The Access Community Action Agency was recently acknowledged by the Northeast Institute for Quality Community Action (NIQCA) for receiving the highest assessment score given by NIQCA in 57 assessements over the past 6 years. Access exceeded management best practice standards in all six content areas that were assessed, including board governance and leadership, fiscal management and responsibility, and strategic planning and community collaboration. These findings were the result of a comprehensive 12-step, five-month self- and peer assessment process using NIQCA’s Quality Community Action System (QCAS). Access scored 3.7 on a scale in which a score of 3 indicates that the agency “fully meets best practice standard” and a score of 4 indicates the agency “exceeds best practice standards.”
“It’s gratifying that Access has received this positive feedback and powerful affirmation of our commitment to excellence as an organization, which results from the commitment of many individuals at the heart and soul of what we do,” said Access President/CEO Peter DeBiasi. “We take our responsibility to be good stewards of the community’s resources very seriously. This report reinforces that Access continues to be an organization that funders and donors alike can trust to effectively and responsibly put their resources to work to continue to carry out this community’s commitment to caring. My personal thanks goes out to our volunteer board of directors for their outstanding leadership and to Access staff for their dedication and hard work as we continue to partner to build economic stability for local families and communities.”
The QCAS is a comprehensive assessment tool that examines community action agency policies, practices, and procedures. It is designed to help agencies measure successes and areas for improvement in six content areas: planning and community investment, operational management and structure, governance, information technology, human resources, and finance and budget. Access staff from all departments worked in cross-functional teams to interview key staff and board members and audit an extensive array of agency documents. Each team then scored the agency on a list of best practice elements in each content area. A NIQCA peer review team visited Access in May and mirrored that process, conducting its own intensive audit of agency documents and re-interviewing agency staff and board members.
In its final feedback report, the NIQCA peer review team extended its “congratulations to [Access’s] board and staff for this important achievement.” Further, in presenting the report to agency staff, NIQCA Executive Director William A. Hunter, who lead the review team, noted that in seven years of conducting nearly 60 community action agency reviews, NIQCA has never seen such a high score in the area of agency governance, nor have they encountered such a strong commitment to ensure that strategic planning drives daily operations of the organization.
In addition to Mr. Hunter, the peer review team included peer reviewers Mark Isenburg, Vice President of Workforce Development and Technology Services at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), Inc. in Boston, MA, and David Biltcliffe, Associate Director of Citizens for Citizens (CFC), Inc. in Fall River, MA.
NIQCA was founded in January 2005 and is a product of a four-year three-state collaborative effort between representatives of local community action agencies, state associations, and public officials located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. NIQCA’s mission is to promote excellence in the management of Community Action Agencies. NIQCA’s Quality Community Action System (QCAS) provides the tools and resources for agencies to organize a program of continuous quality improvement, which will cost-effectively identify management strengths and provide a roadmap to make improvements where needed. This investment to foster management excellence will sustain a strong and resilient Community Action network that promotes the well-being and economic stability of low-income consumers throughout the tri-state area.
The Access Community Action Agency is designated by federal and state government as one of two anti-poverty agencies serving eastern Connecticut. Access provides services to meet the local need for food, emergency shelter, energy assistance, energy conservation, job and life skills training, youth transitional housing, youth mentoring, affordable housing for seniors and more for low-income families and individuals. For additional information about Access’ services, call (860) 450-7400 in the Willimantic area, (860) 412-1600 in the Danielson area, or visit www.accessagency.org.