Community Action Network 2009 Annual Report

year end header

Dear CAN friends,
CAN was originally created in 1995 because community leaders saw value in working across organizational boundaries to address community issues.  CAN's 2009 initiatives reinforce this goal of working across agencies and issues to develop collaborative solutions.  The Community Dashboard highlights 16 social indicators that are all interrelated and interconnected.  This "package" of indicators will help us gauge or community's overall well-being and guide collaborative action.  The Healthy Families, Stable Communities initiative acknowledges that families must be connected to a wide array of services so that they can thrive.  The Compact for Children and Youth initiative resulted in identifying and measuring indicators across the spectrum of children's lives because we know that achieving success relies not just on improving education, but also on improving health, safety, relationships, and community engagement. 

In addition to making progress on three key initiatives, CAN launched a new website and adopted new by-laws for the organization. CAN also worked with partners to collaborate and share information about federal stimulus funding coming to our community. 
Much thanks goes to the 2009 leadership of CAN Councils:
  • Resource Council Chair, Ann Kitchen, former Executive Director of Integrated Care Collaboration;
  • Community Council Chair, Cynthia Colbert, Executive Director of Catholic Charities; and
  • Administrative Team Chair, Alan Miller, Executive Director of Workforce Solutions - Capital Area.
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 2010.
Vanessa Sarria, Executive Director


 CAN Partners
Austin Area Interreligious Ministries
Austin Chamber of Commerce
Austin Community College
Austin Independent School District
Austin Travis County Integral Care
Capital Metro
Central Health
City of Austin
Community Justice Council
One Voice Central Texas
Seton Family of Hospitals
St. David's Foundation
St. Edward's University
Travis County
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.
Key Initiatives in 2009
Community Dashboard CAN appointed a Dashboard Steering Committee made up of people who represent a broad array of issues to develop a short-list of indicators that measure the social health and well-being of Austin and Travis County.  The Committee used as its starting point the work of many collaborations in Austin and Travis County and around the nation that have developed outcomes and indicators to measure community progress. The 16 Community Dashboard indicators will help guide our community discussion and work together in 2010
Compact for Children and Youth:  The CAN partners worked with Ready By 21 to assess the well-being of children and youth in our community.  With the help of consultants from the Forum for Youth Investment, our community developed consensus on 17 outcomes and 48 indicators for children and youth.  The results of this work were: a report that summarizes where we stand on these 48 indicators produced in partnership with United Way Capital Area and Ready by 21, and a commitment on the part of CAN Partners to continue, under the leadership of Ready By 21 and the United Way, to consider how we can work together to move these indicators in the right direction.

Stable Families, Healthy Community:  The CAN Board of Directors adopted a Five Year Plan to promote "Stable Families and a Healthy Community" by more effectively connecting families to all the community resources they are qualified to receive.  The Plan has three components:
  1. Advocacy & Policy: Connect and leverage CAN Partner and Issue Area Group advocacy and stimulus efforts to promote public policies and funding that will improve and/or streamline access to and availability of services.
  2. Community Resources 101:  Develop a plan to provide ongoing orientations on available community resources to volunteers and front-line workers in our churches and social service organizations so they can direct families to resources.
  3. Common Eligibility:  Conduct an inventory of eligibility criteria and customer information used by organizations serving the safety net population with an analysis of commonalities, and, building on the work of Central Health, develop a plan for providing virtual access to information for eligibility determination. 
2009 Accomplishments

In addition to progress on the three key initiatives, the CAN partners and staff also worked together to accomplish the following...

recovery_logoFederal Stimulus Coordination:  Congressman Lloyd Doggett shared information on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at a CAN Board meeting shortly after the federal bill was passed.  The CAN Partners devoted several of their televised meetings to share information on stimulus-funded projects and collaborative initiatives.  CAN also worked with governmental agencies and non-profits receiving federal dollars to develop a concise summary of stimulus funding received by agencies in Austin/Travis County.  CAN continues to assist with the coordination of the Intergovernmental Stimulus Coordination Committee that is working to maximize use and regional impact of stimulus dollars to address short-term economic hardship and make transformational investments in infrastructure, technology and human capital. Visit the CAN Federal Stimulus - Local Impact webpage.

