February 8, 2019

The power of community partnerships

For Renewal Awards winner AnewAmerica, creative collaboration in the Bay Area creates new opportunities.

AnewAmerica participants celebrate the completion of one of the organization’s business training classes. Photo courtesy of AnewAmerica

As one of the winners of the 2018 Renewal Awards, we are pleased to give an update on our work. The support of Allstate and The Atlantic through The Renewal Awards has played an instrumental role in highlighting and supporting the work we do in the Oakland and San Jose communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their ongoing partnership with our organization continues to open opportunities for us and our clients.

The idea of partnership between nonprofits, government, and the private sector is critical in advancing solutions to issues facing our society. From affordable housing to creating economic equity, the partnership of these sectors is our best way to solve many of our current challenges. In the spirit of partnership, we recently were able to provide funds to low income budding entrepreneurs through our 2018 East Bay IDA (Individual Development Account) Program. The program provided matching funds to entrepreneurs for approved business assets if they met their funding goal and business planning requirements. In addition, participants were supported through training and counseling from AnewAmerica.

This program was made possible because of partnerships. Matching funds were provided by Y&H Soda Foundation (a foundation that supports nonprofit work in Alameda and Contra Costa counties) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (via their Assets for Independence program for which we were grandfathered). In addition to having matching funds which is critical, one must also have a bank that will open IDA accounts. In recent years, it has become a challenge for nonprofits to find a participating institution as many no longer offer this service. However, we were fortunate to find a partner in U.S. Bank through their Community Relations in San Francisco which allowed us to establish the IDA accounts.

The power of partnership between all of these entities from various sectors resulted in $52,000 being matched to the savings of individuals who were at 200 percent or below the Federal Poverty level. With the savings of participants, this represented $65,000 in funds to help individuals start a business and work on a path for economic growth and independence. To many businesses, $5,000 may seem like a small amount. But for a micro entrepreneur who is at a challenging income level and trying to start a path for greater economic independence, $5,000 can be the key to opening the door to a new life and the beginning of fulfilling a dream.

At a time when it seems easier to focus on what divides us, it is important to look at how working together to address social and economic challenges can positively impact our communities.

Our entrepreneurs range from those who are starting food ventures and construction businesses to those who are working on businesses that would also address social issues. For example, we have one client whose business goal is to establish housing for the homeless, leveraging the use of containers as apartments and charging affordable rent. Her dream is that one day her business will be able to have a container housing park for the homeless in which social services will also be available. In the Bay Area, where there are also working individuals who are homeless due to housing affordability, our client’s business goal shows the ability to create businesses that address social concerns.

These entrepreneurs would not have had this opportunity without the partnership of the private, public, and nonprofit sector.

Through another partnership with the City of Oakland, we have trained and counseled individuals who are at 100 percent or below the poverty level. This is through the Alameda County Oakland Community Action Partnership (AC-OCAP) for which we are a contracted grantee. This partnership is committed to reducing poverty by providing services to low-income individuals and families. AnewAmerica works on creating economic opportunities by leveraging entrepreneurship with our AC-OCAP clients. Last year we trained 42 participants, had 6 business starts, and were able to provide stipends to some individuals for certifications and/or registrations to start their business. For instance, we have client who is a working individual who is homeless and needed funds to get the license for her cottage food business and for her food safety certification. This came to approximately $600. For $600, she is now able to officially pursue and start her own business and work towards greater economic independence. This is another example of the power of partnership and the impact it can make on individuals and our communities at-large.

At a time when it seems easier to focus on what divides us, it is important to look at how working together to address social and economic challenges can positively impact our communities. By realizing that there is an advantage when the public, private, and non-profit sectors work together, we truly can make a difference and “partner” in creating real positive change across our communities.

Steve Dial


Steve Dial is the CEO of AnewAmerica.