Community Action and SNAP E&T:
A Flexible Approach to CAA Involvement
Build SNAP E&T partnerships
Most CAAs have deep ties to their communities and are well-positioned to build upon existing relationships as part of SNAP E&T to benefit the areas that they serve. This includes relationships with state and local governments, other CBOs, local businesses, and educational institutions.
While perhaps not the first partner a CAA thinks about when pursuing a program like SNAP E&T, consider the state CSBG office. Regular, ongoing communication over CSBG programs provides ample opportunity for discussions between a CAA and the state CSBG office about enhancing organizational effectiveness and impact in the community. State officials working on CSBG-related programs know others in state government who work on similar issues, including SNAP E&T. These contacts can help position a CAA for more successful collaboration in the SNAP E&T program. For example, a CAA could contact its state CSBG office prior to applying as a SNAP E&T partner to see if the state office has contacts with the agency that administers the program. If so, it could reach out and learn more about participation as a third-party partner. Through these connections a CAA may also get involved in the planning and development of state SNAP E&T plans, perhaps lending its expertise running similar jobs training programs or interacting with SNAP-eligible clients in its community to the state plan.
Many CAAs collaborate or form partnerships with other CBOs to provide services, operate more efficiently, conserve resources, and reach greater numbers of individuals. This type of collaboration falls within the scope of the federal CSBG Act, which requires that each state include in its CSBG plan an assurance that the state and CAAs will “coordinate programs with and form partnerships with other organizations serving low-income residents of the communities and members of the groups served by the State” (42 U.S.C. § 9908(b)(9)). Existing partnerships can serve as a springboard to propel SNAP E&T efforts across communities. Familiarity and trust often make collaboration easier to develop and manage, not to mention more effective. A CAA that successfully shares administrative functions with another CBO may have greater capacity to take on SNAP E&T programs. Natural alignment could already exist between a CAA that operates a program jointly with several other CBOs to work on SNAP E&T together. Even if a CAA has not worked with a particular organization, perhaps SNAP E&T offers the opportunity to start developing that relationship. In those states where SNAP E&T is included in the state’s WIOA state plan, further opportunity to build partnerships or team with other collaborators at an American Jobs Center may exist (see X-factors: CAA considerations).
Given its position in the community, a CAA likely has connections to, or awareness of, educational institutions within its areas of service, including community colleges. It may even already coordinate and collaborate with them in any jobs or educational programs it may offer. These institutions are integral to SNAP E&T and offer further opportunities for partnership development around allowable educational activities.
So too do businesses within the community. Explore how existing engagement with local businesses could benefit SNAP E&T efforts. A CAA that runs jobs training programs may already team up with businesses to provide participants with on-the-job training. The CAA board’s private sector might include business owners or executives from the community who have networks and connections with potential SNAP E&T business partners.
These types of relationships may serve as the foundation for any future SNAP E&T collaboration between the CAA and partners to ultimately improve efficiency, effectiveness, and reach greater numbers of SNAP E&T participants. CAAs should analyze the relationships that exist at their agencies at administrative, operational, and programmatic levels, and consider what potential could be there for a SNAP E&T partnership. (See American Public Human Services Association and SJI, SNAP E&T Provider Readiness Roadmap Part 1 (2022))
Once it identifies a potential partnership, a CAA should reach out and explore the collaboration. This may be done in a number of ways. Tap into existing connections with that potential partner. Does a staff person’s or board member’s network extend to that potential partner, and can they make contact or connect with others about SNAP E&T? Similarly, does the CAA work in some other capacity with the potential partner, and can SNAP E&T be raised through those channels? Perhaps the CAA knows another CBO that works with a potential SNAP E&T partner of interest, and that CBO can serve as intermediary or provide an introduction. CAAs should think creatively when exploring potential partnerships with an understanding of its network and the networks of its stakeholders. The successes and goodwill built up over years of community involvement can serve a CAA well in these efforts.
- USDA FNS, SNAP E&T Operations Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Developing, Implementing, and Growing a SNAP E&T Program (2018)
- American Public Human Services Association and SJI, SNAP E&T Provider Readiness Roadmap Part 1 (2022)
This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.