U.S. Census:  CAN brought representatives of the U.S. Census Bureau to Austin to meet with elected officials and other community members in March of 2009 to discuss pending changes to the annual American Community Survey and the impact this will have on communities. CAN signed on as a partner with the U.S. Census in its efforts to promote the 2010 Census.
Televised Community Council Forums: Topics covered in the monthly CAN Community Council included depression among older adults, behavioral health, poverty, reentry from incarceration, and how to access community resources to search for a job. Click here to see the presentations shared with the Community Council.
Promoting Community Awareness: A major overhaul of the CAN website features information on CAN's key initiatives, links to CAN Partners' planning efforts, links to Issue Area Group websites, easy access to critical research and information, and a new Community Events Calendar.  CANews, an email update of news, events, research and reports, expanded its contact list from 2,200 by the end of 2008 to over 3,800 by the end of 2009. In the two years since it was established, CANews has become an important resource for sharing information and raising awareness about community issues. 
Supporting Issue Area Groups: CAN brings the leaders of Issue Area Groups together every other month so they can network, share information and find ways to work together.  CAN staff facilitated several Issue Area Group's Strategic Planning sessions and provided  research and writing support for five Issue Area Groups in 2009 to develop FAQ's.  These "Frequently Asked Questions" reports help Issue Area Groups develop consensus around the priority issues facing the populations they serve and the key data points to be shared with the community at large. The FAQs were also presented to the CAN Community Council at their monthly televised meetings. Special thanks to the CAN Assessment Review Committee for providing editorial review and comment to improve the quality of these documents.

Butler Awards 2009End of Year Event and Butler Awards:   Over 100 people attended the CAN End of Year Event on November 20th.  Richard Troxell, Founder and Executive Director of House the Homeless; Carol Wright, Director of Education Programs for Skillpoint Alliance; and the Passages Collaboration were announced as winners of the 2009 Butler Awards. Learn more. 

New Bylaws
The Community Action Network adopted new bylaws in 2009 that reaffirm the organization's key roles in the community 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.
The bylaws changed the name of the CAN Resource Council to the CAN Board of Directors and gave this board, comprised of elected officials and leaders of the 17 CAN Partner agencies, clear authority over the governance and work of CAN.

The new bylaws made the CAN Community Council a self-appointed body of community members representing the diversity of interests and perspectives in our community.  CAN Community Council members will serve three year terms and leaders of the Council will also serve on the CAN Executive Committee and Board, which oversee the development of the CAN work plan and agenda. The Community Council hosts monthly, televised forums on key issues facing our community.
The new bylaws replaced the CAN Administrative Team with CAN Implementation Teams, which are appointed by the Chair of the Board of Directors, to work specifically on the key initiatives of CAN. 

Issue Area Group Highlights for 2009

Community Action Network is affiliated with 14 Issue Area Groups that serve as the "go to" groups for information on various issues and special populations.  Issue Area Groups operate independently from CAN and provide expertise and information to help CAN Partners address issues.  The accomplishments of Issue Area Groups are credited to the many professionals and volunteers who donate their time, energy and effort to these groups.  They understand that while collaboration takes extra time and effort, the benefits to the community are great.


Following are just a few highlights of Issue Area Group accomplishments in 2009:

Aging Services CouncilA Strategic Planning session early in 2009 focused the Council's efforts on two key initiatives:  an Ambassador Program that will create a cadre of community volunteers who will share information about services and resources for seniors, and a Caregiver University to bring important information to family members and other caregivers about how to care for aging adults.

Austin/Travis County Victim Services Task Force: This group worked together to develop a new Frequently Asked Questions About Victims of Violent Crime. 

Basic Needs CoalitionThe Coalition's novel Best Single Source and Rapid Re-housing initiatives provided an important framework for collaboration as the community geared up to apply for federal stimulus funding grants. The BNC worked with Catholic Charities of Central Texas and the Capital Area Food Bank to hold trainings for case managers on how to enroll clients in Medicaid, SNAP and other federal subsidy programs. The BNC also updated its Poverty Fact Sheet and developed a new Frequently Asked Questions About Basic Needs:  A Focus on Childhood Poverty as part of its many efforts to publicize the issue of poverty during Poverty Awareness Month in January.

Behavioral Health Planning Partnership: completed a new FAQ on behavioral health and promoted expanded professional development in cultural competency for mental health professionals.

Central Texas Afterschool Network:  Provided high quality professional development for afterschool professionals through the annual CTAN University Conference and recognized community leaders and advocates at the annual "Breakfast of Champions."

