Through COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current, we seek to empower organizations to implement best practice standards to improve service delivery and achieve better outcomes for individuals and communities. COA Accreditation provides a framework to help organizations manage resources, incorporate best practices, and strive for continuous improvement.

We believe there is rich expertise in our field, so we ground the COA Accreditation process in our human and social services community. Our volunteer peer reviewers conduct our site visits and finalize accreditation decisions.

We are proud to spotlight the latest Volunteer of the Quarter: Tiffany Rexrode.

About Tiffany Rexrode

Tiffany graduated from Shepherd College in 2000 with a bachelor’s in social work. In 2004, she completed her master’s in social work from the University of Maryland. She has worked in public child welfare since 2000 within two state systems, West Virginia and Maryland. She has served in many roles within public child welfare, currently as the director of the Washington County Department of Social Services (WCDSS). She also teaches as an adjunct instructor for Shepherd University and Salisbury University. She first learned about COA Accreditation during her own agency’s accreditation cycle.


What three traits define you?

I am driven, innovative, and organized.

What are your strongest beliefs about the value of COA Accreditation?

Because the standards are always adapting, COA Accreditation helps agencies to stay relevant with best practices.

What advice would you give someone interested in being a COA Accreditation volunteer?

This is a great opportunity to learn field driven best practices, visit new and interesting places, and meet wonderful colleagues – some of which become lifelong friends.

Share a memorable place, person, or experience from a site visit.

I have several treasured memories from site visits. I love to visit new places around the country. I loved South Dakota, Oregon, the Gateway Arch, and spending time in Nashville. There is always opportunity to have a nice time with team members too: random trivia nights, musical BINGO, the Grand Ole Opry, an awareness walk “A Mile in her Shoes,” escape rooms, or exploring local restaurants. Some of my best travel memories have been made on COA reviews.

What excites, surprises, and/or challenges you the most about the work you do as a COA Accreditation volunteer?

In over 40 reviews, I have always left with a new idea, a new consideration, a new philosophy, or a new opportunity that has influenced my practice. I have been able to implement several ideas in my own agency.

Learn more about how to become a peer review volunteer and apply online.

Lawmakers are on the verge of finalizing a significant deal to break the funding gridlock in Congress before a partial government shutdown on March 2. Discussions center around a potential arrangement in which a pilot program narrowing food options for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries would be launched in return for increased funding for other nutritional programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Championed by Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture Andy Harris (R-Md.), the proposed pact includes the SNAP-choice pilot program within the Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration spending bill. The bill bolsters WIC, which faces an imminent funding shortfall.

The pilot initiative, designed to encourage healthier dietary decisions, has ignited controversy within nutrition advocacy circles as well as the food industry. Despite these ongoing disputes and reservations, the increased funding allocations for a range of nutritional programs signals a comprehensive endeavor to tackle funding challenges and strengthen food assistance initiatives. There is opposition from some House Democrats who advocate for disentangling the SNAP-choice initiative from bipartisan WIC funding endeavors; however, the deal has already been elevated to congressional leaders who, reportedly, will finalize it within days.

New HHS Study Highlights Positive Fiscal Impact of Refugees and Asylees

A recent comprehensive study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) reveals the substantial positive fiscal impact of refugees and asylees on the American economy from 2005 to 2019. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said, “This historic federal study is important data-driven evidence demonstrating that over time, refugees, asylees, and their immediate families have made significant positive fiscal contributions to our country.”

The study underscores the notable contributions made by refugees and asylees to both the U.S. government and society. Key findings indicate, during the 15-year period, refugees and asylees had a positive net fiscal impact of nearly $124 billion, with substantial contributions to government revenue totaling $581 billion. While the study acknowledges the initial costs associated with governmental expenditures on refugees and asylees, it emphasizes the long-term positive cumulative effects on government budgets. According to ASPE, the report helps the public to understand the positive financial return on assistance to refugees and asylees.

HUD Releases Update to Equity Action Plan

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) unveiled the 2023 update to its Equity Action Plan, in line with the Biden-Harris Administration’s overarching equity agenda. In a statement, Secretary Marcia L. Fudge emphasized HUD’s dedication to rectifying historical disparities, particularly affecting marginalized groups like Black, Brown, and low-income individuals. HUD’s Equity Action Plan aims to embed equity into all facets of its operations, echoing the administration’s directive to prioritize racial equity.

Since its initial release in 2022, HUD has facilitated homeownership for approximately a quarter of a million Black individuals through Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages. Additionally, HUD has advanced initiatives such as finalizing rules on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) to address housing inequality as well as reinstating the Discriminatory Effects Rule to combat systemic housing discrimination. The agency has also expanded access to housing counseling and provided $10 million to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for housing and community development research. Moreover, HUD allocated $30 million to fair housing organizations and implemented measures to provide second chances for individuals with criminal records in public housing.

Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing on Drug Prices

On Feb. 8, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hosted a hearing entitled, “Why Does the United States Pay, by Far, the Highest Prices in the World for Prescription Drugs?” The first panel was made up of CEOs from three major pharmaceutical companies: Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Bristol Myers Squibb. The CEOs highlighted their companies’ contributions to healthcare innovation and pressed lawmakers to support policies that encourage innovation, price transparency, and health equity while avoiding policies like drug price controls.

The second panel of experts began with Peter Maybarduk of Public Citizen, who underscored the financial obstacles to medication access, particularly for vulnerable populations, and criticized pharmaceutical companies for exploiting their market power through patent abuse. He acknowledged recent efforts by the Biden administration but urged further reforms to alleviate the crisis, such as targeting practices of specific companies.

Tahir Amin from Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge argued the rampant use of patent thickets to extend market monopolies in the pharmaceutical industry is a widespread issue. He suggested Congress redefine what qualifies as a patent-worthy invention, as many patents are granted for trivial modifications rather than truly innovative breakthroughs. Darius Lakdawalla of the University of Southern California Schaeffer Center emphasized the need to balance medical innovation with affordability, cautioning against blunt price controls and advocating for policies that align drug prices with their value to stimulate beneficial innovation. He suggested legislation promoting transparency and affordable insurance coverage can help address accessibility issues for American families.

Subscribe to the Policy and Advocacy Radar to receive our biweekly policy roundup, which includes commentary on issues in Social Current’s federal policy agenda, opportunities to take action, and curated news and opportunities.

Social Current is pleased to announce that CCNY, Inc. has signed on to become a Platinum Strategic Industry Partner for 2024. Strategic Industry Partners play an important role in helping Social Current bring together leaders from across our network of more than 1,800 human and social service organizations to collaborate, innovate, and solve problems. Social Current intentionally nurtures relationship building between our partners, organizations, and professionals to offer solutions as we work toward a stronger and more viable social sector.

CCNY, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Buffalo, New York, provides a comprehensive spectrum of services that range from program evaluation and data analytics to quality improvement and training. A recognized leader in the industry when it comes to improving service delivery in human services, they help organizations understand how to achieve their mission and drive positive change. Their expertise supports organizations in their goal to become data-driven organizations focused on increasing their capacity with utilization focused tools to improve positive outcomes.

“Building a stronger, more collaborative social service network means it is more critical than ever to foster connections and strategic partnerships across our sector,” commented Jody Levison-Johnson, president and CEO of Social Current. “As our Platinum Strategic Industry Partner, CCNY, Inc., brings a strong expertise on how organizations can better fulfill their mission while still achieving their bottom line. We are pleased to welcome them as Social Current’s first platinum partner for 2024.”

“The shared commitment to service excellence through continuous quality improvement is a focus that CCNY shares with Social Current and all its network organizations,” said Heidi Milch, Executive Director of CCNY. “When it comes to data-driven quality improvement this group is past the question of should we, and on to the question of how will we, which makes the Platinum Partnership the perfect avenue for CCNY to support network organizations with the tools that create capacity for lasting success.”

Social Current offers Platinum, Gold, and Silver Strategic Industry Partnerships that can help organizations foster and nurture connections and relationships across the social sector with a goal of enhancing our collective success and nationwide impact. Through Social Current’s partnership program, partners reach our network through annual meetings, networking events, discussion forums, learning series, thought leadership development opportunities, and more. For more information on Strategic Industry Partner opportunities, please contact Marisa Collins, director of strategic partnerships and partner communications.

About CCNY, Inc.
There’s always a human side to analytics, and that’s where CCNY comes in. With consultative services that encompass data collection, evaluation, analytics, predictive modeling, and quality improvement; it’s our job to facilitate data-driven decision making for those who work in health and human services. CCNY takes a utilization focused approach that ensures the work we do actually gets used.

On Jan. 31, the House of Representatives passed (357 to 70) a significant $78 billion bill which expands the child tax credit and reinstates certain business tax breaks. Republican Rep. Jason Smith, the main sponsor in the House, praised the bill as beneficial for growth and employment. It enlarges the child tax credit, though at a reduced level compared to the pandemic period, and revives business tax breaks until 2025. Additionally, it enhances tax benefits for low-income housing and disaster victims. The package of tax breaks is paid for by curbing the pandemic-era employee retention tax credit. Lawmakers see the bill as a positive bipartisan achievement amidst a divisive political climate.

Despite overwhelming approval in the House, the bill faces challenges in the Senate. The main proponent, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), has argued its benefit to families and businesses, and pointed to the bipartisan nature of the bill’s passage in the House. Senate Republicans, however, have reservations, particularly regarding the impact of the expanded child tax credit on parents’ work incentives. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) highlighted a provision that permits parents to collect the larger credit by claiming earnings from previous years, thereby discouraging work, in his eyes. Despite these challenges, the bill is supported by President Biden as well as many senators and could gain momentum in the coming weeks.

HHS Highlights Progress After Two Years of Overdose Prevention Strategy

On Feb. 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) marked the second anniversary of its Overdose Prevention Strategy. From 2019-2021, the United States witnessed alarming increases in overdose death rates. Recent efforts, however, have successfully stabilized this trend. According to the administration, over the last three years the rate of increase in overdose deaths has plummeted by over 90%, with a consistent decline observed almost every month.

The administration argues that significant investments in overdose prevention programs have contributed to these positive outcomes. Key initiatives encompass primary prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services. Such efforts include SAMHSA’s Youth Fentanyl Awareness Prize Challenge, which elicited advice from youth aged 14-18 on best practices for educating young people; the Building Communities of Recovery program, which brings together community resources to support long-term recovery; and telescribing, which has made it easier to access treatment.

Other highlights include naloxone sales, which have surged notably in the past year, signaling wider availability of this life-saving medication. Concurrently, there has been a significant rise in the number of individuals receiving buprenorphine treatment, indicating enhanced access to evidence-based care.

Despite progress, challenges persist as provisional data indicate a persistently high number of overdose deaths. HHS unveiled bold new steps, which include new opioid use disorder treatment rules, aiming to make flexibilities introduced during the pandemic permanent, aligning standards of care with evidence-based practices, and broadening access to interim care with methadone.

Border Bill Introduced and Then Falters in the Senate

Last week, the Senate faced difficulty advancing legislation for aid to U.S. allies after rejecting a bipartisan plan to boost border security. Four months of negotiations, initiated by Republicans wary of increasing aid to Ukraine without linking it to stricter border controls, ended in the plan’s failure, after House Republicans and former President Donald Trump expressed opposition to the proposal. Like many immigration and border proposals in the past, the way forward is uncertain with Congress divided over border security measures in an election year.

In its current form, the proposal would introduce new emergency measures that greatly limit access across the border, triggered when crossings exceed an average of 5,000 a day over the course of a week or 8,500 in one day. Under these measures, asylum seekers would have to apply at designated ports of entry, scheduling appointments via a government app. Asylum officers from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, previously U.S. immigration judges, would decide on asylum cases at the border. Successful applicants would need to demonstrate they could not relocate within their country to avoid persecution. Asylum seekers who pass initial screenings would immediately qualify for work permits, while others could appeal to an asylum review board. The proposal also would expand the use of Alternatives to Detention for migrants awaiting asylum case decisions, such as ankle monitors and cell phones for check-ins with authorities.

HUD Releases New Factsheet on Agency Support for Black People

In a newly released factsheet, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), under the leadership of Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, outlined several initiatives undertaken to support Black communities in homeownership, economic empowerment, and housing stability. Notably, HUD broke down systemic barriers to homeownership, facilitating approximately 250,000 Black Americans in purchasing homes with an FHA mortgage since 2021. Additionally, foreclosure prevention measures implemented during the pandemic helped 160,000 Black homeowners retain their homes amidst financial challenges. HUD expanded access to housing counseling, invested in Black-owned, small, disadvantaged businesses, and awarded over $10 million to historically Black colleges and universities for wealth building and housing research.

Efforts to combat racial discrimination in housing continue with HUD working to eliminate bias in appraisals and promote fair housing practices. Furthermore, HUD expanded rental assistance programs, including emergency housing vouchers targeting homelessness, with a significant portion benefiting Black households. Finally, the Secretary oversaw efforts to review HUD regulations, policies, and guidance that discriminate against people with past criminal records. These initiatives demonstrate HUD’s commitment to advancing equity, homeownership, and housing stability for Black communities under Secretary Fudge’s leadership.

Subscribe to the Policy and Advocacy Radar to receive our biweekly policy roundup, which includes commentary on issues in Social Current’s federal policy agenda, opportunities to take action, and curated news and opportunities.

Organizations will be most effective in advancing their equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) journey when they build an organizational culture that deeply embeds these precepts at multiple levels. That’s why Social Current focuses on solutions for organizational change and excellence and uses a person–organization–system approach to advancing equity, opportunity, and impact.

