SNAP E&T

Getting Buy-In from Your SNAP Agency for a SNAP ET Partnership

 

4-Step SNAP E&T Assessment Process 

 Step 1 – Determine SNAP E&T feasibility for your social enterprise

 Step 2 – Conduct online research about SNAP E&T in your state/county

 Step 3 – Estimate SNAP E&T funding

 Step 4 – Get buy-in from your SNAP Agency for a SNAP E&T partnership

 

Overview

After you have completed Steps 1-4 and decided to proceed, we suggest you develop a thoughtful strategy for approaching a SNAP agency to increase your chances of success. If you ask your SNAP agency to partner without being fully prepared, SNAP administrators may say no and be reluctant to change their minds, especially if you go “over their heads” later on. Below are potential strategies to consider.

Note: This step may not be necessary if you already have a strong relationship with your SNAP agency, or if the SNAP agency has a formal application process that you can use.

 

Steps for Background Research

1. Research SNAP E&T partners

Reach out to SNAP E&T partners of the SNAP agency (such as nonprofits and other non-government agencies, community colleges, etc.), if identified in Step 3. Inquire about their experience with SNAP E&T so far, including:

  • positive benefit and challenges
  • process used to obtain approval for SNAP E&T
  • the needs and perspectives of key people in the human services agency. Listen for the names of potential allies in the SNAP agency who are most likely to say yes to your partnership due to their vision and commitment to the success of SNAP recipients, willingness to partner with outside entities, or needs that you might be able to help address
  • suggestions for you to approach the SNAP agency

 

2. Identify Key Staff

If the inquiry above does not yield enough information, look online for the names/contacts of the key SNAP agency staff for SNAP E&T, SNAP, higher level departments/divisions, and top leadership of the human services agency. Then reach out to your colleagues, board members, and staff to inquire about their knowledge of or connections with these key SNAP agency staff, listening again for potential allies.

If the inquiry above does not yield enough information, Google “SNAP Outreach partner” or “SNAP-Ed partner” in your state or county to identify potential nonprofit or government partners of the SNAP agency. Then reach out to them to inquire about their knowledge of key SNAP agency staff, listening again for potential allies.

 

3. Develop Strategy for Approaching Agency

Based on these initial inquiries, identify a potential ally at the SNAP agency and develop a strategy for approaching them. Below are options for an approach, starting with the least intensive and graduating to more complex strategies based on the level of resistance you expect to encounter:

Option A: Approach a key person at the agency directly.

Option B: Ask one of your contacts to make an informal inquiry with a key person in the SNAP agency (ideally, that contact will have a strong relationship with the key person, or be well-respected in the community).

Option C: Approach a government agency that has a peer relationship with the SNAP agency, such as a local Workforce Investment Board (WIB) if you have a county-based SNAP E&T program, or a state Workforce Development Board or Department of Labor. Links to your State Department of Labor may be available here. Recent law requires the state SNAP E&T plan to be developed in consultation with the State Workforce Development Board, unless the State demonstrates that consultation with private employers or employer organizations would be more effective or efficient. Labor agencies can be good allies due to their workforce development goals.  Once you have identified a key contact and obtained buy-in either directly or through one of your contacts, ask him or her to call for a meeting with the key contact at the SNAP agency.

Option D: Approach a policymaker with authority over the human services agency, such as member of a county Board of Supervisors, Office of the Governor, or state Senator.  Once you have identified a key contact and obtained buy-in either directly or through one of your contacts, ask him or her to call for a meeting with the key contact at the SNAP agency. Ask to make your case before any decision is made in off-line discussions between the policymaker and the SNAP agency.

Caution is recommended with this last approach, despite its potential effectiveness, because SNAP agency administrators may hold you responsible for going “over their heads.”  It will be important for the policymaker to explain the reason he or she is calling the meeting (e.g., you have a pre-existing relationship, the policymaker is hoping to learn more about SNAP E&T and the potential partnership with you via the SNAP agency, etc.)

 

Meeting with the SNAP Agency

Before you meet with the SNAP agency, prepare key messages for the meeting. This may include a verbal and/or written description of:

Your social enterprise as a whole (and parent organization if relevant), including business model, services offered to clients, client demographics, numbers served, outcomes, annual budget, financial capacities, experience with federal grants, relationship to Workforce Investment Boards or One-Stop Career Centers, etc. Highlight your value and describe why your services are effective.

Your proposed SNAP E&T program, including a rough sketch of services to be provided, targeted client demographics, estimated number to be served, and estimated amount of qualified agency funds you bring to the table (for this initial conversation, you can simply describe your existing SNAP E&T-allowable services and demographics as your proposed SNAP E&T program, and use the Tool to Estimate Federal Funding in Step 4 to estimate the number to be served and qualified agency funds.)

The benefits of partnership to the agency and community. Depending on the goals of the agency and its key partners/oversight agencies, this may include increased workforce preparedness and a path to self-sufficiency; assurance that no money is being “left on the table”; reduced SNAP benefits as people gain employment; increased SNAP enrollment due to outreach; increased ability to help SNAP recipients meet their work or ABAWD requirements; ability to address particular community challenges such as homelessness, recidivism and unmet needs of timed-out TANF recipients; increased employment taxes due to increased employment, etc.

Examples of social enterprises successfully participating in SNAP E&T in your state or other states, such as those highlighted in our SNAP E&T webinar.

At the meeting, share talking points, listen for their needs, be flexible in your responses, ask about their expectations if you were to participate, inquire about the availability of training and technical assistance for startup, and encourage them to partner with you. Discuss a timeline and next steps.

If the SNAP agency sounds reluctant to partner, find out what their concerns are, if possible.  Consider solutions to their concerns. For example, if their concern is workload, propose an intermediary model where a state contractor handles oversight, billing, training, etc. Examples of successful intermediaries include California’s Foundation for California Community Colleges (Fresh Success), Georgia’s Goodwill of North Georgia, and Oregon’s Portland Community College and Worksystems (Portland, Oregon).

 

After the SNAP Agency Meeting

Ideally, you will obtain SNAP agency interest or buy-in during the first meeting.  However, you may need multiple meetings to ensure firm commitment.  If the SNAP agency is supportive of moving forward, this is great news!  Inquire with them about next steps and an implementation timeline.

If the SNAP agency does not wish to partner following these meetings, recognize that some SNAP agency policies and readiness change over time; you may need patience and a longer time horizon than originally planned.

Consider taking steps that have proven effective for other partners in the past:

    • Revisit Options A-D above, and consider implementing any steps not taken so far.
    • Contact potential allies in the SNAP agency’s jurisdiction such as legal services agencies, SNAP or poverty advocacy groups, homeless advocates, other employment providers, etc. to develop a common advocacy agenda. With potential allies if possible, conduct administrative advocacy or support legislation to require the SNAP agency to partner with third-parties for SNAP E&T. Use key messages such as those described above. [link to key messages]  Both administrative and legislative advocacy have been used successfully in different states.

 

Decision-Point

If you have obtained buy-in from the SNAP agency, you are ready to begin your planning process.  If you have not obtained buy-in, you may choose to end the assessment process or explore additional options in Step 5.  You may also want to check back with your SNAP agency in a year or more.

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