It is the purpose of the Community Action Agencies (CAA) to provide a range of services and opportunities having a measurable and potentially major impact on the causes of poverty in the community. CAA assist low income people to secure and maintain adequate housing and suitable living environment, obtain emergency assistance to meet immediate individual and family needs for healthy nutrition, housing and employment needs, and remove obstacles and solve personal family problems that block the achievement of self-sufficiency.
Akron Summit Community Action, Inc. (ASCA) is designated as the primary sponsor of the anti-poverty program in Summit County Ohio (Ohio Department of Development, County of Summit, City of Akron Designation). In July 2003, the ASCA decided to co-chair an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Coalition of Akron along with the City of Akron. The main emphasis of this Coalition was leveraging community resources to assist low-income families. This included the number of Akron families who applied for the Earned Income Tax Credit, increasing availability and use of free tax preparation sites (VITA), and increasing financial literacy and linkages of EITC applicants.
During the 2004 filing season, ASCA applied and received a fund to manage an appointment line to schedule appointments for low-income families to call an to set up a time to have the tax returns prepared at one of the five free tax preparation sites. One of the five sites operated out of one of ASCA’s facilities and ASCA also provided the EITC program with an overall Site Coordinator. During the 2004 filing season, 240 tax returns were prepared by volunteers for low-income families and 386,161 were educated about the EITC through newspaper articles and television spots. There were 42,848 educated through mailings to low-income families. A local template produced by the ASCA provided the information source of the newspaper articles, television spots and the mailings.
In the 2005 filing season, the Coalition decided to reduce the number of sites to use the available volunteers more effectively. During the 2005 filing season, 817 tax returns were prepared for low-income families, 622,969 were educated about the EITC through Media sources and 119,674 were educated through flyers, brochures, and mailings about the EITC. Most of the tax returns were electronically filed. In addition to savings on the tax preparation fees, electronically filed returns prepared by volunteers, also saves the low-income clients from the exorbitant costs of return anticipation loans. Even though all the efforts stated above were accomplishments of the Coalition Partners, they could not have been done, without ASCA leading the way and providing the appropriate information and resources for the volunteers. For the filing season 2006, the Knight Foundations provide funds so that this service can continue, and The Coalition has increased its goal to service at least 1,200 clients.