Strategic Plan 2020-2024

Community Needs Assessments

October 2020 Update for Board of Directors

Goal #1: Individuals and families in Northwest Indiana are stable and achieve economic security.

Strategy #1.1: Improve the economic stability of individuals and families.

  • Objective #1.1.1: Assist individuals and families with employment related services.
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

In 2020, NWICA was invited to partner with Lake Area United Way in their Level Up program.  The “Level Up” Program: Creating Pathways to Better-Paying Jobs started in fall 2019. In this program, Family Career Navigators meet struggling workers where they are, help them set educational and career goals, connect their families to available basic supports, including financial skills like budgeting, debt reduction and  home ownership. With United Way’s support, NWICA employs a Family Career Navigator and our Family Development Program meets regularly with the Level Up program to share knowledge and expertise with the goal of helping families find and maintain employment that pays a sustaining wage. Additionally, the Level Up program is currently piloting several job training/skill training pilots that are available to Level Up participants.

  • Objective #1.1.2: Assist individuals and families with skill development and asset development.
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

At the beginning of the year, our Individual Development Accounts (IDA) program had openings for clients in three grant years – 2018, 2019, and 2020.  The team has been working hard to conduct outreach and find participants who can benefit from this opportunity to build assets.  This program helps employed individuals build savings by matching their savings 3 to 1 up to a certain amount.  Savings can then be used to purchase a home, finance a small business, pay for education, or purchase a vehicle.  So far in 2020, 20 new participants have been enrolled in the program, meaning that the 2018 grant is filled and there is 1 slot left in the 2019 grant.  The 2020 grant has 14 slots and needs to be 75% filled by April 30, 2022.  At the current enrollment rate, the team should far exceed that benchmark.

The Financial Services department recently began providing financial literacy education online via Facebook Live.  Teaching financial skills online allows the department to continue to provide the service during the pandemic.  It has also helped us reach new people who could watch and learn from the comfort of their own homes and on their own schedules. The videos reached over 400 people and were shared several times which helps us build recognition and trust in the community.

  • Objective #1.1.3: Develop housing to address specific needs.
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

On October 2, 2020, we closed on the Broadway Lofts project, a 32 unit mixed use, mixed income development at 7th and Broadway in Gary.  We expect to hear something soon about a groundbreaking ceremony and a construction timeline.

  • Objective #1.1.4: Facilitate access to needed services and resources.
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

One of the AmeriCorps Senior programs that we are starting is the Senior Companion program.  When we wrote the grant for this program, we included transportation as a service that companions could provide.  This project was approved and program planning has begun. So one alternative transportation solution has been created.

As part of our CSBG Cares Act planning, we included two additional alternative transportation options.  The first is a voucher program that allows eligible households impacted by COVID to receive a voucher for services such as Uber or Lyft.  The second is a program that we are currently referring to as Mobility Management.

The Mobility Management program is an allowable program under federal transportation funding that works to organize existing transportation services and to fill any gaps in local transportation infrastructure.  While we are not sure we will pursue this exact solution, we have started a conversation with Lake Area United Way about transportation solutions.  One option we are considering is piloting a Transportation Navigator position that would assist people in putting together a round trip using available resources that would allow them to get to and from their destination.  The first step in the project is a survey of low- to moderate-income households to learn what specific transportation barriers they are experiencing.  Our graduate intern has developed those surveys which we expect to be distributed before the end of the year.

Goal #2: Communities in Northwest Indiana are healthy and offer economic opportunity.

Strategy #2.1 Improve the economic stability of individuals and families.

  • Objective #2.1.1: Facilitate the development of economic opportunities.

Strategy #2.2 Improve the health of communities.

  • Objective #2.2.1: Focus on neighborhood level work to improve opportunities for health.
  • Objective #2.2.2 Improve community opportunities for health, social, and cognitive development.
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

The OB Navigator program started in Lake and LaPorte counties in 2020. The goal of this program is to identify women early in their pregnancies and connect them with an OB navigator – a home visitor who provides personalized guidance and support to a woman during her pregnancy and at least the first six to 12 months after her baby’s birth.

Our WIC clinic staff are teaching parents about safe sleep which is an evidence based intervention for reducing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Goal #3: People in Northwest Indiana are engaged and active in building opportunities in communities.

Strategy #3.1: Increase civic engagement and community involvement among marginalized and vulnerable populations.

