West Central achieves recognition, announces new initiatives, celebrates 58 years

West Central Missouri Community Action Agency (“West Central”) celebrates 58 years since its incorporation on July 19, 1965.  With a long history of service to its nine-county region, the organization continues to implement new programs that assist and advance families and communities and has been recognized for its commitment to excellence.

 PATHWAYS TO EXCELLENCE: Recently named one of only four community action agencies in the nation to gain “Silver” recognition in the Pathways to Excellence (PTE) program, West Central is currently working toward “Gold” accreditation. PTE is a Malcom Baldridge National Quality Award for excellence in management systems coordinated by the National Community Action Partnership.

 SERVICES:  West Central has long coordinated utility assistance, weatherization and home repairs, emergency housing services, Housing Choice Vouchers rental assistance, employment and training programs, food resources, and a wide array of community services, providing assistance to 10,679 individuals last year.

 MULTI-FAMILY HOUSING: The Agency also manages 12 service-enhanced multi-family housing properties in the region. Later this year West Central looks forward to breaking ground on Grant Park Villas, housing geared to serving working families in Raymore. With 48 units, the facility will be within walking distance to schools, shopping, local services, medical resources, and food. Eight units will be set aside to specifically serve vulnerable populations including veterans, youth aging out of the foster system, homeless individuals including survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking, and the developmentally disabled including those who are physically, emotionally, or mentally impaired.

NEW GROWTH:  Beginning with the addition of New Growth Community Development Corporation in 2017, West Central’s mission and reach has increased dramatically over the past few years. The New Growth Women’s Business Center provides business counseling, credit building and start-up loans in thirteen Missouri counties and two Kansas counties. The New Growth Transit program, currently serving ten counties, provides rides to medical appointments, groceries and related resources, employment activities, and other essential connections. Since implementation in late 2021, the rides program has provided over 5,000 trips to individuals lacking other transportation.

MOBILE ACTION CENTER: New efforts to provide enhanced service on the local level include resources provided through the Mobile Action Center (MAC), an office on wheels that visits each county in the service area on a weekly basis, thus providing better access overall throughout the region. Also this year, West Central began an initiative with local organizations to open the Liston Center, the West Central office in El Dorado Springs, during excessively cold weather as a warming shelter for individuals without heat.

HEARTLAND REGIONAL FOOD BUSINESS SYSTEM: Most recently, West Central Food Systems Director Katie Nixon was named co-director of the 5-state Heartland Regional Food Business System Center, which will provide direct “Business Builder” grants to entrepreneurs and operate an online interactive platform where buyers, sellers, producers, processors and market managers can communicate and collaborate locally.

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ABOUT WEST CENTRAL MISSOURI COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCY: West Central is a member of the National Community Action Partnership and the Community Action Network, which was born out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The Agency has served a nine-county region in west central Missouri since 1965. The organization’s mission, “West Central helps people and communities reach their fullest potential by cultivating and coordinating resources, building partnerships, and advocating for change”, is reflected throughout the Agency’s programs and services. Housing, emergency services, energy conservation, employment and training, transportation, and credit building are provided annually to over 10,500 individuals. In addition to core services, West Central’s community development corporation, New Growth, supports entrepreneurship and small business development through the New Growth Women’s Business Center, and a business acceleration network, “Start Here”. West Central’s primary service region includes the counties of Cass, Bates, Benton, Cedar, Henry, Hickory, Morgan, St. Clair, and Vernon, with program expansions in Barton, Camden, Dade, Dallas, Howell, Jackson, Polk, and Bourbon and Crawford counties in Kansas.