Southwestern Wisconsin, the region served by the Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP), like other rural areas of Wisconsin and of the Midwest, is experiencing a dramatic shift in its demographic profile. No matter where one looks in terms of census data, community planning and/or economic development, size of school systems, church attendance, etc., the realities of the shift hit home. What one sees is the following:
- The overall population will not grow or will actually decline. The current population for the five counties served by SWCAP (Grant, Green, Iowa, Lafayette and Richland) is 148,090 and is expected to grow to 158,485 by 2030 – or only a 7% increase overall. In some counties, the overall population is expected to drop.
- The population of retirement age is expected to grow from 25,235 in 2015 to 38,820 in 2030, or an increase of 58%. The population is projected to get much older.
- The total school enrollment in CESA 3 for the region dropped from 23,026 in 2001 to 19,554 in 2014, or a 15% drop – with some communities experiencing a more dramatic drop in enrolled children.
- The average age of farmers in 1992 was 50 years of age. In 2012, it was 57 years of age. Recently, in Wisconsin, it was calculated at 63 years of age. As these farmers begin to ratchet down and approach retirement age – or the age where they cannot be as physically active working on the farm – the transition to younger farmers or farm workers will be a crucial issue.
Karl Pnazek, long-time CEO of CAP Services and a state and national leader in the Community Action movement, died peacefully at home with his wife Bonnie at his side, after a courageous battle with brain cancer and the health challenges that too often come with a cancer diagnosis. The loss brings deep sorrow for Bonnie, their son Brandon and his wife April and their children, and their extended families.
Karl’s reach was wide and deep and as such the loss is felt by literally thousands of people who had the privilege to work with him and those whose lives were made better by the resources and opportunities created under his leadership. Others knew him only through his frequent open letters to the local paper but even they came to understand this man’s core was made up of integrity, innovation, insight and initiative. He was often described as the smartest man people ever knew. He mentored many and inspired more. He called out unfairness when he saw it and had high expectations of people. He was tough too and often said what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. He didn’t often back down and that may have been what led to his many successes. Continue Reading
Nationwide Recognition Highlights Importance of Weatherization to Low-Income Households, the Environment, and the Economy
It’s no secret that lower-income households spend a disproportionate percentage of their income on the basics. The lower your income, the greater the burden of paying for housing, food, transportation, and most other necessities of day-to-day living. Energy costs are no exception. Lower-income Wisconsinites may spend as much as 12% of their income on energy, compared to 3% for the average Wisconsin household. Often they are forced to cut back on food, medicine, or other necessities in order to pay their energy bills.
Each year, October 30th is recognized as Weatherization Day to call nationwide attention to the impact of energy costs on low-income households and to highlight the importance of weatherization assistance available to lower-income households through initiatives like the state’s weatherization program, a component of Wisconsin’s Home Energy Plus Program. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), weatherization services are available in each of the 50 states and the District Columbia, as well as through Native American tribes. Continue Reading
At North Central Community Action Program, Inc. (NCCAP) we work with low-income individuals and families who face multiple challenges in their lives. This is not a new concept for our organization or for any Community Action Agency. Low-income people as a whole have many obstacles to overcome. Whether it is limited income, housing and homelessness, health issues, mental health diagnoses, issues caused by victimization or dysfunctional family dynamics low-income people have many issues that impact their lives and make life challenging. These challenges make providing services challenging as well.
At NCCAP our mission is to act as an advocate, provider, and facilitator of programs and services for low-income individuals in Lincoln, Marathon, and Wood Counties (Wisconsin). NCCAP seeks to create opportunities for people and communities to obtain skills, identify, and utilize resources and explore innovative options necessary to reduce poverty and increase self-sufficiency. As far as missions go, we feel that this mission is a good one. Our Board of Directors adopted this mission and it is appropriate for our organization. Our mission meets national performance standards for a mission statement in the Community Action world and provides guidance and direction for the services we provide to our clients. We take pride in our approach to working with low-income people and this has been the case since we first began as an organization in 1966. Continue Reading
CAP Services Inc. was recently awarded $250,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to relend under the SBA’s Microloan program.
CAP Services, which provides business assistance and lending services in Calumet, Marathon, Marquette, Waushara, Portage, Outagamie, Waupaca and Wood counties, was named an SBA micro-lender in 2013, with an initial award of the same amount.
“We’ve loaned out almost all of the initial $250,000, so this new award will allow us to continue offering microloans to small start-ups and expanding business that may face difficulty finding financing from a traditional lender,” said Laura West, CAP’s director of Business Development.
The SBA’s microloan program provides loans up to $50,000 to help small businesses start up and expand. Intermediaries administer the Microloan program for eligible borrowers. CAP was approved as an intermediary lender in 2013 based on its experience in lending as well as management and technical assistance experience. Continue Reading