  • Objective #3.1.1 Facilitate opportunities for community involvement.
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

In May of 2020, our Preventative Health team began providing an online version of their evidence-based Enhance Fitness program through Facebook Live.  Ordinarily, this in person class draws groups of older adults together for some exercise and community-building.  During COVID, our regular participants were missing their gatherings.  The online version gave them the opportunity to continue their exercise routines and to interact with the instructor and with each other.

The Preventative Health team also piloted a teleconference version of their Chronic Disease Self-Management Program beginning in August.

NWICA was awarded grants to operate the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs effective April 1, 2020.  Under the leadership of Jennifer Malone, Dominique Hopson has been hired to manage both programs.  They are currently in the process of finalizing volunteer policies, program processes, and software contracts.  Volunteer applications are beginning to come in, so these programs will be up and running soon!

  • Objective #3.1.2 Involve marginalized and vulnerable populations in civic activities
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

Our Outreach Team, under Melissa Bohacek’s leadership, has actively promoted voter education throughout this election season, providing accurate up-to-date information about how and when to register and to vote.

Goal #4: Northwest Indiana Community Action actively builds the capacity of the organization and its staff to accomplish strategic objectives.

Strategy #4.1: The organization and its staff are economically stable.

  • Objective #4.1.1: Diversify revenue sources
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

In 2020, NWICA purchased it’s first constituent relationship management software, called Salsa.  This software helps us develop and segment a list of stakeholders and to communicate with them efficiently and effectively.  It will be the vehicle for communicating agency news, providing community education, and for issuing advocacy alerts.  It is one step toward building community around the organization.  To date we have been growing our contact list and we have used the Salsa system to communicate about and promote our recent reimagine conference.

  • Objective #4.1.2: Communicate and involve staff in economic stability activities
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

Our plans for conducting our community needs assessment have been altered by the pandemic.  Originally, we hoped to conduct listening sessions throughout our service area to hear what communities are facing.  Obviously we are not able to do that.  The Indiana Association of Community Action Agencies has engaged the Indiana Institute for Working Families to help with needs assessments in 2020.  They issued surveys to low-income community members.  We are proud to have had over 2000 surveys returned.  We expect to receive the survey results by the end of the year.

Strategy #4.2: The organization, through its culture, environment, and initiatives, provides a healthy environment for staff.

  • Objective #4.2.1: The physical environment supports employee well-being
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

In December 2019, Tracey Dibble worked with a Risk Management Consultant from our Worker’s Compensation insurance company to make recommendations and provide educational information for staff regarding work station ergonomics.

Additionally, although not what we originally intended, under the leadership of Eric Shelton, all office workspaces have been reviewed and redesigned as necessary to provide appropriate social distancing, thereby supporting employee well-being.

  • Objective #4.2.2: The organization’s culture communicates respect and care for employee well-being

Strategy #4.3: The organization provides opportunities for health, social, and cognitive development for employees.

  • Objective #4.3.1: Employee benefits support health, social, and cognitive development
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

Jennifer Malone and Tracey Dibble have been working to develop an annual training plan that will include topics such as: antidiscrimination, implicit bias, workplace violence and safety, and de-escalation training.  They have also developed a New Supervisor Orientation.  Training topics range from applying leadership basics to managing a virtual office to valuing Diversity. The modules are available through our employee assistance provider. Supervisors will conduct 2 – 3 training modules each week and Jennifer and Tracey will facilitate weekly discussions regarding the trainng modules. Currently Jennifer and Tracey are completing each trainnig module and developing weekly discussion points to facilitate productive conversation about the training and how it is applicable to NWICA leadership.

  • Objective #4.3.2: Rewards and recognition support employee health and engagement
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

At the end of March 2020, NWICA made a rapid pivot from working at the office to keeping every employee productive while working from home.  During this transition, Tracey Dibble and NWICA’s Wellness Committee worked hard to support the staff.  They created a weekly “bingo” game that included great self-care and healthy behaviors.  Each staff who completed a bingo during the week was entered into a drawing to win a prize such as a fitbit or a gift card.

In October, Tracey and the Wellness Committee announce a flu shot promotion, where each staff who submits documentation of their flu shot will be entered into a drawing to win a gift card.

Strategy #4.4: The organization provides opportunities for civic engagement and community.

  • Objective #4.4.1: Employees have opportunities for civic engagement and community involvement.
Accomplishments as of 10/20/2020:

NWICA has initiated an internal employee newsletter as one means of improving staff communications.  The newsletter will be published quarterly and opportunities to engage around newsletter content will be offered in between each issue.

  • Objective #4.4.2: The community has opportunities for engagement with the organization.