Black History Month offers an opportunity to share some of our staff’s recent favorite resources for organizational change and leadership that can improve, not inhibit, the potential of BIPOC staff at community-based organizations. See the resource list below with information and data; guidance, tools, and templates; and topic collections with more resources exclusively for Impact Partners in the Social Current network.

Check out additional Social Current opportunities that help community-based organizations commit to authentic and sustainable EDI work that helps all people to thrive, too:


Information and Data

Where Employees Think Companies’ EDI Efforts Are Failing (Harvard Business Review) Two recent surveys from Gallup reveal stark differences in how well employees and HR leaders say their organizations are doing when it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Race to Lead Revisited: Obstacles and Opportunities in Addressing the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap (Building Movement Project) New insights to the groundbreaking survey and report that presented findings from a 2019 survey of more than 5,000 nonprofit staff on their experiences of race and leadership.

The Psychological Safety of Black Employees (WorkingWell Daily) How organizations can create safer workplaces for Black employees.

The Currency of Human Resources Is Trust (Stanford Social Innovation Review) HR management, if not done through an explicit lens of racial and gender justice, perpetuates structural biases. That said, HR professionals are in an optimal position, through formal and informal roles and practices, to begin to dismantle systemic racial and gender barriers.

Guidance, Tools, and Templates

Harvard Implicit Association Test (Project Implicit) This test looks at the connections between concepts to determine a person’s unconscious biases. The results are often surprising, but our hidden biases are powerful.

Race Equity Cycle Pulse Check (Equity in the Center) Learn how an organization rates on transforming organizational culture, practice, and process to narrow (and eventually eliminate) race-based disparities in measurable outcomes (composition, compensation, promotion, retention, staff engagement, staff performance, etc.).

Black History Month at Work – Important or Tokenistic? (EW Group) How the best organizations engage with Black History Month, the challenges from BHM, and suggested activities during BHM.

Five Questions for Every Organization During Black History Month (Forbes Equity Quotient) Questions that every organization should ask itself to be more inclusive of the Black community in their year-round operations.

Empowering Black Women In The Workplace (Forbes) Part of uplifting Black women is acknowledging harmful tropes and actively working to see them as individuals, not walking stereotypes.

Leadership Development Programs Need an Upgrade: Five Ways to Advance Racial Equity (The Center for Effective Philanthropy) Promoting, retaining, and supporting BIPOC leadership within nonprofits is critical for driving systemic change. Funders can consider how they might tailor and incorporate these into their own approaches to supporting leadership.

Impact Partner Exclusive

Organizations that are Social Current Impact Partners have access to these library resource collections in the Knowledge and Insights Center. To access these collections, log in to the Hub or create an account. Learn more about Impact Partnerships online.

Commitment to Advancing Equity Collection: This collection helps community-based organizations tackle issues that cause and sustain inequity and authentically and collaboratively reduce the social, economic, political, and cultural exclusion of underrepresented and marginalized communities.

Health and Mental Well-Being: This collection focuses on the health and mental well-being of children, youth, and adults—including the optimization of formal and informal supports, asset-building, and resilience at the individual and community levels—and what systemic change is necessary to ensure all people can achieve their full potential.

Social Current is seeking competitive submissions for its 2024 Innovative Impact Award. Too often great ideas are kept in-house without recognizing their potential to create change beyond the communities where they were born. Social Current’s Innovative Impact Award identifies, documents, and celebrates examples of successful approaches to management and service delivery practices adopted by our network organizations.

The Innovative Impact Award will spotlight the efforts of Social Current network organizations—their staff, board, volunteers, and partners—who innovate for good to create lasting change with families and communities.

We invite you to share your successful strategies and serve as a resource for community-based organizations, leaders, researchers, and advocates across the full spectrum of human and social services.

Submissions should be focused within one of the following impact areas:

  • Brain Science and Trauma Informed Approaches
  • Child, Family, and Community Well-Being
  • COA Accreditation
  • EDI, Belonging, and Justice
  • Government Affairs and Advocacy
  • Leadership and Organizational Development

Applications should be submitted online by March 25. Submissions must include a synopsis of your innovative practice and a case study narrative that addresses the evaluation criteria. View the Innovative Impact Award program details, including submission guidelines, evaluation criteria, and eligibility.

Winner Benefits

The 2024 Innovative Impact Award winner will receive national visibility and promotion from both Social Current and participating national associations. The winner will also receive the following benefits:

  • Showcase on Social Current’s website, newsletter, and social media platforms
  • A virtual interview promoting your strategy
  • Special award promotion toolkit including image assets, quotes, and sample language to develop your communications and use on your website
  • Award plaque
  • An opportunity to present a 90-minute workshop Social Current’s SPARK 2024 conference in Denver, Oct. 21-22
  • Guest article on Social Current’s website
  • Social Current swag bags for your team (up to 10 people)

View full award details and apply online by March 25. Contact Social Current with questions.

