Community Action Network 2008 Year End Report

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Dear CAN friends,
Community Action Network had a very productive year in 2008.  CAN reaffirmed its roots by further clarifying desired outcomes related to the CAN vision. Based on this foundational work, the CAN community will embark on a process in 2009 to create a community-wide dashboard to gauge whether our community is making progress toward that vision.

Other key accomplishments included obtaining consensus among CAN partner organizations to collaborate on maximizing enrollment in federally subsidized public assistance programs and developing a compact for children and youth.

Essential to its future success and effectiveness, CAN also clarified its role and governance structure, revitalized its Councils and committees with new recruits, strengthened the CAN team and its productivity with new talent, and enhanced its communication strategy to more effectively fulfill the CAN's mission and role in the community. 
Much thanks goes to the 2008 leadership of CAN Councils:  
  • Resource Council Chair, Travis County Attorney David Escamilla;
  • Community Council Chair, Terry Cowan, CEO of Workers Assistance Program; and
  • Administrative Team Chair, Sherri Fleming, Executive Manager of Travis County Health and Human Services and Veterans Services.
Thank you for your commitment and investment of time, energy and resources with CAN.  With your help and partnership we look forward to a very productive 2009.
Vanessa Sarria, Executive Director
 CAN Partners
Austin Area Human Services Association
Austin Area Interreligious Ministries
Austin Chamber of Commerce
Austin Community College
Austin Independent School District
Austin Travis County MHMR Center
Capital Metro
City of Austin
Community Justice Council
Integrated Care Collaboration
Seton Family of Hospitals
St. David's Community Health Foundation
St. Edward's University
Travis County
Travis County Healthcare District
United Way Capital Area
University of Texas at Austin
Workforce Solutions - Capital Area
CAN Vision
   Our richly diverse community will be healthy, safe, educated, just and compassionate where all people work together to achieve their full potential and celebrate their lives.
CAN Mission
   To achieve sustainable social, health, educational and economic outcomes through engaging the community in a planning and implementation process that coordinates and optimizes public, private, individual actions and resources.
Reaffirming CAN's Role
The CAN Vision and Mission were approved over a decade ago and continue to guide the purpose and goals of the organization.  The Community Action Network brings together key organizations that support and fund health and human services in Austin and Travis County and helps them work together to identify our community's needs and to collaborate to meet those needs.
CAN's key roles in the community are to:
  • enhance awareness of issues;
  • strengthen partnerships and connect efforts;
  • facilitate development of collaborative strategies; and
  • mobilize action to improve the community's well-being.
A Common Community Vision    
Action is our middle name at Community Action Network, but "action" to what end?  In 2008 the CAN community worked together to answer this question - at the CAN retreat, in Issue Area Groups, and at the various CAN councils and committees.  This past December, the CAN Resource Council approved Ideal Statements - common goals that CAN participants share for all people in our community. 
The CAN Resource Council also voted in 2008 to work together to create a Community-Wide Dashboard of high-level indicators to provide a common framework for taking action together and to measure our progress in achieving our common goals.
2008 Accomplishments

1.  CAN community adopted "Ideal Statements - a Common Vision for Our Community

2.  CAN community agreed to work together to develop a Community-Wide Dashboard that provides a common framework for taking action together and for measuring our progress towards achieving a common vision.
Overview with more details.

3.  CAN partners agreed to identify how their individual organizations can support the work of  Ready By 21 to obtain broad consensus on outcomes and indicators for children and youth and identify how partners could work together in jointly developing a "Compact for Youth" that will provide a common framework for collectively improving outcomes.

4.  Based on a recommendation by the CAN Community Council for CAN partners to work together to enroll more people in Travis County in federally subsidized programs such as TANF, Food Stamps, Medicaid and Chip, the CAN Resource Council agreed to further review the issue and consider strategic options to maximize enrollment in public assistance programs and federal dollars.
5.  The CAN Community Council held monthly televised forums on many important issues facing the community, including basic needs, housing, education, teen pregnancy, the region's economic well-being, employment assistance, and the state budget. 
View the presentations

6.  CAN Community Council forums resulted in key recommendations to the CAN Resource Council including requests for CAN partners to:
  • advocate for sustaining Community Development Block Grant programs dollars to fund key housing and other social services,
  • work together to maximize enrollment in public assistance programs,
  • address educational gaps by working together to improve the well-being of children and youth, and
  • further examine best practices for addressing the disproportionate Hispanic teen pregnancy rate and growing prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents.
7.  The CAN Administrative Team began to assess how CAN partner organizations could build on current work and service delivery systems to collaborate on maximizing enrollment in public assistance programs.

