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7 May, 2024

Community Organizers Win Trust and Support Through Service

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Community Organizers Win Trust and Support Through Service

Organizing starts with community service.

"I began as a community organizer in a poor neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, working with people to help improve their lives... this taught me about the power and importance of ordinary people coming together to create a better vision — their own vision — for the future." - President Obama

A huge need is helping community members find out about Federal and State benefits that they are entitled to and desperately need, but don't know how to get. Think about it: How is a disabled veteran without a car or computer expected to find and apply for benefits??

Democracy Centers serve and organize underserved areas. They're local resources that support ongoing, year-round civic engagement in underserved communities of color where the ill effects of historic systemic racism are deeply entrenched and oppressive. Democracy Centers are using Find My Benefits app to meet this need. This blog describes how the app works and how Janice, a Democracy Center volunteer helped a single mother of three find $948 in monthly benefits.

Community organizers serve others

Find My Benefits helps community organizers serve their community members.

Help finding the benefits they're entitled to

"Applying for federal safety net programs is often confusing, burdensome, and stigmatizing for families in need of immediate assistance to access food, housing, health care, and other essentials. Many Americans in need have difficulties in getting the benefits they desperately need and are entitled to. It's especially hard for Black and Hispanic families. Not having transport to go to the local agency, a disability, language difficulties or taking time off work to apply all make it harder to get benefits. 

They have trouble with determining their eligibility for the benefits and finding out how much they are. This includes benefits such as unemployment insurance, TANF, SNAP, Medicaid/CHIP, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, and rental assistance programs." - Urban Institute

Find the benefits you are entitled to
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Find My Benefits

Find My Benefits is a web-based app that asks a few questions to determine what benefits a person might be eligible for using the Benefit Kitchen database. A Benefit Report is produced immediately that can be shared on a laptop or as a text message. Community organizers collect the user's contact name and phone number so they can follow up with them

Community organizers ask residents a few questions and generate a list of the potential benefits they might be entitle for and how to apply for them. These benefits cover help with food, housing, utilities, health insurance, and other necessities.
Food assistance - Learn how to get nutritious food for yourself and your family through SNAP (food stamps), D-SNAP, and WIC for women, infants, and children
Help with utility bills - Learn about government programs to help pay for phone, internet, and energy bills.
Welfare benefits - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federally funded, state-run program.
Health insurance - Get information on Medicaid, Medicare, the ACA health insurance and COBRA

Center For Common Ground Democracy Center

Democracy Centers

Democracy Centers are year-round resources in community-based organizations, like churches that serve the community. The are located in communities of color where more than half of eligible voters no longer choose to vote. These communities are often rural have high levels of race-based concentrated poverty, lower social mobility, higher rates of environmental pollution, and restrictive voter suppression laws.

Residents often say “My vote doesn’t matter” which reflects their frustration with the lack of improvement in community pain points regardless of who is elected. helping them find benefits that can improve their lives is the starting point to getting more involved in civic participation and voting. This change can’t come from outside; it can only happen from within.

Organizing and list building with FindMyBenefits

Organizers first create an account for their group in FindMyBenefits and get a customized link for their group that they can share on social media, emails or postcards. Recipients can complete the survey and get their Benefits Report. The campaign organizer gets a list of the people who completed the survey through their link. An organizer can also optionally add volunteers who will be canvassing or phone banking with the group's link. This lets the organizer know how many Benefit Finder reports were generated by each volunteer. Learn more here.

TakeAway: Win trust and support through community service.

DISCLAIMER: ALTHOUGH THE DATA FOUND IN THIS BLOG AND INFOGRAPHIC HAS BEEN PRODUCED AND PROCESSED FROM SOURCES BELIEVED TO BE RELIABLE, NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED CAN BE MADE REGARDING THE ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, LEGALITY OR RELIABILITY OF ANY SUCH INFORMATION. THIS DISCLAIMER APPLIES TO ANY USES OF THE INFORMATION WHETHER ISOLATED OR AGGREGATE USES THEREOF.

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