The bipartisan Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act, co-led by House Committee on Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), received overwhelming support (40-3) in a Republican-led committee vote, advancing it to a full House vote.

The plan includes temporary expansions of the child tax credit and revived tax breaks for businesses. The bill proposes increasing the child tax credit incrementally from the current $1,600 to $1,800 in 2023, $1,900 in 2024, and $2,000 in 2025, as well as boosting tax credits for low-income housing construction. The proposal, if enacted, could lift 400,000 children out of poverty in the first year and reduce poverty for an additional 3 million. By 2025, it is expected to move around half a million children out of poverty and reduce poverty for about 5 million other children.

To fund the deal, a COVID-19 tax break for businesses that retained employees during the pandemic would be terminated, saving an estimated $79 billion. Despite strong support for the legislation in committee, during the markup concerns were raised the child tax credit expansion still may not adequately meet the needs of low-income families. There is also resistance from some House members who demand full restoration of state and local tax deductions. The House is set to return on Jan. 29. The bill has yet to make it out of committee in the Senate. Nevertheless, there is optimism that Congress may pass the tax measure before the April 15 tax-filing deadline, providing families with the expanded credit for the 2023 tax year.

Federal Budget Deadline Extended

On Jan. 19, President Joe Biden signed a stopgap spending measure to keep federal departments and agencies open into March, averting a partial shutdown that was set to begin on Jan. 20.

With negotiations on budget allocations dragging on for weeks, however, lawmakers are already growing concerned about the impending funding deadlines in March. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), the Appropriations Committee chairs, have yet to reach an agreement on top-level defense and nondefense spending figures for the 12 appropriations bills. Senate Appropriations Vice Chair Susan Collins (R-Me.) expressed worry about the ability to fund the government by the March 1 and March 8 deadlines. While Murray blamed the House for the delay, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) criticized Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for not bringing more appropriations bills up for vote.

Simultaneously, negotiators are on the brink of finalizing a border and immigration deal tied to aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Senate GOP leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), aim to pass a comprehensive bill despite presidential candidate Donald Trump’s public opposition to the deal. The latest discussions involve a new authority to suspend asylum in some ports of entry when daily migrant crossings exceed a certain threshold, as well as expedited decisions on asylum cases and limited use of parole. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and negotiators are working around the clock to finalize the deal. While challenges in crafting legislative language persist, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) noted there is a 90-plus percent agreement on the text. If the bill passes, it will be the first major immigration bill to pass since the 1990s.

Historic Enrollment Numbers for ACA Marketplace

The Biden-Harris Administration announced 21.3 million people selected health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Health Insurance Marketplace during the 2024 open enrollment period. This figure includes over five million new enrollees and 16 million coverage renewals. The enrollment period is ongoing in four states and Washington, D.C. until Jan. 31.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the American Rescue Plan contributed to the affordability of Marketplace coverage. Due to the IRA, four out of five customers found 2024 plan coverage for $10 per month or less after subsidies.

The administration also allocated almost $100 million in Navigator Awards to organizations, supporting the hiring of staff trained to assist consumers in finding affordable and comprehensive health coverage. This initiative expanded access to affordable coverage for middle- and lower-income families, illustrated by a 4.2 million increase in enrollment from the previous year for individuals with a household income less than 250% of the federal poverty level. Marketplace coverage played a critical role for those transitioning from Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), with 2.4 million plan selections made by individuals who were previously enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP coverage.

HHS Releases New Guidelines for Foster Youth to Independence Program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in collaboration with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has issued new guidelines to assist Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) grant recipients in implementing the Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) program. This program provides rental assistance and support services for young adults aged 18 to 24 who are transitioning out of foster care, facing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness. The guidance emphasizes the significance of housing stability for achieving self-sufficiency, especially during the critical transition to adulthood.

To access the FYI program, public child welfare agencies must refer eligible young adults to a local public housing authority. The guidance encourages RHY grant recipients to strengthen partnerships with child welfare agencies, and thereby gain information about the FYI program, facilitating connections with eligible young adults who may not be utilizing available resources. This collaboration is seen as crucial in addressing the unique needs of young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Approximately 20,000 youth exit foster care each year, typically between ages 18 and 21. These individuals often encounter challenges in securing housing, leading to rates of homelessness higher than the general population. The guidance aims to equip communities with essential knowledge and tools to prevent and end youth homelessness.

