Advocate Community Action

Who can be an advocate? Anyone who wants SMCAA's mission and vision to be a reality throughout Southwest Michigan. 

What is advocacy? Advocacy is defined as any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others.

Speak Out About Poverty

Let your voice be heard. Be involved in advocacy at the local, state and national level. Call or email your representatives, and share your concerns about poverty in your community. Urge them to take action by supporting the needs of low-income families. Encourage them to share our vision: A state where all people and communities thrive. 

Engage key influencers in your community. Educate key leaders about the impact of poverty in the community. Organize a poverty simulation to experience living in poverty. Encourage them to share the SMCAA mission (easy to do through our Facebook page!) with their followers online. 

Bring attention to the media. When you have organized community support and understand key poverty issues, get them out to the general public. Invite media to your poverty simulation.

Speak to your Legislators. When it comes to federal funding, who better to reach out to than the men and women voted to make an impact on such issues. Unsure who your representatives are? View your House of Representatives here and your Senators here.

The following are current legislation in need of your advocacy:

Community Services Block Grant

The federal Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) is Community Action’s core funding.


These funds are tailored to the individual needs of each local Community Action Agency and their local service areas.


SMCAA supports:

  • Reauthorization of the CSBG Act.

  • Increased funding to match growing requirements for data collection and reporting.

Food and Nutrition Services

When properly nourished, children learn and retain information better and adults are healthier, more positive, and more resilient. Community Action Agencies in Michigan feed thousands of people every year through a wide variety of food-related services, including food pantries, Meals on Wheels, and congregate meals for seniors.

SMCAA supports:

  • Securing more Commodity Supplement Food Program slots for Community Action Agencies as allocated by the Michigan Department of Education.

  • Expanding The Emergency Food Assistance Program’s (TEFAP) administrative funding to include costs of distributing “bonus” items.

Senior Programs

Michigan’s CAAs provide a wide range of services to assist older residents with tools to maintain self-sufficiency through their later years. 


SMCAA supports the Silver Key Coalition’ efforts to increase state funding for in-home services that assist individuals and family caregivers in managing and/or performing necessary activities of daily living, including personal care, homemaking, chore assistance, home-delivered meals, minor home repairs, and other needed services.

Housing Services

Michigan’s low-income families deserve decent, safe, and affordable housing, and many Community Action Agencies offer programs that assist them in achieving home-ownership while protecting those facing foreclosure and homelessness. Cultivating responsible home-ownership and rentals is essential to growing our state’s economy.

SMCAA supports enhancing policies that can help prevent homelessness and provide homebuyer education and mortgage counseling. Furthermore, we support state housing policies that foster the development of thriving communities for children, parents, and seniors.

Poverty Level Calculation Change

SMCAA is deeply troubled by the Administration’s proposal to change the way the official poverty threshold is adjusted, potentially shifting to an inflation measure that would define fewer people as poor. Such a change would ensure that vulnerable people will not be able to access programs and services needed to stabilize their families. While seeking comments on a range of inflation measures, the Administration’s consideration of the Chained CPI (Consumer Price Index) to modify the poverty line each year is of significant concern.

Despite Michigan’s economic recovery, thousands in our state are still living in poverty and even more are just one missed paycheck away from hardship. As the Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed (ALICE) Report for Michigan confirms, 43% of households struggle to afford necessities including housing, utilities, food, child care, technology/internet, health care and transportation.

Whether our neighbors are experiencing a temporary set-back or have been priced out of affordable housing –many families struggle to achieve a modest quality of life.  This proposal would, just by changing the measure of poverty, disqualify low income families and seniors for vital services. While starting small, the disparity between today’s poverty thresholds and those ten years from now under the Chained CPI is real and would lead to hundreds of thousands being ineligible for services.

Working families, seniors, and those living with disabilities would be impacted by this proposed change. The Administration has put a request out for comment and SMCAA will join many other non-profit human service organizations in responding.  Community Action would welcome a real dialogue on adjusting poverty thresholds so that we can move towards real solutions that help families succeed. The Supplemental Poverty Measure is a start, but Chained CPI adjustments send us in the wrong direction.

Energy Efficiency

Reducing the amount of energy used in our businesses and households bene ts all of Michigan. Community Action energy services increase home values, put local contractors to work, and reduce household utility expenses. Our partnerships with utility companies and our agencies’ own fundraising events stretch public dollars even further.

SMCAA supports:

  • Preserving and promoting energy efficiency and home weatherization measures to lower the energy burden for low-income families and to increase conservation.

  • Expanding energy efficiency programs for utilities that choose not to operate low-income energy programs on their own.

  • Continuing the annual state appropriation of Federal LIHEAP funds for Weatherization efforts.

Contact Information

185 E Main St, Ste 303

Benton Harbor, MI 49022

(269) 925-9077

Office Hours

Monday - Friday

8:00am to 4:30pm

Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency

SMCAA is dedicated to empowering diverse people in need and supporting their journey towards economic security.

Our vision: to be a beacon of support in a strong, thriving community by helping people and changing lives.

USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal Civil Rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Civil Rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior credible activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at How to File a Program Discrimination Complaint and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

© 2019 Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency. All Rights Reserved. 

SMCAA is a private social service non-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization.