WOCAP History

West Ohio CAP was founded as a non-profit private organization in 1993 to serve our community in meeting the needs of both young and old low-income families in Allen County, Ohio. After nearly three years of effort by the United Way of Greater Lima, the Black Ministerial Alliance, the City of Lima’s Mayor, and the Allen County Commissioners, West Ohio CAP was designated on February 1, 1994 as the Community Action Agency for Allen County.

Upon opening, West Ohio CAP operated two emergency assistance programs, the local Federal Emergency Management Assistance and the Home Energy Assistance Program, with four employees and a budget of $345,000. On September 12, 1994, a Micro Enterprise Coordinator was hired and the Allen/Lima Enterprise Assistance Program became the first program created by the new Community Action Agency. In 1995, the Federal Head Start program was secured. With the inception of this program, Head Start became the agency’s biggest funded program by serving 571 children in Allen County. West Ohio CAP continued its focus on low-income early childhood development by successfully adding 80 children in the Early Head Start Program with child care partners in 2015.

Twenty three years later, with an operating budget that has grown to $11 million dollars and a staff of 160 employees, West Ohio CAP now offers fourteen programs in three counties, Allen, Auglaize, and Mercer. West Ohio CAP’s programs are continually evolving and changing as part of a continuing effort to meet the ever growing needs of our community and our neighbors. Over the years, West Ohio CAP has well realized that as our community and the economic environment in which we live change – our plans, goals, and services must change as well. Therefore, West Ohio CAP is “On the Move”. West Ohio CAP facility locations include, Celina, Harrod, Perry Township, Spencerville, and Lima and Wapakoneta. The Lima location at 540 Central Avenue is our headquarters and is centrally located in Lima and is accessible by public transportation or pedestrians.

With pride in service and a commitment to excellence, West Ohio CAP provides opportunities for people to reach their highest potential by providing stepping stones to success. We open paths to self-sufficiency and empowerment for individuals and families to enhance our community.

West Ohio CAP programming has grown to include: COLT Transportation, Home Energy Assistance (HEAP), Emergency Assistance, Homeownership/Down Payment Assistance, Fair Housing, Community Technology Center, Head Start and other early childhood programs, Nurturing Fathers, Rx/AIM Prescription Assistance, Financial Literacy, Homeless Prevention Services (HCRP), Steps to Success employment services, youth employment, and Kindergarten Kamp.

West Ohio CAP has been involved with establishing and nurturing many initiatives that have grown to become other successful non-profit programs in the community, such as the federally qualified health clinic, now the Dr. Gene Wright Health Center; family violence prevention which is now Partnership for Violence Free Families; and minority health.

West Ohio CAP has a proven twenty-three year track record of ethics in operations and fiscal accountability by continually achieving “clean” audit opinions during our annual agency wide single audits. In 2014, the Chamber of Commerce named West Ohio CAP “Non-Profit Business of the Year”. In 2016, West Ohio CAP was awarded the Exemplary Program award from the John Glenn Institute for our newest program, Steps to Success, a comprehensive self-sufficiency program for low income adults. We have also been awarded seven Best Practice Awards from The Ohio State University’s John Glenn Institute for Public Policy and Public Service. This award is presented to non-profit agencies for innovative efforts to help low income people make life-changing differences and lead them on the path to self- sufficiency.

We are known throughout the community as an organization of integrity that is a leader in collaboration, partnering and advocating for low-income families. A hallmark of our organization is our ability to collaborate with a wide variety of community agencies. We have partnerships with more than 100 agencies in our region to meet the goals of helping people reach their full potential.

West Ohio CAP currently serves 13,000 individuals per year through its many programs and services in three counties. Quality of services is paramount to our continued success.

Collaborations with West Ohio CAP

West Ohio CAP has many partnerships with local community and government organizations. West Ohio CAP understands that to achieve results, we cannot do it alone. A few examples of our partnerships are given here.

West Ohio CAP partners with the United Way of Greater Lima, Family and Children First Council, the Chamber of Commerce and the Lima City Schools to provide a unique five-week transition program (head start preschool curriculum into kindergarten) for at-risk children. The goal of the partnership was to identify children who did not have a preschool experience, and prepare children for kindergarten, educate teachers about early learning institutions, and develop relationships between Kindergarten Teachers and Head Start Teachers. The program is a huge success – increasing children’s kindergarten testing scores from 14 points to 19 points (the average) and earning West Ohio CAP an award from the John Glenn Institute for Best Practices.

West Ohio CAP partners with six childcare centers in Lima to coordinate early childhood services for working parents. We combine resources, space and funding to ensure high quality services are available and to increase the childcare’s capacity for excellence through curriculum development, staff training, and financial support.

West Ohio CAP partners with 15 organizations in three counties to coordinate homeless prevention services in each county. The Homeless Planning Region 12 develops policy for how services will be provided, monitors quality of services and ensures that families are permanently and stably housed. Our partnership has resulted in the first ever participation in the annual homeless count by both Auglaize and Mercer Counties, bringing awareness to those communities of the need for services.

West Ohio CAP took over a program in Auglaize and Mercer Counties to transport Medicaid and Medicare clients to health care providers. This program serves all ages but many of the riders are elderly or disabled. It is much needed in these counties where no public transportation exists.

West Ohio CAP Adds to the Economy

West Ohio CAP’s fourteen programs provide more than $1.5 million dollars in direct financial benefits to low income residents in three counties. More than $4.8 million dollars in funds are paid out to our employees in the form of salaries and fringe benefits to provide services to low income families.

The Home Ownership Program at West Ohio CAP provides education and down payment assistance to potential homeowners in Allen County. Since its existence, the home ownership program has helped 600+ families become home owners with an economic impact of $34,541,042. The vast majority of these homeowners are able to maintain ownership of their home through time. Ninety three percent of families who have purchased a home through our program still own their own home.

The Home Energy Assistance Program has helped over 5,659 households to keep their electric and/or gas on in the coldest months. The economic value of this assistance to our community is over $1.1 million in direct client benefit payments to the energy providers.

Our Homeless Prevention Program serves three counties, and has helped 400 families, who were homeless or near homeless, to gain stable housing. Most of the work in this area is achieved by helping our client’s access current local resources, find and maintain employment, and budget for a stable future. West Ohio CAP works in partnership with several organizations to coordinate services so that there is no duplication of effort in assisting a family. West Ohio CAP works directly with the four shelters serving homeless populations in the community to achieve this goal. All of this with an average of $2000.00 per family served.

West Ohio CAP’s Board of Trustees is made up of a diverse group of elected officials, private citizens and representatives of low-income populations. We are very proud of the long and active participation of our elected officials. West Ohio CAP offers bi-annual training in board governance to all West Ohio CAP board members as well as formal training opportunities from the Ohio Head Start Association and the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies. These training opportunities give our board members a chance to network with other programs, funding officials and staff to both learn and compare our programs with that of others.

West Ohio CAP receives funding from federal, state and local entities as well as through private donations, corporations, and foundations. Major funding sources include, but are not limited to: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, Ohio Department of Education, Ohio Development Services Agency, Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services, City of Lima, Allen County Department of Job and Family Services, Allen County Commissioners, Mercer County Commissioners, Auglaize County Dept. of Job and Family Services, and Mercer County Dept. of Job and Family Services.

For every one dollar received by West Ohio CAP through Community Service Block Grant funds, West Ohio CAP leverages $18 dollars in financial support for programming from federal, state and local resources.