Survey guides Fresno EOC’s county-wide fight against poverty

The Community Needs Assessment is open to Fresno County residents through April 5 to guide programs provided by Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission

Hands, clipboard or survey and a business woman writing on a questionnaire with her financial advisor in an office. Documents, contract and agreement with a female employee signing official paperwork.
Serena Bettis
Published March 27, 2024  • 
1:00 pm

FRESNO COUNTY – Residents across Fresno County have the opportunity to shape services provided by the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission (EOC) through the 2024-25 Community Needs Assessment. 

The assessment inquires after child care, employment and other neighborhood assistance needs in order to evaluate how Fresno EOC can better serve the community. Responses gathered are confidential, and the survey, which is available in multiple languages, takes about 10 minutes to complete, according to the Fresno EOC website.

Through the Community Needs Assessment, Fresno EOC is in part looking to “assess the needs and assets within the whole community, analyze the underlying causes of poverty, determine if agency programs match community needs and develop community consensus on a policy agenda,” Fresno EOC spokesperson Amanda Venegas said.

After the survey closes on April 5, Fresno EOC will analyze the responses and incorporate the feedback into the assessment alongside information gathered from community forums held throughout March. The assessment results will then help inform the 2025 Community Action Plan, which is the middle step in the EOC’s three-year strategic planning cycle. 

Fresno EOC is a nonprofit organization, independent from the local government, that runs more than 30 programs aimed at reducing poverty. Founded in 1965, it is one of the nation’s largest Community Action Agencies established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.

Current programming from Fresno EOC includes shelters and housing service access points for those experiencing homelessness, low-income energy assistance, young adult workforce connection opportunities, health services, food distribution and more. 

Results from the assessment will be released in August and will guide Fresno EOC programming, including specifics such as when and where the organization will set up a program, not just what kinds of programs people need. 

The assessment asks detailed questions about certain topics, such as child care, to really dig into what kinds of child care needs people have that are not being met through other programs. 

For example, the survey asks about child care challenges, such as cost and transportation, and how often and how much child care is needed. This specificity allows Fresno EOC to pinpoint gaps in needs, such as communities where daytime child care may be available, but child care for those who work nights or weekends is not.

The organization primarily receives funding for its programs through grants, including the federal Community Services Block Grant. Fresno EOC conducts the Community Needs Assessment every three years as part of the requirements to receive that funding and continue former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.

“As a community action agency, Fresno EOC is required to collect quantitative and qualitative data from the population in our geographic service area,” Venegas said. “The questions were designed to collect data from areas determined by the agency’s strategic focus areas.” 

Venegas said that questions were developed through a “collaborative process” involving local organizations and governments, community members and experts in the field. 

Feedback gathered through past assessments helped launch the Rural Food Express Bus and Summer Meals for Kids programs, Venegas said. 

Other feedback resulted in Fresno EOC’s new Advancing Guaranteed Income program, which provides a $500 stipend to eligible families who live in the 93706 and 93234 ZIP codes. The chosen areas are based on Fresno County poverty data and target the highest-poverty locations in urban and rural areas of the county.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter