Alliance of Community Assistance Ministries, Inc.
710 North Post Oak Road, Suite 210
Houston, Texas 77024
(713) 640-5192 Main Line
ACAM provides support and services to ministries
and does not provide financial assistance directly
to the general public. Please call 2-1-1 for basic needs and financial assistance.
Our History: ZCAM to ACAM
THE LEGACY OF A SUCCESSFUL PILOT PROJECT
During the 1980’s, many Zip Code Assistance Ministries (ZCAMs) were formed throughout the Houston/Harris County area to address the impact of the collapse of the energy industry that resulted in a severe and sudden local economic downturn and the loss of over 100,000 jobs in the region. At that time, houses of worship were faced with unprecedented requests for food, rent, utility assistance and clothing. Since each congregation could assist in only a small way, the congregations decided to pool their resources and create centralized service centers based on the geographical boundaries of zip codes. Eventually, these service centers grew, became an informal network, and recognized a need for more formal connection and organizational development. ACAM was developed first as a pilot project and then a formal program for participating ministries with the purpose of helping these mission organizations build organizational capacity by providing assistance with organizational assessment, capacity building, networking, mentoring and collaborative projects.
Over the years, ZCAMs have evolved into “community assistance ministries” or “CAMs,” that were no longer necessarily restricted from providing services by zip code and ACAM has evolved into a 501(c)(3) management support organization (MSO) focusing on capacity and sustainability through member services for CAMs that meet certain requirements and operate in the Greater Houston area. Current and prospective members of ACAM are basic needs providers that are faith-based in mission, vision and origin, without requiring a particular expression of faith or participation in religious activity as a basis for receiving services.
ACAM was developed and implemented in 2004 by a collaboration of local funders, partners, and nonprofits as a three-year pilot project called the Zip Code Assistance Ministries Organizational Development Project (ZCAM ODP). The lead organization, Rockwell Fund, Inc. had been conducting extensive research on the issues facing local 501(c)(3) faith-based emergency service providers (or community assistance ministries [CAMs]). Motivated by the opportunity to create positive change for families in need, Rockwell invited others to be a part of this new initiative. Through high-engagement philanthropy, a collaborative of 16 funders (private foundations, the United Way and the Houston Junior League) invested their time, talent and more than $2 million over 3 years to accomplish ACAM’s successful pilot phase. Eight program partners also contributed technical services including training, consulting and evaluation.
By providing assistance with organizational assessment, capacity building, networking, mentoring and collaborative projects, this pilot phase of ACAM helped community assistance ministries accomplish the following results from 2005-2007:
• Funding increased and diversified
• Number of volunteers increased and new partnerships developed
• Personnel and volunteer management programs enhanced
• Board and executive director leadership strengthened
• Technology infrastructure improved, resulting in better data tracking and management
• Long-term strategies developed
Energized by the success of ACAM’s pilot phase, participating funders and ministries explored the feasibility of formalizing this network in 2007, the pilot’s final year. A consultant hired to staff the planning process began conducting one-on-one interviews with nearly twenty stakeholders to uncover areas of consensus, divergence and perceived obstacles. These findings became the basis for the ensuing work sessions that tackled the issues of purpose, mission, structure and potential constituency. The rigor and thoroughness of this process has ensured a firm foundation for ACAM, which was launched as an ongoing program in January 2008. Because not all member organizations were zip code based, the name was changed to Alliance of Community Assistance Ministries of Greater Houston in 2008. ACAM incorporated as the Alliance of Community Assistance Ministries, Inc. and received tax exempt status from the IRS in September 2011. Click here for a copy of ACAM’s IRS determination letter. On average, ACAM’s 13 member organizations serve more than a quarter of a million unduplicated clients with over 3 million units of service annually.
FIND OUT MORE
For more information on how the original pilot project was conducted, please contact Sharon Zachary at (713) 341-5335. For more information on the results of the pilot project, please click here to download the final report.