Subscribe to the Policy and Advocacy Radar to receive our biweekly policy roundup, which includes commentary on issues in Social Current’s federal policy agenda, opportunities to take action, and curated news and opportunities.

Washington, D.C. – Social Current is pleased to announce the appointment of three new members to its board of directors. Coming from renowned social sector organizations, the new board members bring years of experience and leadership to help address the challenges and mission of the social sector. The new directors are Christa A. Hamilton, president & CEO of UCAN; Lenora Hardy-Foster, president and CEO of Judson Center; and Amy Sample Ward, CEO of NTEN.

“With a shared commitment to advancing equity and diversity and to improving the well-being of all people, we are so pleased to welcome these new directors to the Social Current Board,” commented Jody Levison-Johnson, president and CEO of Social Current. “Their diverse talent and expertise will enhance the strength and impact of our board and our ability to achieve our mission as we work to ignite change for an equitable society where all people can thrive.”

As president and CEO of UCAN, a 154-year-old, Chicago-based youth services organization that annually provides a continuum of services for children, youth, and families, Christa A. Hamilton has years of experience advocating for and creating opportunities that change lives. Christa is the first African American and first woman to lead UCAN, which was founded as a Civil War orphanage. Previously, she served as CEO of Centers for New Horizons on Chicago’s South Side. A native Chicagoan born in Englewood, she sits on the boards of Instituto del Progreso Latino, ScaleLIT, Thresholds Health, South Side Healthy Communities Organization, and the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition. She is a fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and Civic Federation. A 1999 graduate of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Hamilton is a first-generation college graduate who earned a master’s in business administration from National Louis University and a bachelor’s in business administration from Florida A&M University. 

According to Christa, “As a nonprofit CEO, engaged member of the Chicago youth services community, and as a parent, I’m proud and humbled to join the Social Current board of directors and its team of dedicated professionals. UCAN is connected throughout Chicagoland as we build strong youth and families through compassionate healing, education, and empowerment. Our commitment in that space greatly aligns with Social Current’s national mission to advocate for equitable solutions to the tough, sometimes seemingly intractable, societal challenges. I’m eagerly looking forward to becoming an active part of Social Current’s impactful and respected advocacy efforts to achieve an equitable society where youth and families can unlock the power of their potential.”

Lenora Hardy-Foster, MBA, is president and CEO of Judson Center which, for 100 years has been making a positive impact in the lives of over 13,000 children, adults, and families each year by providing a variety of services in 29 Michigan counties. As CEO, she guides the strategic direction of Judson Center and its three wholly owned subsidiaries by creating new partnerships and working diligently with the Board of Trustees and Executive Leadership Team. Lenora’s commitment to the community is reflected through a variety of leadership roles that include serving as chair of the board of the University of Detroit Mercy College of Business Administration, the Michigan Federation for Children and Families, and Incompass Michigan. She is treasurer of the Hannan Center Board of Trustees and sits on the JARC Board of Directors. She is a graduate of Leadership Detroit XXIII, a program of the Detroit Regional Chamber, and successfully completed the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management course through Harvard Business School. Most recently, Lenora was named as one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ 2022 Notable Women in Nonprofits and 2023 Notable Leaders in Behavioral Health. She holds an undergraduate degree in business and a master’s in business administration from the University of Detroit Mercy.

“It is an honor to join the Social Current Board of Directors because of its strong commitment to helping others thrive,” said Lenora. “Every day at Judson Center, we focus on improving the health and well-being of children, adults, and families so they can reach their true potential.  Social Current brings together like-minded individuals and organizations to form a powerful network with a shared vision of bringing change and creating solutions that lead to an equitable society where all people can prosper.”

As CEO of NTEN, a nonprofit creating a world where missions and movements are more successful through the skillful and equitable use of technology, Amy Sample Ward believes that technology should be accessible and accountable to everyone, especially communities historically and systemically excluded from the digital world. They are a sought-after speaker globally, an author of three books, and a regular contributor to sector-wide podcasts and publications. Amy’s second book, Social Change Anytime Everywhere, was a Terry McAdam Book Award finalist. Their latest book, The Tech That Comes Next, co-authored with Afua Bruce, addresses the opportunities for change makers, technologists, philanthropists, and policymakers to build an equitable world with technology. They are based in Portland, Oregon, and graduated summa cum laude from Valparaiso University with a bachelor’s in English and new media journalism.

On joining the Social Current board, Amy noted, “I believe strongly in the value of pursuing change simultaneously for immediate needs and supports, as well as in the systems that create needs and require supports. Building an equitable world requires that we understand and address both, informing our systems change work with the perspectives of those impacted. I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue this dual pursuit through contributions to the Social Current board.”

