Originally published by the City of Dallas on December 18, 2023
DALLAS - The City of Dallas is teaming up with a national nonprofit, Benefits Data Trust, to ensure that seniors, children and other eligible city residents will have access to programs that provide critical resources like nutrition, healthcare and other support families need.
The two-year, $2.75 million project, supported by American Rescue Plan Act funds, is a part of the City's broader strategy to reduce barriers to participation in state, local, and federal benefit programs, while improving economic stability for families citywide.
“The Office of Community Care is excited to partner with Benefits Data Trust, a national leader in modernizing access to assistance programs, to develop a strategy to tighten the benefits safety net for local residents in need of support,” said Director Jessica Galleshaw. “All too often, we hear from residents who need a bit of help and are completely overwhelmed by the complicated processes to apply for and receive a variety of benefits for which they are eligible, adding undue stress and pressure to an already trying time for these families. Our hope is that this partnership will help us to find ways to make it easier to get the help folks need so they can be safe, stable and get back on their feet.”
The project will include an assessment of the current state of benefit program access, which will inform a plan by 2025 for Dallas to implement a coordinated citywide benefits access initiative. Workshops will bring together organizations and institutions that serve eligible individuals, including community-based organizations, food banks, and government agencies, to elevate best practices for reducing barriers to enrollment.
BDT will ultimately deliver a strategic roadmap for the City of Dallas to build a comprehensive benefits access system. BDT and the City of Dallas will run pilot programs with four local organizations to test better ways to notify residents of their eligibility and to help them apply.
The project is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, which Congress approved to aid in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Benefit programs strengthen families by contributing to employment, income, and life expectancy,” said Tonya O. Edwards, associate director of engagement for Texas at BDT, which has collaborated with almost half the states across the country and several major U.S. cities. “They also strengthen local economies by supporting jobs. We are grateful for the opportunity to make it easier for Dallas residents who are eligible to enroll in programs to receive help.”
The collaboration between the city and BDT is rooted in BDT’s work with the Child Poverty Action Lab, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting and ending childhood poverty in Dallas.
“One of the most powerful and achievable strategies Dallas can pursue to support children is helping working families access the hundreds of millions of dollars that go underutilized each year in the form of benefits ranging from food stamps or tax credits,” said Alan Cohen, chief executive officer of CPAL. “We are excited to see our longstanding partners at City Hall and BDT working together to leverage data and proactively deliver available benefits to Dallas families.”
About Benefits Data Trust
Benefits Data Trust (BDT) improves health and financial security by harnessing the power of data, technology, and policy to provide dignified and equitable access to assistance. Together with a national network of government agencies and partners, we efficiently connect people today to programs that pay for food, healthcare, and more while helping to modernize benefits access for tomorrow. A nonprofit since 2005, BDT has secured more than $10 billion in benefits for households across the country, helping to reduce hunger and poverty and build pathways to economic mobility. Learn more at bdtrust.org.