Our core mission and values have guided us through this past year. As I write this letter, we continue to navigate through a global pandemic, plan for additional federal funding cuts, remain vigilant of an imbalance within marginalized populations, and more. This has been a trying and defining year for Victim Assistance Program, but we continue to persevere. Community support and resilient staff carried us through the raging storm. We are so very grateful to our philanthropic community for allowing us to answer the call, day or night, rain or shine, pandemic, and all.
Like the rest of the world, Victim Assistance Program was impacted by COVID-19 by decreased income and increased expenses. Portions of our services continued to increase throughout the year as our community needed additional support throughout the pandemic. All victim service programs across the United States then received a funding cut from the largest victim centered federal funding source, a piece of legislation known as VOCA, Victim of Crime Act.
We were informed the 2020-2021 fiscal year cuts would be more significant than the 7% 2019-2020 cuts, but we had no indication of how impactful it would be. So, we successfully secured $375,000 from the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services Board to supplement the expected VOCA loss. When the VOCA awards were released on September 29, 2020, we were astonished to see that Victim Assistance Program was awarded $218,000 less than what we anticipated. After reiterating our goals: preserving our core mission, achieving strategic planning goals, providing exceptional service delivery, and protecting the mental health of our front-line staff, we decided to restructure our table of organization.
During our restructuring and continued strategic planning of significant federal funding cuts, Victim Assistance Program recognized the need to assess our agency’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This DEI initiative began with an end goal of being able to better serve our community, directing particular attention toward immigrant, LGBTQ+, communities of color, and other marginalized populations. This DEI initiative will also help our agency create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforce. As we continue to implement this DEI initiative, our hope is to have a workforce that are better decision-makers, more creative, and innovative in how they provide services to a variety of populations within our community. We are focused on building a diverse, inclusive team and culture, one in which all voices are welcomed and heard.
At Victim Assistance Program, we are invested in finding solutions that create lasting change not only within our agency, but within our community as well. Our core mission and values will always guide us, and our community support and resilient staff will carry us through any storm.