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Program areas in this edition:
Supporting Families
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A newsletter of Napa Valley Community Foundation

June 2013

When the economic recession hit in 2008, we watched as many nonprofits had to make radical shifts in operations as a result of sudden funding decreases.


But, the truth is, change is a constant for nearly all public charities. In fact, it should be.


Like any business, nonprofits must adapt in order to stay relevant, and meet the evolving needs of their clients and the community. The ability to change or adapt is vital, regardless of an agency's size or mission, or upticks and downturns in the economy.


Our experience meeting with Board and executive leadership of nonprofits has shown us that well-managed agencies are able to navigate change. Such organizations share some fundamental traits, including:  

  • An organizational culture of learning. Investing in-at all levels of the org chart-skill development and leadership. The Boys and Girls Club agencies in Napa and St. Helena/Calistoga are good examples of nonprofits that nurture employees so they can grow with the organization.
  • Responsiveness to clients and community. Piloting new programs or altering existing ones, in order to fill gaps or meet emerging needs. One example is Community Action of Napa Valley's Food Bank program, which redesigned its food pantry model so clients have access to more products and are supported to make healthier choices, while at the same time reducing the amount of food that is thrown out.
  • Leadership that is proactive. Planning by Board members and the executive director so the organization can weather significant changes, like leadership transitions or fiscal turbulence. For instance, Napa Emergency Women's Services' Board invested in thoughtful fiscal planning that has yielded a 10-month operating reserve for the organization--an uncommon asset in the nonprofit sector.

This issue of Community Link features a relatively young agency that has some of the above attributes.


If you'd like to support this or any other effort, please complete a donor recommendation form and fax it to us at 254.7955.  Give us a call at 254.9565 if you have any questions. 


If you'd like to read past issues of the newsletter, go to 


Julia DeNatale and Marla Tofle  

Philanthropic Services Staff


ParentsCANSupporting Families

Families of children with disabilities get connected to a network of support


Agency:  Napa Valley Child Advocacy Network, Incorporated (dba ParentsCAN)

Support Needed:  $7,500

Purpose:  Operating expenses


When a parent learns their child has been diagnosed with a developmental disability or mental illness, it can be overwhelming. Oftentimes parents feel they don't know where to begin, or who to turn to for help.


A group of parents of children with special needs started ParentsCAN (PCAN) in 2005 to serve as a resource center for these families, and helped 350 of them in its first year.


Today, PCAN helps more than 900 households annually by connecting parents to services offered at 50 local partner agencies.


PCAN's staff, called advocates, work one-on-one with families to help them: determine their disabled child's eligibility for benefits; and, navigate complex systems like medical care, health insurance and public school special education.


These advocates frequently accompany parents to meetings with doctors or school administrators, which ties in with PCAN's core approach: that parents learn to advocate on behalf of their kids. To that end, PCAN also offers a parent-to-parent peer mentoring program, community symposiums held three times a year, plus a few dozen education classes and support groups. Topics include: Autism; grandparents raising special needs grandchildren; and, special education rights and responsibilities.


PCAN also has responded to clients' needs by piloting new programs. For example, when state funding for early diagnosis was slashed, the nonprofit trained staff to identify and address developmental delays in children birth to age three. An increase in the number of kids in the Valley diagnosed with ADD/ADHD also prompted PCAN to start a class on the topic.


PCAN provides all services free-of-charge (more than half of clients are low-income) and in both English and Spanish (52 percent are Latino). The agency's 20 staff members are well-versed in clients' issues--each has an immediate family member with special needs.


A few years ago, PCAN's Board invested in leadership transition planning, in anticipation of its founder's retirement. Last year, a longtime staffer that had grown into roles of increasing responsibility was named executive director. The new leadership completed a strategic plan now being implemented.


PCAN's annual budget is $955,000; 55 percent comes from government contracts, and the balance is raised through donors, fundraisers and grants.


Your support will help parents continue to advocate for their special needs children.


Napa Valley Child Advocacy Network, Incorporated (dba ParentsCAN)

1909 Jefferson Street

Napa, CA 94559


Contact: Marlena Garcia, Executive Director


Contact the Community Foundation