Montgomery County’s Community Action Board’s Community Advocacy Institute Recognizes 21 Graduates of Free Advocacy Training Program

by Patrick Herron

Per Montgomery County: Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Councilmembers Marilyn Balcombe, Sidney Katz and Laurie Ann-Sayles this week joined the County’s Community Action Board at a graduation ceremony for 21 residents who participated in the 2023 Community Advocacy Institute (CAI).

The Community Action Board (CAB) is the County’s federally designated anti-poverty advisory group.  The Community Action Agency is a program of Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services. The CAI, which began in 2016, is a bilingual (English and Spanish) eight-month training program to help lower-income residents learn how to work with elected officials, using storytelling, research, letter-writing and the development of testimony around key advocacy issues.
“Effective policies can only be created and implemented if all community members have a seat at the table and an opportunity to participate,” said County Executive Elrich.

The County Executive encouraged the 21 graduates to utilize the skills they learned in the program to help make Montgomery County a more equitable place to live for all residents. The CAB provides governance to the DHHS’ Community Action Agency, including Head Start, and facilitates the CAI. Since 2016, there have been 126 graduates from the program. Many now serve on County advisory groups and nonprofit boards, along with participating actively in a variety of advocacy efforts.


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