2013 Annual Report

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CAN leaders work together to address equity and opportunity


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Vanessa Sarria, CAN Executive Director

2013 was an important year in the life of CAN. The organization changed its name from "Community Action Network" to "Community Advancement Network," but you can still call us "CAN."  


With the addition of three Chambers of Commerce, the Del Valle and Manor Independent School Districts, Huston -Tillotson University, Goodwill Industries of Central Texas and the City of Pflugerville, we now have 25 CAN partner organizations. Through meetings of the CAN Board of Directors, CAN partners shared efforts on progress being made to implement Imagine Austin, support neighborhood planning efforts, develop innovative community engagement programs, provide Affordable Care Act navigation support, expand behavioral health services, enhance cultural competency, and coordinate workforce development services.


In looking back over our work and accomplishments of the past year, what comes to the forefront in my mind is the extent to which CAN partners are committed to addressing the issues of equity and opportunity, both in their organizations and through CAN.


CAN Dashboard: Setting a Common Agenda

CAN published the fourth annual CAN Community Dashboard Report. This report and the accompanying website, www.cancommunitydashboard.org, serve as tools  for developing a common understanding of community issues and dialogue across organizations, jurisdictions, and disciplines throughout the year. At the close of each year, our Board of Directors takes what it has learned through these conversations to develop a Work Plan for the coming year. Following is a summary of key initiatives that were part of the 2013 CAN Work Plan.


2013 CAN Work Plan Highlights


Cultural Competency, Diversity and Inclusion

We live in a "no majority" community where no one racial or ethnic group comprises more than half of the total population.  In this rapidly diversifying community, it is more important than ever to ensure that our staff and leadership are inclusive and diverse and that our services are provided in a culturally appropriate manner. A CAN work group comprised of board members and others worked to develop a new Toolkit to help organizations understand how they can evolve to become more culturally competent, diverse and inclusive. The work group also coordinated an executive-level conversation at the September CAN Board of Directors meeting. Leaders with Seton Healthcare Family, the UT Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Austin Police Department, and Austin ISD joined CAN Board members for a frank conversation about what it takes to ensure their organizations are culturally competent, diverse and inclusive.  Watch a video of the meeting


Policy Forum: Today's Choices, Tomorrow's Future  

CAN's 2013 Policy Forum helped us consider the most important strategies and policies that can help balance growth and affordability and develop human capital and job opportunities to build a sustainable future. Keynote speaker Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution presented on Confronting Suburban Poverty: Challenges and Directions for the Austin Region. Jon Hockenyos presented on "The Income Divide and Its Impact on Our Economic Future".  Moderated panels of local experts followed presentations and discussed key considerations for the region's future. Click here for a summary of the event and key strategies. 


The State of the Safety Net

CAN assessed the "State of the Safety Net in the Austin Metro Area" to better understand the impact of, and community response to, demographic changes.  CAN staff analyzed Census and 2-1-1 data and conducted interviews with more than 30 service providers and community leaders in the fall of 2013.  This report summarizes some of the key gaps and challenges that were noted in these interviews as well as recommendations for ways to meet the safety net needs of our changing community.  


Place-Based Planning 

CAN convened a Placed-based Planning Work Group to enhance information sharing among planning and community engagement efforts in high-poverty neighborhoods including Rundberg, Rosewood, Colony Park, St. John's, Dove Springs, and others. The work group shared successes and challenges, identified promising practices to promote meaningful community engagement, heard updates from Imagine Austin, and shared neighborhood-level demographic analysis


Behavioral Health Continuum of Care

CAN worked with behavioral health collaborations focused on mental health and substance abuse to identify existing planning efforts, needs, barriers and guiding principles for an optimal system of care. Findings were shared with the Board of Directors and Community Council. As a result of these conversations, several CAN partners have stepped up to take a leadership role to address substance abuse service gaps.  Conversations also resulted in the creation of a Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.


Together We CAN!

Through a collaboration with Leadership Austin, CAN developed an on-line civic action tool that offers practical suggestions of action people can take where they live, learn, work and serve to make our community better.  Visit www.weCANatx.org to see how people are making a difference and to share how you can take action.


Continuing to set the table for dialogue

Many of the conversations of last year will continue into this year. The CAN Board of Directors approved this 2014 CAN Work Plan.  


Very sincerely,

Vanessa Sarria,

CAN Executive Director  


 CAN Partners


Austin Chamber of Commerce

Austin Community College

Austin ISD


Austin Travis County Integral Care
Capital Area Black
Chamber of Commerce
Capital Metro

Central Health

City of Austin
City of Pflugerville

Community Justice Council
Del Valle ISD
Goodwill Industries
of Central Texas
Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce
Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Huston-Tillotson University
interfaith Action of    Central Texas
Manor ISD

One Voice Central Texas

Seton Healthcare Family


St. David's Foundation


St. Edward's University


Travis County


United Way for Greater Austin


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
CAN is a partnership of governmental, non-profit, private and faith-based organizations which leverage mutual resources to collectively improve social, health, educational and economic opportunities in our community. 
   Connecting and Informing


Stay connected with and informed about community issues and planning efforts...






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CAN Welcomes New Leaders for 2014   

John-Michael Cortez, 2014 CAN Board Chair
CAN Board of Directors
John-Michael Cortez is the incoming Chair of the CAN Board of Directors. Cortez is Community Involvement Manager for Capital Metro and also serves on the Board of Trustees for Austin Community College.  Erica Saenz, Assistant Vice President for Community and External Relations, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, University of Texas at Austin, will serve as Vice Chair of the CAN Board in 2014. 


The CAN Board of Directors is made up of elected officials and executive leaders of the 25 CAN partner organizations. 

CAN Community Council
Kirsha Haverlah, Director of Government Relations for Travis County Constable Precinct 5, will serve as Chair of the CAN Community Council in 2014.  Vice Chair for 2014 is Anne H. Harutunian, principal of Harutunian Engineering, Inc.


The CAN Community Council is a self-appointed board of individuals who reflect the diversity of interests, concerns, organizations, issues and populations of the Central Texas community. The role of the Community Council is to provide a link between the community at large and the policy makers and elected officials who serve on the CAN Board of Directors.  Click here to learn about applying to serve on the CAN Community Council.
Overview of 2013 Accomplishments