The Road to Self Sufficiency

Why would a non-profit like Jefferson Franklin Community Action want to open a C-Corporation with various for-profit social enterprises? 

The majority of JFCAC’s revenue is from State and Federal grants. The agency’s Leadership Staff is constantly exploring how best to ensure the agency’s existence in light of continual funding cuts.  In other words, JFCAC is charged with the ongoing challenge of how to increase its ability to be less dependent on Federal and State funding. 

 

In 2015 The Executive Team, Leadership Team, and Board at JFCAC established a desire to focus on new programs that were not what had commonly been referred to as “Band-Aid Approaches.”  The definition of a Band-Aid Approach is “a hasty solution that covers up the symptoms, but does little or nothing to mitigate the underlying problem.”  Many of the existing anti-poverty programs are based on “Band-Aide Approaches.  While they have been successful in helping people, they have not always been successful in building self-sufficiency.  Since the goal of Community Action is to mitigate poverty, JFCAC decided to strengthen its existing amazing core programs that are so vital, while also building new approaches that would work to cure the root of the problems, not just eliminate the symptoms.  With that in mind, a core principle emerged for the agency.  This principle was to base all new programs and revitalize existing programs on self-sufficiency principles.  In other words, create programs that assist those served in becoming more self-sufficient and less reliant on the programs that JFCAC offers.  While the agency loves those that are served by its programs, a true success would be a customer base that no longer needed services from JFCAC or any other organization like JFCAC. Hence, the new backbone of JFCAC’s Programming was created: Self - Sufficiency.     

 

However, after great thought it became apparent that JFCAC was expecting more of its Programs and Clients than of itself.  Self Sufficiency …what a great thought? Discussion began around the question, “is self-sufficiency where the agency needs to go?”   As mentioned above, with the continued threats of funding cuts the answer was easy and clear – YES!  Not only should we create programs that are based on the expectation of self-sufficiency for those that JFCAC serves, but JFCAC should itself begin the quest to become self-sufficient as a corporation.  

 

Sometimes deciding in life to move in a direction is the easiest part – paving the way to get there can present the challenges.  So, for JFCAC after the above decision was made, the remaining question was, “How does the agency get there?”  How could JFCAC reach a point of being less reliant on Federal and State dollars and more reliant on itself? Lengthy discussion began with the Board, Executive Team, Leadership Team, and employees at JFCAC regarding the ways in which the agency could increase dollars not provided by the State or Federal Government.  In other words, simply put, how would the agency achieve increasing dollars that were not restricted or dependent on others to provide to the agency?   

 

Collectively, a decision was made to increase these unrestricted dollars in three ways:  Fundraising, Medicaid Fee-for-Service Opportunities and the creation of Social Enterprises. Over the past three years JFCAC has placed great emphasis on all three of these areas, including but not limited to the establishment of Partner’s Realizing Opportunity (PRO) JFCAC’s for profit arm.    

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