BINGEN — In a unique turn of events, the Washington State Community Action Partnership secured $7.3 million of state funding in 2022 as a match to federal Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) funding.
This funding helps Washington State’s 30 Community Action Agencies to stabilize and equip families and individuals to exit poverty for good through a network of local organizations.
Only 23 states have state and federal CSBG programs. Washington is the only state to achieve fund matching, a significant distinction according to Jeff DeLuca, the partnership’s executive director.
“This is a historic vote of confidence in our network from the legislature,” DeLuca said. “Community Action Agencies will be able to use this funding to meet local needs with the active participation of people living in poverty in setting priorities for the funding.”
DeLuca noted that’s what sets Community Action and CSBG apart: Participation, local control, and flexibility.
“We are particularly proud that we came together as a network to direct the vast majority of this funding to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and rural Washingtonians disproportionately impacted by poverty.”
Local Community Action Agencies (CAA) are part of these greater State and National CAA Partnerships. These associations provide greater power to support organizations like Washington Gorge Action Programs (WAGAP), which are the boots on the ground helping people to live better lives.
WAGAP has been serving rural Skamania and Klickitat counties since 1966. In recent years the agency has become a significant employer in the area. Many employees were once served by programs like the Food Bank Network, Housing Program, or Energy Assistance. They use their lived experience to improve programs and provide compassionate service.
The new $108,032 of funding will help support the new associate director to provide outreach and the new Mobile Food Bank, which reaches deeper into rural areas to ensure families have food security. It will also help WAGAP offer stipends for bilingual staff fluent in Spanish and English.
“We are proud of the work we do at WAGAP, especially work that helps to end racial disparities in underserved and rural communities,” said Leslie Naramore, WAGAP’s executive director. She added that grant programs like CSBG make it possible for small agencies to bridge gaps in services and be more responsive to community needs.
To learn more about all of WAGAP’s programs or volunteer opportunities, go to wagap.org, call 509-493-2662, or stop by a local office in Stevenson, Bingen, or Goldendale.