...improving access to and the effectiveness of community services through collaboration, coordination, and integration.
Community Resource Connections, Inc. (CRC), originally called “Bemidji Area Council of Nonprofits (BACN)”, began as an informal networking group in the early 1980’s. Originally, the group was made up of 8 Bemidji-based nonprofits, all with a focus on human services. A more formal organization developed in the late 1980’s in response to a growing need for nonprofit efficiency, integration and collaboration.
CRC affiliated with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits in 2000 to increase regional impact and support work being done at a State level. This affiliation expanded CRC’s service area to include Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater and Hubbard Counties. Literally overnight, CRC grew from a 23 member agency serving one county to a 40 member agency serving four counties.
CRC continues to work closely with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, but has recently chosen to move away from the status of “affiliation”. As a result, CRC is open to membership from a limitless service area and a broader range of constituents, including individuals, for profit businesses, and families. Membership dues no longer purchase joint MCN/CRC membership, however, nonprofit agencies choosing both CRC and MCN membership receive a coupon for $25 off of their MCN annual fees.
Today, CRC operates with four paid staff, several volunteers and a Board of Directors including 7 nonprofit Directors and 4 Community Members. Three office sites exist: 1 in Blackduck at the Blackduck Resource Center, another at the Northern Dental Access Center in Bemidji, and corporate headquarters in the Prime West health building located at 3124 Hannah Avenue NW. We are co-located with United Way, Peacemaker Resources and administrative Prime West staff.
Community Resource Connections often works behind the scenes, serving the community in ways that are similar to a Chamber of Commerce. Some CRC activities focus directly on helping nonprofits reach their intended clients. In that capacity, CRC provides:
- Awareness of nonprofits and the impact of their services
- A nonprofit voice from Northwest Minnesota with a valuable link to the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
- Networking opportunities & training events targeting the needs of nonprofits
- A centralized process for disseminating resources/donations where they are most needed
- Fiscal agent services for new nonprofit programs
- Assistance with program development and evaluation
- Facilitation of the local Child Abuse Prevention Council
Other CRC services, while significantly beneficial to nonprofits, are more directly utilized by the public. CRC provides access to community services by managing the Blackduck Family Resource Center in Blackduck, Minnesota. Instead of outlying residents traveling the distance to the county seat Bemidji service providers are given access to complimentary space at the Blackduck Center so that residents can receive local services.
At two sites in Beltrami County, the Blackduck Resource Center and the Northern Dental Access Center, CRC provides Service Access Specialists. These staff members make themselves available to the public, as well as area professionals, for the purpose of providing information about services available in the area and helping the public navigate the systems of services that prove confusing. Professional staff members are trained to assist the public on a wide spectrum of service options including but not limited to: Social Security Disability, Medicare, Housing services, Mental health services, Financial Assistance, and more. This component of CRC’s services is called “Service Access”.
What makes Service Access different than the information and referral individual agencies offer is that CRC works endlessly to stay updated on changing programs and eligibility criteria. While individual agencies specialize in specific issues or program areas – CRC is able to provide an unbiased perspective of all of the choices available to residents. This perspective allows CRC to recommend services, not by what we as an individual agency have to offer, but rather, across numerous agency specialties. In this way, clients are helped to identify their needs and priorities and then navigated through the various systems intended to help them.
CRC staff are certified as MNSure Navigators. Call and schedule an appointment to enroll in Medical Assistance, Minnesota Care or a Qualified Health Plan.