The ACAM Network advances collaboration to create community-wide solutions for thriving nonprofits, neighborhoods and families.
Established in 2004, ACAM is a 501(c)(3) management support organization (MSO) focusing on capacity and sustainability through member services for community assistance ministries (CAMs) that meet certain requirements and operate in the Greater Houston area. Current and prospective members of ACAM are basic needs providers that are faith-based in mission, vision, and origin, without requiring a particular expression of faith or participation in religious activity as a basis for receiving services. Network ministries serve as the social service "safety net," preventing homelessness, assisting in disaster recovery, meeting basic needs, and helping people become self-sufficient. On average, ACAM network partners have served the community for 30 years; collectively, they serve approximately 200,000 clients annually. In 2018 ACAM members were supported by nearly 24,000 volunteers and more than 300 congregations across the Greater Houston area, including Harris, Galveston, Fort Bend, Brazoria and Montgomery Counties.
Organizational Development Needs: Funding for projects that support the organizational development of our region's network of community assistance ministries (CAMs).
Training and Networking Needs: Speakers with expertise in areas of nonprofit leadership, risk management, volunteerism, resource development, thrift store management, and program development; host and coordinate trainings developed for the faith-based nonprofit community.
Advocacy and Outreach: Aimed at increasing membership by reaching out to underserved parts of Greater Houston, raising the profile of network organizations as collective impact hubs in their communities, and raising awareness around issues affecting people served by CAMs.
Collaborative Initiative Needs: Funding for program development, research and evaluation, continuous quality improvement, and program implementation. Current initiatives include: Resiliency FIRST, Financial Capability Collaborative, Homelessness Prevention, and Disaster Planning and Response.
Management Support Services (MSS) Needs: Funding to conduct outreach to the faith-based nonprofit community; research and further development of the Nine Elements Organizational Assessment Tool (NEAT©).
Through organizational assessments, financial support, and technical support, ACAM helps ministries in our network grow in their capacity to serve more people more effectively and with a wider variety of programs. ACAM’s recently implemented cohort structure helps us meet organizations where they are as they participate in organizational assessments and develop outcome-oriented projects. ACAM embraces a coaching model as we offer help to organizations seeking to meet their full potential.
As the ACAM Network takes bolder steps to more holistically address issues that keep families in cycles of crisis, the leaders and staff at ACAM partner organizations have recognized new areas for development. In response, ACAM designed and hosted expert-led trainings to support collaborative initiatives such as helping families increase resiliency and to address strategic objectives such as more effectively measuring program impact. In addition to our long-standing cohorts—executive leadership, program development, resource development, thrift store management—we also introduced tracks related to finances and operations. ACAM plans to continue these practices in 2020.
ACAM leverages the assets of community service providers and builds cross-sector partnerships toward collective impact, creating community-wide solutions for thriving nonprofits, neighborhoods, and families. ACAM conducts research, measures outcomes, and designs programs encompassing best practices, doing so at a level at which direct-service nonprofits rarely have the resources. In turn, through ACAM, the network is increasing collaboration, promoting each other’s development, raising service standards, innovating programs, and making a greater impact in the lives of low-income families across the region. ACAM works closely with its valuable nonprofit partners, developing models as co-creators and engaging in collaboration as a way for each organization to fulfill their individual goals, together. With that posture, ACAM intentionally seeks to develop customizable models which partners can use to implement new programs in a way that makes sense in their neighborhood and agency context.
In 2019, the ACAM Network operated two pilots informed by 15 years of collaborative work and client data trends: Resiliency FIRST and the Financial Capability Collaborative. These projects are interrelated due to the way they synergistically meet the needs of the ACAM Network’s client population. Resiliency FIRST is a two-year research and development project initiated by ACAM and four partnering ministries: Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM), Katy Christian Ministries (KCM), St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP), and Wesley Community Center (WCC). FIRST is a proposed client program model to support clients from crisis intervention to resiliency services in order to prepare clients to engage in the longer journey to self-sufficiency.
With the Financial Capability Collaborative, three ACAM partners—Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM), Katy Christian Ministries (KCM), and Wesley Community Center (WCC)—are providing financial coaching and savings incentives to help families attain financial freedom and change their mindset about money. This program target low-income individuals with housing stability issues and utilize financial coaching to prepare them to withstand future emergencies. The pilot included providing financial coaching, goal setting assistance, savings incentives, and service navigation to 221 clients over nine months. Now with nine months of program data, the ACAM collaborative is refining the model to better meet client needs.
Collaborative Network Results: ACAM hosted 62 trainings/meetings (135 hours) related to financial capability and Resiliency FIRST with 494 duplicated attendees; 37 participants have become trained in both financial coaching and self-sufficiency assessments; Developed & implemented data tracking in partner organizations’ systems; Mapped each partner’s services to the 24 domains of self-sufficiency; Developed individualized logic models and project plans for the Year 2 pilots.
Client Service Results: More than 70% (71.1%) of clients reduced their debt, which contributed to increased wealth for 67% of clients; 67% of the 91 clients assessed had improved Housing Stability scores, with the average score rising from 2.3 (Vulnerable) to 3.2 (Safe); 221 people attended 490 financial coaching sessions, with 106 people (48%) returning for more than one session; Clients established 418 goals comprised of 1,085 mutually agreed upon tasks; 58% of the tasks and 46% of the goals were completed.
Beyond Resiliency FIRST and FCC, ACAM continues to participate in other successful collaborative initiatives. For example, ACAM’s Homelessness Prevention Collaborative assisted 242 people, 61% of whom were children. Upon entry into the program, participants were facing homelessness within the next 14 days, had extremely low incomes, and presented with an average of 4 out of 13 barriers to stable housing. After an average of 82 days in the program, 100% were stably housed at exit and 95% remained stably housed 3 months after exiting the program (99% renting without any subsidy). The average participant exited the program with an average 149% increase in income, for an average annual income of $22,445. Non-cash benefits grew by 84% from entry to exit, and for those who had income at exit, their housing cost burden decreased by 37% during the program.
ACAM is co-creating a multi-disciplinary learning network and helping to establish a supportive environment for families in traditionally disconnected sectors. ACAM takes the understanding of our partners’ experience and neighborhoods to advocates, conveners, and funders to contribute that perspective to the field for the benefit of families in need. At these community-wide meetings, ACAM also develops cross-sector relationships and synthesizes information to take back to the network. As we work together, we are all better equipped to address complex social problems and reach the underserved areas of Greater Houston.
As the Houston/Harris County Continuum of Care (CoC) is moving into the family homelessness and homelessness prevention portion of the their 10-year plan to end homelessness, ACAM has been heavily involved in the Homelessness Prevention Workgroup tasked with developing effective strategies to address these issues. ACAM has been sharing both the lessons we have learned and our network’s vision for the future with the group and has helped the workgroup define levels of prevention along a continuum. The group’s next steps include deciding which areas of need to target with the region’s limited resources, developing screening tools, and developing outcome measures. ACAM’s CEO serves as the regionally elected emergency response systems representative to CoC’s leadership body (Steering Committee).
ACAM offers expertise and support to organizations and networks outside our affiliate base with research and organizational assessments; distribution of resources and facilitation of partnerships; technical assistance and targeted trainings; collaboration, support to other networks; and fiscal sponsorship.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.