The three new directors are joining a Social Current board that is comprised of the following officers and directors:

  • Officers:
    • Board Chair: Annette Rodriguez, CEO & principal, Around the Corner Consulting. She also serves as executive committee chair.
    • Vice-Chair: Tracy Wareing Evans, human services consultant. She is newly appointed as vice-chair and serves as nominating and governance committee chair.
    • Treasurer: Reuben Rotman, president and CEO, Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies. He also serves as finance committee chair.
    • Secretary: Adria Johnson, president and CEO, Metro United Way
  • Directors:
    • Bob Bailey, CEO and founder, Truth Collective
    • Ralph Bayard, senior director, Systems Improvement & Strategic Consultation, Casey Family Programs
    • Alexandra L. Cawthorne-Gaines, executive director, Global Public Policy, JP Morgan Chase Policy Center. She is also newly appointed as EDI committee chair.
    • Richard J. Cohen, PhD, president, Public Health Fund
    • Melissa Devlin, assistant director, National Technical Assistance Center on Grandfamilies and Kinship Families
    • Sam Jackson, managing director, Lincoln International, LLC

The Advocacy Amplified Training and Hill Day is a comprehensive and interactive three-day event in Washington, D.C., designed to empower individuals in the social sector with fundamental and advanced advocacy skills. Held at Social Current Headquarters and Capitol Hill, the event will focus on transforming expertise into impactful strategies, fostering relationships, and mobilizing support around the Streamlining Federal Grants Act and other policy topics important to the sector.

The event will begin with a two-day training to equip attendees with the information and skills to effectively participate in Hill Day. On day three, attendees will gain real-world experience through Capitol Hill visits. They will meet with legislators and staff to advocate for critical issues and deliver persuasive messages based on the training received the previous days. Social Current facilitators and guest speakers will drive engagement throughout the event. Learn more.

Proposal for Strengthened Child Tax Credit Goes Public

On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Republican Representative Jason Smith (R-MO) released an $80 billion proposal – up from prior reports of a $70 billion proposal – to expand the child and low-income housing tax credits and restore recently expired business tax breaks and deductions. It would also tie the child tax credit to inflation moving forward. According to Wyden, the child tax credit changes would benefit the families of 15 million children and lift 400,000 children out of poverty by increasing the refundable portion of the credit on a per child basis. The proposal would also pave the way for the construction of 200,000 new affordable housing units across the country. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and President Joe Biden have not commented on the deal, and it seems like there isn’t yet a consensus at the committee level on bringing the bill to the floor in either chamber of Congress. Notably, progressives are pushing to increase the current child tax credit maximum from $2,000 to $3,600. The bill’s sponsors aim to pass the proposal before the Jan. 29 tax-filing season, possibly linking it to a must-pass funding bill to avoid a government shutdown on Jan. 19.

New Bill Introduced to Address Isolation and Loneliness Among Older Adults

On Dec. 7, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Chris Murphy (D-C.T.) introduced the Addressing Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults (SILO) Act to combat the crisis of social isolation among older Americans and adults with disabilities, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed legislation aims to enhance social connections and diminish loneliness by allocating funding to Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and community-based organizations. The bill responds to the profound mental and physical health impacts of social isolation, emphasizing that isolation and loneliness have long been significant issues for older Americans and people with disabilities. The SILO Act establishes a new grant program, allocating $62.5 million annually, dedicated to supporting AAAs and community-based organizations.

These funds will be utilized for training programs, outreach to at-risk individuals, creating community-based solutions, connecting at-risk individuals with support structures, and program evaluation. As of 2019, 25% of the 54 million adults aged 65 and older in the U.S. experienced social isolation. The legislation addresses the serious public health risks associated with social isolation, contributing to poor health outcomes and significant excess Medicare spending, estimated at $6.7 billion annually. The SILO Act aims to ensure older adults and individuals with disabilities can age without experiencing isolation and loneliness in their later years.

HUD Allocates $10 Million to Assist Vulnerable Families and Youth from Foster Care Facing Homelessness

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated $10 million to 13 public housing authorities across the nation. This funding, under the Family Unification Program (FUP), will provide more than 600 vouchers to identify and support homeless or at-risk former foster care youth as well as families whose inadequate housing is the primary reason their children are in foster care. The initiative aims to improve access to supportive services by enhancing coordination among public housing authorities, child welfare agencies, and Continuums of Care. “Keeping youth and families off the streets is essential to our efforts to reduce and ultimately end homelessness,” HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said. “This funding will help our local partners aid youth and allow families to get into more permanent and stable housing. HUD is committed to ending homelessness, and this funding and partnership help us continue that critical part of our mission.”

