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Community Needs Assessment

In the fall of 2023, MAPA Collaborative, LLC was commissioned to assist an organization in completing a Community Needs Assessment. The Community Needs Assessment (CNA) Report was designed to provide an overview of current data and findings related to the service areas.  

According to the National Community Action Partnership, “a Community Needs Assessment is a process conducted by all Community Action Agencies every three years to determine the underlying causes and conditions of poverty within the community they serve and identify the available resources to address the unmet needs of the community’s most vulnerable residents. The Community Needs Assessment is the first phase of the Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) Cycle, grounding and guiding the work to develop and implement programs and services that lift families and communities out of poverty. The execution of a regular Community Needs Assessment is a requirement for all CSBG Eligible Entities, and one of the nine categories (Category 3) of the Organizational Standards.” 

The CNA report included an analysis of five key areas: Education, Employment, Income and Asset Building, Housing, Health and Behavioral, and Community Engagement

MAPA designed the CNA to: 

  1. Offer data at the county level, along with a regional analysis. 

  2. Include statistical data, survey data, and qualitative information. 

  3. Identify the top five (5) needs in the county and the CAA service area that included individual, household, and community-level needs and the causes of those needs. 

  4. Include topics on COVID-19 and the effects the pandemic has had on our communities. 

  5. Include data and analysis by income group, stakeholder group type, raw data from surveys, a summary of qualitative data, and analysis. 

MAPA Deliverables Included: 

  1. Survey tools in Spanish and English. 

  1. A final document will include an Executive Summary, an Explanation, Analysis, and Recommendations.

  2. Working closely with the project team to ensure that the CNA provides a large enough sampling to confidently use the information to make decisions about programming over the next three years. 

  3. MAPA described the sampling pool for each component and the target number of responses and provided outreach strategies that included a communications toolkit with fliers in Spanish and English.

  4. MAPA used the Census Bureau and other recognized and reliable sources for general demographic information to create a profile of the county/region. 

  5. MAPA conducted activities to meet CSBG Organizational Standards. 

Sample Scope of Services

Activity by MAPA

Resources Needed 

Desired Outcome 

CSBG Standard

Analyze information collected directly from low-income individuals as part of the Community Needs Assessment.

Data can be collected through focus groups, interviews, community forums, customer surveys, etc. 

Summaries, review of low-income data, community forum summaries, and interview transcripts. 

Standard 1.2

Gather information from key sectors of the community to assess needs and resources. 

Engage community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, private sector, public sector, and educational institutions.

Documentation demonstrating that all five sectors have been engaged.

Standard 2.2

Develop a communication strategy. 

Communication objectives; target audience; metrics and milestones; 

Executive Summary or abbreviated document that can be distributed electronically.

Standard 2.3

Conduct a poverty analysis by target regions. 

Organization collects and includes current data specific to poverty and its prevalence related to gender, age, and race/ethnicity for their service area(s).

Data that can inform all levels of decision-making to strengthen the planning, design, monitoring, and evaluation of a project and thereby contribute to poverty reduction.

Standard 3.2

Collect and analyze both qualitative and quantitative data.

Specific geographic service area(s) in the community assessment.

Data is documented in the analysis section of the Community Needs Assessment. 

Standard 3.3

Conduct an analysis to determine conditions of poverty in target areas. 

Info. about numbers of homeless, free and reduced school lunch statistics, SNAP participation rates, lack of living wage jobs, lack of affordable housing, low education attainment rates, etc.

Include key findings on the causes and conditions of poverty and the needs of the communities assessed as part of the final report to the board of directors and agency leadership. 

Standard 3.4

Statistical Profile: Secondary data was utilized to produce county and regional profiles, then analyzed to gain insight into the prevalence and origins of poverty in the service area. The analysis focused on poverty rates based on age, gender, race, and ethnicity at a county level at minimum.

Review of Existing Data: MAPA reviewed existing data provided by the organization and analyzed it as part of the project. 

Information from Low-Income individuals and families: MAPA designed a process to gather information through surveys and focus groups. 

Information from key stakeholders: The evaluation was designed to include first-hand information obtained through surveys, focus groups, or research. The organization staff agreed to ensure to engage key stakeholders.

Analysis: The Needs assessment included the analysis of the information and listed areas of need. 

Final Document: The final document was delivered in PDF form.

The MAPA Collaborative team has reaffirmed its capacity to conduct a Community Needs Assessment process. MAPA produced a comprehensive report containing over 50 pages of information, accompanied by graphs and sources that shed light on the county in question. The report generated actionable insights that the organization can use to define its strategic direction despite the inherent challenges of the assessment process. Below is a sample of the table of contents: 

Sample Table of Contents

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

  2. About (organization)

  3. Leadership

  4. Background

  5. Executive Summary

  6. Process and Methodology

  7. About (name) County

  8. Income and Poverty

  9. Education

  10. Employment

  11. Food Security

  12. Housing

  13. Transportation

  14. (Organization) Client/Community Survey Demographics

  15. COVID-19 and (name) County

  16. Poverty as a Social Determinant of Health and the Connection to 

Community Action Agencies

  1. Findings: Key Informant Survey

  2. Observations and Recommendations

  3. Appendices

  4. Community Needs Assessment 2023 (survey)

  5. Evaluación de necesidades comunitarias 2023

  6. Staff Brief Survey 

  7. Breve encuesta para el equipo de trabajo 

  8. Interview Questions for Elected Officials and Board Members 

  9. Acknowledgments

  10. References

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