Shoals Care Network


Our network is built upon the premise that no one person, program, organization, or helping agency has all the information, skills, or resources necessary to address all the social and economic challenges that confront people here in the Shoals.

Shoals Care Network provides the new context for which many different service providers (nonprofits, churches, government, and others) can come together to make sense of the changes that impact our community, better understand people's needs, and implement sustainable solutions through collective action. By working together more efficiently and effectively, we will strengthen and mobilize our community caring power throughout our neighborhoods, cities, and counties. The results will be amazing and unprecedented.

Poverty and hunger are harsh realities for thousands of people living in the Shoals. According to research, an estimated 26,321 people (17.6% in Lauderdale County - 19.2% in Colbert County) are living in poverty.

An uncertain economy coupled with rising transportation and child care costs are making it more difficult for a family to maintain a decent standard of living. In fact, recent research indicates that a single mom with two children must earn $21.06/hour (full-time) to be self-sufficient, that is, to meet their basic needs without relying on public or private assistance.

Also disturbing is the reality that 8,140 children (25.5% of our child population) in the Shoals are food insecure, wondering where their next meal is coming from. According to the Food Research and Action Center, Alabama has the 2nd highest food hardship rate in the nation. Loaves and Fishes, our local food bank, is distributing over one million pounds of food each year to needy families.

These realities suggest that we must advance a more comprehensive approach to improving people's lives - not just a hand out, but a hand up to a better quality of life and brighter future for everyone. Working together, we can discover more effective ways to eliminate poverty and hunger in the Shoals.

Data Source: U.S. Census, Community Action Association of Alabama - Poverty Profile by County (2012), Basic Economic Security Table for Lauderdale and Colbert Counties (2011), and Feeding America - 2010 Child Food Insecurity Rate

We invite all service providers in the Shoals to join together in supporting the following goals:

  • People are better served.

    By enhancing our service delivery systems we will make it faster and easier for people to get the help they need - especially for children, at-risk youth, families, and senior adults.

  • Service providers are better informed.

    Greater connectivity will enable service providers to make better informed decisions as how to allocate limited resources where they are most needed. Unnecessary duplication of efforts will decrease. Accountability and efficiency will increase. Service providers will experience greater sustainability and effectiveness.

  • Communities are better engaged.

    Shoals Care Network will encourage more local citizens to give back to their communities. Education, innovative technology, and neighborhood partnerships will enhance our ability to build capacity for increased volunteerism and community engagement.


Streamlined exchange of knowledge and information

We bridge the gaps across cultural and organizational boundaries


Mutually beneficial ways of working together

We learn to value and respect each other more


Synergistic creation of best practices and long-term solutions

We produce things together that we cannot do apart from each other
  • STEP 1 — We will create a regional network of communications that keeps people well-connected, informed, and engaged. This network will broaden the reach of existing channels of communication and open new channels that reach across private, public, and social sectors.

  • STEP 2 — We will encourage individuals, associations, and institutions with shared interests, values, and vision to partner together for greater outcomes. Our collective knowledge and shared resources will help us tackle community challenges with greater force and long-lasting impact.

  • STEP 3 — By creating new contexts and starting new conversations, we will harvest creative ideas and collective wisdom that produce sustainable solutions. Together, we will discover new and exciting ways to make the Shoals a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.

Community Safety Net

We are creating a Community Safety Net that increases awareness and accessibility of life-enriching programs/services that are available to Shoals residents. This "safety net" will make it easier and faster for people to get the help they need and keep them from falling through the cracks.

To strengthen our Community Safety Net, we are building upon the remarkable contributions of nonprofits, churches, government, and others that have been engaged in community care for many years. We are also exploring new possibilities that streamline communication, enhance cooperation, increase knowledge-sharing, and develop collaborative solutions for collective impact.

We are also expanding the use of innovative community-building technology that was created right here in the Shoals in 2006 and is now making a difference in over 800 cities all across America. This technology enables helping agencies to work together more efficiently and effectively at grassroots levels. Agencies can make better informed decisions regarding assistance and better allocate limited resources where they are most needed.

Our Shoals Care Network (SCN) will use proven capacity-building and technology tools to enhance our service delivery systems and develop a more comprehensive approach to improving people's lives. Contributing to the awareness and effectiveness of our Shoals Care Network (SCN) are the following.

SCN Council represents stakeholders from the following community sectors.

  • Government — elected officials, public safety coordinators, and service agencies

  • Nonprofit — resource providers and social workers

  • Faith-based — churches, synagogues, and missional organizations

  • Healthcare — physical, mental, and emotional care providers

  • Education — teachers, trainers, and career counselors

Their mission is to encourage leaders of helping agencies to work together more efficiently and effectively to improve people's lives. They meet regularly to learn from each other, seek ways to complement each other, and identify service gaps that need immediate attention.

