Members of west central Minnesota's Family Economic Success (FES) Council hired a bus to head to St. Paul on Feb. 12 (with stops to pick up members in Fergus Falls, Elbow Lake and Alexandria) to be recognized by the Minnesota Community Action Partnership, the Minnesota Department of Human Services Office of Economic Opportunity and the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development at their annual "Best Practices & Promising Practices" awards.
The award recognized the collaboration among west central Minnesota Community Action agencies, social service and public agencies, low-income representatives and elected officials serving a nine-county area (including West Central Initiative), to create and implement a work plan focused on assets and self-sufficiency promotion in their region.
The practice's impact has been substantial:
- increased EITC filings in region by 25 percent in one year.
- an additional $165,000 leveraged to promote and implement asset programs like Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM), EITC/tax assistance and financial literacy classes.
- the successful development of Northern Connections, a non-profit organization that offers remote phone support to low-income individuals entering or re-entering the workforce.
- the establishment of a $5,000 interest-free emergency loan fund for those participating in the FAIM program.
The Family Economic Success Council includes:
- Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership
- Mahube Community Council, Inc.
- Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action Council
- West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Inc