Administered by public housing authorities in collaboration with public child welfare agencies, the FUP provides housing choice vouchers to families where inadequate housing is a key factor in child placement and youth aged 18-24 at risk of homelessness after exiting foster care. FUP vouchers for families have no time limit, while those for youth are limited to 36 months, with possible extensions under the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities amendments. In addition to rental assistance, FUP youths receive supportive services for 36 months, focusing on skills like money management, job preparation, educational counseling, and nutrition.

HHS Releases New Healthcare Enrollment Report and Online Resource Hub

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unveiled a detailed state-by-state examination of the efficacy of enrollment strategies implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The examination follows the resumption of full eligibility renewals post-COVID-19 to safeguard Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment, particularly for children. According to the data, more than 88 million people, including nearly 40 million children, were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP across all 50 states and the District of Columbia as of Sept. 2023. Notably, states that expanded Medicaid and prioritized autorenewal (ex parte) rates experienced fewer disenrollments of children and youth. Conversely, the ten states that did not expand Medicaid—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming—have collectively disenrolled more children and youth than the 40 states that did. This analysis underscores the pivotal role of state policy decisions and operational choices in preserving Medicaid and CHIP coverage for eligible individuals.

 HHS has also introduced an online hub designed to facilitate the renewal and transition processes for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries. This initiative consolidates crucial resources, primarily developed by CMS, to aid partners in outreach and engagement endeavors. The hub aims to ensure that individuals with Medicaid or CHIP coverage are well-informed about the renewal process, facilitating seamless transitions to alternative coverage options like employer-based plans or Affordable Care Act Marketplace plans. HHS encourages partners, including community-based organizations, to leverage the new resource hub to guarantee appropriate coverage for children and families. The user-friendly webpage offers diverse communication materials and toolkits in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. It also addresses potential scams and fraud related to Medicaid renewals, providing valuable information for partner-led community education.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 15, 2024, is an annual observance to honor the life and legacy of the prominent civil rights leader. There are a variety of ways to recognize the holiday, including personal reflection, education, service projects, and advocacy.

“At Social Current, we say that equity is a journey, which always reminds me of the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, ‘If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward,’” says Romero Davis, director of practice excellence at Social Current. “It’s a reminder of the principles of equity, justice, and the ongoing pursuit of a better, more inclusive society that Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for throughout his life.”

The King Center has given this year the theme, It Starts with Me: Shifting the Cultural Climate through the Study and Practice of Kingiang Nonviolence. According to the center, nonviolence is a love-centered way of thinking, speaking, acting, and engaging that leads to personal, cultural, and societal transformation. For nonviolent social change, it recommends six steps: Information Gathering, Education, Personal Commitment, Negotiation, Direct Action, and Reconciliation. It describes Reconciliation as, “Through reasoned compromise, both sides resolve the injustice with a plan of action. Each act of reconciliation is one step close to the ‘Beloved Community.’”

Social Current is offering a new healing-centered virtual learning series, starting March 19, that will delve into the intersection of brain science and equity. By understanding the brain science related to bias and racism, we can be better prepared to have increased self-awareness, engage productively in difficult conversations, and create environments that support belonging for all people.

“Our framework for advancing equity prioritizes healing at three levels—individual, organization, and system. Racism harms all of us and requires us to work from the inside-out,” says Kelly Martin, director of practice excellence at Social Current. By focusing first on individual healing and growth, we are supporting others in their ability to engage in productive, sustainable antiracism efforts within their organizations, as well as within their communities and systems.”

Social Current also will be recognizing the National Day of Racial Healing by encouraging our network organizations to participate, and by focusing our monthly antiracist employee resource group discussion on the topic of racial healing. The National Day of Racial Healing, created by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and celebrated the Tuesday following Martin Luther King Jr. Day, provides an opportunity for individuals, communities, and organizations to join together in acknowledging the values we share as people, build trust in one other, develop authentic relationships and inspire collective action to heal from the effects of racism.

At Social Current, we have seen the power of using equity, diversity, and inclusion to engage an organization’s full strength and range of views, experiences, and abilities. Undraye Howard, vice president at Social Current, recently discussed this in an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, What Strong Organizations Know about DEI.

We believe in embedding equity in organizations to encourage healthy dialogue, sense of belonging, and adaptive leadership skills. “Organizations who grasp (the benefits of advancing equity) will ultimately show impact in their bottom line, organizational goals, and mission,” says Undraye in the article. “The equity journey is for the long haul but taking that first step should be the priority for all organizations who seek to uphold the values upon which our nation was founded.”

Learn more about Social Current’s work to support organizations through consulting and learning.