2021 Not-for-Profit of the Year: CAPLP
2021 Not-for-Profit of the Year: CAPLP
What was your reaction to winning at this year’s ChamberChoice Awards?
Our team was surprised and very honored. CAPLP has been called ‘the best kept secret’ for many years and we are so happy that the secret is out!
"We are truly honored to be recognized by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce and our community! Our CAPLP team has been making our communities a better place to live for all for 55 years, and it feels absolutely amazing to be recognized as the 2021 Not-for-Profit of the Year! Thank you!"
-Lori Schwartz, CAPLP Executive Director
What does the award mean to you and the organization?
This award means our community supports us and believes in our mission. This past year has proven to be exceedingly difficult for our most vulnerable populations; these are the populations that CAPLP primarily serves. CAPLP is so honored to be recognized in this capacity because we know our team is extremely dedicated and passionate about the wellbeing of the individuals who reside in our community as well as the community itself.
In your own words, briefly share your organization’s history, how you’ve grown throughout the years and what you offer the community today.
In 1965 CAPLP was born out of the Economic Opportunity Act as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s unconditional war on poverty. The first program offered was a summer Head Start program offered in local elementary school classrooms. Today, our Head Start program offers classroom and home-based services and serves 288 children annually. In the 1970’s CAPLP expanded to include a senior’s program, Women, Infants, & Children (WIC), legal services, and the broadening of rural library services (Lake Agassiz Regional Library). Many programs and services were started at CAPLP out of community need and found their permanent home after they were established. In the 1990’s CAPLP had an established office in Wilkin County and added a housing and self-sufficiency program.
Today CAPLP offers homeless prevention, supportive housing, and outreach to people experiencing homelessness. The CAPLP self-sufficiency program has been renamed Economic Empowerment and includes assistance with taxes, financial fitness, insurance navigation, homebuyer education, and early learning scholarships so parents can afford quality care for their children. CAPLP also helps early childhood educators find trainings and improve the quality of their programs. CAPLP Career Connect links low-income families with skills training to obtain high demand careers such as nursing, welding, and manufacturing. Our coaches work with families every step of the way to overcome personal barriers to obtaining and maintaining employment. CAPLP has also recently added a Refugee Resettlement Program and New American Child Care Project.
What makes your organization so important for the community?
CAPLP responds to the needs of the community. Every 3 years we conduct a Community Needs Assessment which identifies the strengths and resources available in the community to meet the needs of children, youth, seniors, individuals, and families. The assessment helps guide our programming and services to best meet the needs of those within our community. The highest areas of need identified are transportation, child care, education/training, living wage employment, and affordable housing. CAPLP aims to address people's needs by working with the entire family to overcome any barriers they may face.
What values are most important to the organization? What do you believe in?
Eliminating poverty by empowering families and engaging the community.
What does a typical day look like at CAPLP?
A typical day at CAPLP is helping people and changing lives. Our team works tirelessly to help families overcome barriers so they can pull themselves out of poverty. Each family has unique challenges, and we can help with housing, early childhood education, employment, skill training, finances, and many other barriers. If CAPLP doesn’t specifically have a program or service to help a family thrive, our team finds an agency that can help.
Any fun or touching stories from your work you want to share with us?
We are excited to have a permanent home in Moorhead with the purchase of our new building on Belsly Boulevard. Our direct service staff will still welcome walk-ins at the Family Service Center, but our administrative offices will be located within the new building.
We also have a couple very exciting award winners! Maria Steen, Child Care Aware Manager, has been selected by the National Community Action Partnership Board for the National Advocacy Award. The National Advocacy Award recognizes Community Action practitioners who help shape smarter national, federal, state, or local policy proposals that best help families succeed. By utilizing Community Action solutions, these award winners work to create pathways to prosperity. Maria has served at CAPLP for over nine years, and she focuses her advocacy work on early childhood education and voter participation. She also leads the effort for CAPLP’s Strategic Plan strategy to empower people to advocate for their needs and the needs of low-income people in the community. This past year, Maria led her team in advocacy work to rescue the child care field nationally and within the state of Minnesota. They also share advocacy opportunities with family child care and center directors and encourage them to make their asks directly. Maria always makes sure she is at the table when policy decisions are being discussed. She is not afraid to tell the stories and make the requests that will benefit the child care field and the children in care.
Jamie Roach, a CAPLP Career Connect graduate, will be honored with the 2021 National Sargent Shriver Personal Achievement Award. Jamie and Maria will be honored at the Awards Gala in Boston, MA on September 2, 2021.
The National Sargent Shriver Personal Achievement Award, named for Sargent Shriver, the first director of the federal Office of Economic Opportunity, recognizes individuals who have changed their lives, embody Community Action’s spirit of hope, and are now working to make America a better place to live. These individuals, with the assistance of Community Action, have achieved economic stability and are now working to assist others in doing the same. Jamie would do anything for her children. She became a mom at 14 and had a less than ideal childhood filled with violence and addiction. When she found CAPLP three years ago, Jamie and her four children were homeless and living with a friend. Jamie enrolled her youngest daughter, Laila, in Head Start. A CAPLP Housing Program helped Jamie’s family get a place of their own, and Jamie enrolled in the CAPLP Career Connect Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. She worked tirelessly, while CAPLP supported and encouraged her.
After earning her CNA license, Jamie was hired full-time at an assisted living facility. Jamie was promoted to lead caregiver, has worked for the same facility for over 2 years, and earned her Certified Medication Assistant certificate. As Jamie reached economic stability, she was asked by the United Way Cass-Clay to share her story. Thousands of people have heard Jamie’s story, and she’s inspired countless people to better their lives and reach economic stability. She gives back each day at work by helping elderly patients live happy, healthy lives. In August 2020, Jamie enrolled in college to pursue her dream of becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse.
Currently, Jamie is working closely with Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity to build a home for her family. On top of work, school, and caring for her kids, Jamie is also required to put in 250 hours of sweat equity into building her home. Did you know that Habitat Homeowners pay for their homes? They don't give the homes away, it is a hand up, not a hand out. Our CAPLP team has also been pitching in some sweat equity to help the Roach family build their home!
How else are you involved in the community?
Community is intertwined with everything we do at CAPLP. Not only do we have housing advocates officed out of our schools, but we also have countless community partnerships with other organizations and businesses. Our team loves to give back and many volunteer, serve on boards, and work closely with other not-for-profit organizations through joint case management. We’ve recently had several team members volunteering for Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for a couple families we serve.
What is one thing you most want others to know about you?
CAPLP gives the gift of transformation to those we serve. We provide a hand up (not a hand out) and truly work with families to overcome barriers so they can defeat generational poverty.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Our team is our most valuable resource. All our work is impossible without our dedicated and caring team.