8.  Enhanced links to research and reports on to provide community organizations with better information to improve research, planning, advocacy, and grant writing efforts.

9.  Broadened the reach and timeliness of information disseminated on community research, planning and advocacy initiatives by introducing CANews, an email news update that is sent to over 2,200 each week.  (

10.  Re-introduced "Community Conditions Overview" and began working through the CAN Administrative Team to ensure that data reported was solid and relevant to partner and community planning efforts.

11.  Updated the
Developmental Disabilities FAQ and began work with other Issue Area Groups to update their FAQ issue briefs.  Also, began partnering with the "I Live Here, I Give Here" campaign by assisting them to get the word out on opportunities for community stakeholders to contribute to the development of community issue briefs published by the Austin American Statesman for broad dissemination.

12.  Developed
CAN brochure to clarify CAN's vision, mission, role and organizational structure.

13.  Regularly convened Issue Area Group leaders to identify opportunities for collaboration across issue area groups and CAN partners.

2008 Issue Area Group Highlights
Community Action Network is affiliated with 14 Issue Area Groups in the community that serve as the "go to" groups for information about an issue.  Issue Area Groups operate independently from CAN and provide expertise and information to help CAN Partners address issues.  CAN staff are assigned to work with each of the Issue Area Groups to identify collaborative opportunities, link and leverage information and resources across the spectrum of issues, and provide support as needed to advance community planning efforts.  CAN also helps connect Issue Area Groups to CAN partner organizations to develop our community's response to issues. 

Following are just a few highlights of Issue Area Group accomplishments in 2008:
  • Aging Services Council:  Ran public service announcements on English and Spanish television about transportation alternatives for the elderly, and worked with the St. David's Community Health Foundation to conduct a three-county survey of people who are elderly.
  • Basic Needs Coalition:  Poverty Roundtable event focused on food stability.  BNC conducted a survey of existing food banks, noting gaps, and surveyed food bank clients.
  • Central Texas Afterschool Network:  Provided high quality professional development for afterschool professionals and recognized community leaders and advocates at the annual "Breakfast of Champions."
  • Child & Youth Mental Health Planning Partnership held a Child and Youth Mental Health Summit to set priorities and goals for the community.
  • Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) held the Stand Down Resource Fair for the homeless, and raised community awareness through multiple activities during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. 
  • Early Education and Care (Success By 6): Collaborative efforts increased the number of child development centers certified under the Texas "Rising Star" program from 14% to 30%; Staff from six agencies participated in nationally-accredited Incredible Years curriculum; also partnered with E3 Alliance to identify indicators for "school readiness."
  • Literacy Coalition of Central Texas:  Literacy Advancement Initiative provided ESL instruction for trainers; Central Texas Workforce Education Summit connected employers and literacy providers; and the Health Literacy Initiative provided health provider training and resource referral in English and Spanish.
  • Ready By 21:  Compiled a dashboard of outcomes and indicators for youth; embarked on a Youth Services Mapping project in conjunction with AISD; and provided Quality Counts training for youth service providers.
  • Re-entry Roundtable:  Encouraged City and County to change employment application forms so that they do not deter people with criminal backgrounds from applying for jobs; and embarked on a housing inventory with a gap analysis for sub-populations.
  • Regional Transit Coordination Committee:  Managed the process of awarding $1.5 million in JARC and New Freedom grants from the Federal Transportation Authority, and held a regional forum on health and human service transportation needs.
Community Action Network Welcomes New Leaders for 2009 ann_kitchen 
Ann Kitchen, Executive Director of the Integrated Care Collaboration (ICC), will serve as Chair of the CAN Resource Council in 2009 and David Evans, Executive Director of Austin Travis County MHMR, will serve as Vice Chair.
Cynthia Colbert, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Central Texas, will serve as Chair of the CAN Community Council and Marquis Williams, with Austin Community College, will serve as Vice Chair.
Alan Miller, Executive Director of Workforce Solutions - Capital Area, will chair the CAN Administrative Team, and Vince Cobalis, with the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, will serve as Vice Chair.