The continuing transition of the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo may include a new name.
The anti-poverty agency has a new chief executive officer in Stanley Lowe, has received infusions of cash from the city and county, and is considering a rebranding strategy that would tie into a reorganization. The agency is trying to rebuild after losing its largest source of funds when the federal government took away its Head Start grant.
The EOPA board created a rebranding committee last month. That committee met for the first time two weeks ago, and the full board told the members on Monday to continue its efforts. The agency is learning lessons from other community action agencies that underwent similar changes after hard financial times. For instance, the Columbus Metropolitan Area Community Action Organization lost its Head Start grant, went bankrupt, and closed in 2005; a successor agency was rebranded as Impact Community Action.
Members of the EOPA rebranding committee said talks are less about a new name and more about “reinventing” EOPA, including a staff restructuring, board training, a possible relocation of the agency, and a new focus on the agency. Among items discussed at a meeting was a need to build political and community support, a communication and social media strategy, a new Web site, and other changes.
Much of the planning for those possible changes will be done in the next 30 days, Mr. Lowe said, but there were hints Monday that EOPA may have at least begun a shift in atmosphere. The meeting, largely devoid of argument or heated discussion, was a departure from what often has been raucous board sessions.
At one point, board members discussed a collaborative effort organized by the Toledo Community Foundation to set up a joint community bid for Head Start. Some board members voiced concern that other agencies that are part of the effort was disrespecting EOPA and that EOPA may be pushed aside in the process.
Board member Ed Scrutchins asked why EOPA was still at the table in the talks. In a discussion that followed, Mr. Lowe laid out his philosophy of continuing dialog in the community and his attempt to build partnerships.
“EOPA cannot be an island unto itself,” Mr. Lowe said.
Mr. Scrutchins later moved that EOPA remain a part of the collaborative effort.