SCN Catalyst Teams are made up of civic entrepreneurs who ignite enterprise that benefits all of the above community sectors.

They leverage their leadership positions and influence to encourage Shoals citizens to give back to their community and work together with others in making a difference. Catalyst Teams help get things started, and then, step back to support those who champion the cause and keep things moving forward.

SCN Administrative Team is made up of leaders who understand how to plan the work, and then, work the plan. These leaders include:

  • Coordinators — who can make sure projects stay focused and move in the right direction.

  • Communicators — who make sure everyone is well-connected, informed, and clearly understand their important assignments.

  • Connectors — who have credibility and a warm personality that brings diverse groups of people together for collaborative discussions.

S.E.A.N.Tracker (Shoals Emergency Assistance Network) enables agencies to stay well-connected and better informed.

Sixty-eight agencies use this easy-to-use technology to collectively keep track of the people they serve and quickly gather resources from other agencies. This technology makes it easier for agencies to make better informed decisions as how to best help people and allocate resources where they are most needed. Duplication of efforts is decreasing, saving agencies 18% on average, annually. This technology also improves our disaster preparedness by enabling helping agencies to instantly broadcast area-wide bulletins and alerts 24/7, streamline interactive communication in real-time, coordinate relief efforts, and quickly mobilize resources and volunteers.

Roadmap to Success

Shoals service providers are faced with many challenges. Increased demand for services and dwindling government aid are forcing agencies to do more with less. Also, the complexity of people's needs seems overwhelming and at times beyond the scope of many agency programs and services, especially those that only provide emergency assistance. Service providers realize that short-term relief does not provide people with long-term solutions for self-sustainability.

There is growing consensus among service providers that the Shoals needs a more coordinated and strategic continuum of care that helps people achieve a better quality of life and brighter future. This comprehensive approach will enable helping agencies to do what they can for people, and then, point them in the right direction of other agencies that provide appropriate services for particular needs.

Shoals Care Network will develop Roadmap to Success, a continuum of care supported by helping agencies that work together for collective impact. Different agencies will work closely with individuals and families - empowering their journey from crisis to self-sustainability. This journey involves a strategic plan equipped with goals, tools, and resources that are tailored to each person's unique skills and needs.

A person's progress in working the plan is privately recorded by S.E.A.N.Tracker, an online shared-case management system used by 68 helping agencies here in the Shoals. All assistance, referrals, and outcomes are monitored in real-time — making it easier for agencies to track a person's progress and advise course corrections when needed. All of this increases accountability and efficient allocation of resources.

Roadmap to Success offers individuals and families a HAND UP and not just a hand out.

Neighborhood Partnerships

Image the possibilities as households, schools, churches, businesses, and others rediscover the art of neighboring and the mutual benefits of neighborhood partnerships. We will discover new and exciting ways for people and organizations to work together for common good - improving people's lives and strengthening our communities.

Shoals Care Network encourages the development of neighborhood partnerships that empower local citizens to live healthier, more prosperous, and meaningful lives. By working together more efficiently and effectively, we will be better able to clearly define social and economic challenges, create options, develop collective strategies, and implement long-term solutions at the grassroots level.

The results will be amazing! Neighborhoods will be transformed into places where everyone feels safe, welcome, and valued. Community engagement and volunteerism will increase by 300%. Neighbors will be better connected, informed, and engaged.

Shoals Care Network also encourages the development of Neighborhood Resource Centers - at least one in every city district. These centers will serve as a "public face" of cooperation among businesses, nonprofits, churches, government, and others that truly care about community - its people, potential, and possibilities.

These friendly and caring places offer people convenient access to up-to-date vital information about programs and services that nurture the lives of children, youth, adults, and families. These center also serve as agents of catalytic enterprise that strengthens and mobilizes community caring power.

The Benefits

Shoals Care Network, Roadmap to Success, and Neighborhood Partnerships are important parts of the Loving the Shoals Strategic Plan - collective impact strategies that future generations can build upon. These strategies offer us unprecedented opportunity to move beyond isolated stop-gap solutions and onto large-scale systemic plans for social and economic well-being.

We are learning to use what we have ... to create what we need. Working together we will create a more comprehensive and adaptive approach for human, community, economic, and leadership development. This holds great hope and promise for developing sustainable solutions in the Shoals that improve people's lives and strengthen our communities - now and for years to come.

(256) 394-2034