Child & Youth Mental Health Planning Partnership: The Partnership updated and revised its Frequently Asked Questions About Child and Youth Mental Health. The Partnership created a parent's guide to recognizing mental and behavioral health issues in their children in both English and Spanish.  The group worked with Austin ISD to include the guide in the AISD student handbook and to print 20,000 copies of the guide for distribution at Back to School nights across the district.  The Partnership also hosted a Children's Mental Health Day at City Hall that featured performances and art by students to help break down the stigma of mental illness.  

Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) completed its "Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness," held an annual homeless resource fair and a homeless veterans resource fair, and coordinated the submission of our community's Housing and Urban Development Continuum of Care application, which resulted in $3.4 million in federal funding for housing and homeless services.   

Early Education and Care (Success By 6): Continued its partnership with E3 Alliance to develop a way to quantify and measure "school readiness" of young children who enter kindergarten and to expand the quality of child care and family supports available to children in low income neighborhoods.

HousingWorks: The fourth annual HousingWorks bus tour and reception introduced community leaders and elected officials to options for affordable housing.  The Sixth Annual Fall Summit focused on making certain that Austin's new Comprehensive Plan includes a goal of providing an affordable housing mix in all areas of town. Through efforts of the HousingWorks Repair Coalition, the City of Austin agreed to devote $2 million of its Affordable Housing General Obligation bond money to home repairs for low-income seniors and people who are disabled.

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Coalition:  A Strategic Planning session in early 2009 led to a name change (from Developmental Disabilities Planning Partnership) as well as an updated website.  The IDDC also began planning a symposium, to be held in the spring of 2010, to help parents and caregivers of children with developmental disabilities connect with resources to help their children transition to adult services.

Literacy Coalition of Central Texas:  In 2009, the Literacy Coalition recruited and referred 149 new volunteers to their network of partner literacy providers, and trained 230 instructors of adult English language instruction programs in research-based classroom instruction strategies.  In addition to updating its website,, the Literacy Coalition released three resource guides - the Central Texas Healthcare Resource Directory provides key information about healthcare options and resources, the Literacy Services Directory provides key information on literacy resources, and the Immigrant Services Directory is a guide to help connect immigrant families with needed services.

Ready By 21: Worked with CAN Partners to finalize a dashboard for children and youth and worked with CAN and the United Way to release a report of Travis County data for these 17 outcomes and 48 indicators.  In partnership with the Central Texas Afterschool Network, RB21 expanded the Youth Program Quality Assessments and Trainings.  RB21 also hosted a national consultant with the Forum on Youth Investment to offer free Results Based Accountability training for non-profit organizations and other agencies. The Go to College Team, a RB21 work group, created a Go to College directory for students and parents.   RB21 launched the Youth Services Mapping system that will enable schools to identify available services for students and provided training for service providers on how to enter information into the system.   

Reentry RoundtableThe Austin Travis County Reentry Roundtable facilitated many projects in 2009 that have lead to increased resources in our community to serve the reentry population including :  1) helped to coordinate collaborative responses to federal stimulus grant opportunities for homeless prevention rapid re-housing services and 2) lead a project  funded by the Corporation for Supportive Housing that studied the issue of frequent users of the County jail and other criminal justice settings who have mental illness and who are homeless, and developed specific recommendations on a project proposal for supportive housing for this population. The Reentry Roundtable also completed a new Frequently Asked Questions About Reentry From Incarceration.

Regional Transit Coordination Committee:  RTCC leaders worked together on a workplan for coming years to better connect customers to transportation services throughout the region with the help of national consultants through the 2009 Transportation Institute held in Austin.  Building on this plan, the RTCC is now developing a survey of case managers to determine what transportation issues their clients most need help with.  The results of the survey will be used to develop training on the resources that are most in demand.

CAN Welcomes New Leaders for 2010  
David Evans 
David Evans, Executive Director of Austin Travis County Integral Care, began his duties as the new Chair of the CAN Board of Directors a few months early this year with the resignation of previous chair Ann Kitchen in October.  Joining David Evans in the leadership of CAN is Travis County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt who will serve as Vice Chair in 2010 and Chair of the CAN Board of Directors in 2011.
Marquis Williams, with Austin Community College, will serve as Chair of the CAN Community Council and Jim Reed, with Optimal Designs Inc., will serve as Vice Chair.
Ashton Cumberbatch, Seton Family of Hospitals, will chair the  Dashboard Steering Committee Implementation Team.  Chairs of the Stable Families, Healthy Community Plan implementation teams will be selected in the near future.

Kathy Armenta, University of Texas School of Social Work, and Marietta Noel, Austin Travis County Integral Care will serve as co-chairs of the CAN Assessment & Review Committee.