It’s no secret. One key to success for a government health or human services program is grassroots buy in. Local nonprofits like food pantries, Head Start programs and faith-based organizations have to know about the program, understand it and be a champion for it in their communities.
Texas’ Faith and Community-Based Initiative is an effort to build partnerships between state agency programs and local faith and community-based organizations. Established by the Texas Legislature, the goal of the initiative is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs and services by leveraging the resources and connections of the nonprofit sector and to reduce barriers that discourage nonprofits from partnering with the state.
The cornerstone of the legislation is the Task Force on Improving Relations with Nonprofits, a group made up of leaders of Texas’ nonprofit world. Task force members meet regularly with state agency staff to identify areas of potential partnership between state agencies and local nonprofits to develop strategies for removing barriers to those partnerships. The task force also ensures that information about new state-driven opportunities and strategies are communicated broadly through Texas’ formal and informal nonprofit communications networks.
Already, collaboration between state agency staff members and the task force are yielding concrete results. With the pilot launch of its Community Partner Program, HHSC is training staff from faith- and community-based organizations so they can act as navigators, helping people fill out and submit applications for state benefits and manage their case on HHSC’s website, YourTexasBenefits.com. The full navigator program is expected to roll out statewide this fall.
For more information about the task force and other efforts to forge state and nonprofit partnerships, visit the Faith- and Community-Based Initiatives page of the HHSC website.
Currently, the task force is working with state agency staff on the following projects:
- Development of a web portal for nonprofits to learn about partnership opportunities with the state.
- Development of a training for state agency and nonprofit staff on the laws governing faith-based participation in public programs.
- Identifying nonprofits who want to help people in their communities apply for state benefits through the HHSC YourTexasBenefits.com website.
- Helping nonprofits understand and work within state procurement and contract processes.