Financial help and self-sufficiency from Community Action Marin.

Assistance from the Community Action Marin County is extensive. The non-profit coordinates everything from emergency financial assistance to self-sufficiency. The non-profit also offers resources such as EFN to programs for children, including Head Start.

Some of the primary resources available from the agency are noted below. If the non-profit known as CAM can't meet a qualified low income families needs, then they may have referrals. Call them for information on job training, rent and security deposit help, counseling, and LIHEAP energy bill assistance.

The EFN - Emergency Family Needs is a financial assistance program that provides help with paying housing costs and other bills. This can include rent or mortgage payments and security deposits. There may also be funds available to pay for car repairs, prescription eyeglasses, or medications, as well as a number of other emergency needs. Note that EFN from Community Action Marin does not provide help for utility payments, food, clothing, or needs that can be met through other assistance programs.

While there are no official income restrictions or requirements for the EFN program, applicants must demonstrate that they have minor young children living at home, they are senior citizens, or have a disability. Some clients may be issued a loan as part of EFN for expenses such as rent.

Community Action Marin can coordinate electric and utility bill help as well. The agency serves as local administrator for the federally-funded Home Energy Assistance Program. More details are below.

HEAP Assistance provides once-per-year help with meeting electric, wood, natural gas and propane home energy costs. Eligibility and level of assistance are determined according to  gross monthly income, household size and program priorities as well as government funding levels. Please note that program restrictions may change on an annual basis, according to funding availability.

The community action agency Energy Program also acts as a information provider and can offer linkage to other energy assistance and residential conservation programs. They do this mostly by providing referrals. A partial list of organizations and resources they work with is below:

  • Case managers can help clients enter into utility payment plans and arrangement.
  • Access to federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (weatherization). This is the US Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).
  • Utility company operated conservation programs.




  • PG & E-Sponsored CARE Program (20 percent discount on PG & E Rates).
  • State of California sponsored resources such as Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA), REACH (Direct Financial Assistance), and/or the Medical Baseline.

Sparkpoint Marin Center is a one-stop community service center that offers a range of financial resource services. Its purpose is to help you and your family learn, grow and prosper. This is accomplished with the assistance of financial coaches and credit counselors. They  will help you create a step-by-step plan for addressing your unique needs. The center provides the tools to:

  • Find a job or build a career.
  • Learn how to start or expand a small business.
  • Reduce debts and improve credit.
  • Get help with filing taxes at no charge.
  • Learn About and Apply for Public Benefits such as CalWorks or disability.
  • Open a Prepaid Debit Card or Access Banking Services.

Sparkpoint Marin Center is located in the office of Prosperity Partners at Community Action Marin, or CAM. They are dedicated to working with you to achieve lasting financial stability. The location's financial coaches and counselors include staff members of local organizations, such Marin County Health and Human Services, Community Action Marin, The Canal Alliance, United Way of the Bay Area of California, as well as Prosperity Partners. To learn more about SparkPoint Marin Center services and the programs they run, dial 415-526-7530.

MAAP, or the Marin Asian Advocacy Project, provides comprehensive services that are specifically targeted to help ease the transition into American society for Marin County Asian, immigrants and South Asian community members. MAAP's services address the following issues.

  • Health needs can be addressed, such as Heart Health, Smoking Cessation, Drug and Alcohol Issues, Breast Cancer Awareness, and Workplace Safety.
  • Economic Development: Get advice in applying for Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), Individual Development Accounts, ITIN - Individual Tax Identification Numbers, Free Income Tax Preparation, Credit Repair, and Financial Literacy Trainings.
  • Social Justice, Advocacy and Equity Activities.
  • Immigration Rights, advice and free legal assistance is coordinated by community action.
  • Family Dynamics - The focus is on self-sufficiency, so it offers Parenting Classes, Violence Prevention, and support for Fatherhood Issues.
  • Translation and Interpretation Services for newcomers to the county.

Head Start is the region's and state of California's main child and family development program that provides low-income families and their children with comprehensive education, health, nutrition and social services.

Families that meet low income levels will receive support as they make positive changes in their lives that will benefit them now and in the future. Parental involvement has been instrumental in the success of Head Start, so they are provided with the opportunity to play a vital role in the daily life of the program.





Some of the options available from Community Action Marin to parents include meetings, literacy classes, and a classroom volunteer program. The Marin County Head Start is successful because it is built on partnership among staff, parents, teacher and the community. Other services offered include the following:

  • Full and Partial-Day Classrooms for Children Three to Five Years Old.
  • Home-Base Support for Home-Schooling Parents, such as Adult Literacy Classes.
  • Health and Nutrition Services, including Free Nutritious Meals served in a fun, Family-Style Environment.
  • Free Health and Safety Education for Children and Parents in Marin County, including Medical and Dental Screenings
  • Prenatal Support and Education for Pregnant Women.
  • Treatment Assistance for Health and Developmental Problems. This also includes assistance in Identifying Children Who May Have a Disability.
  • Infant/Toddler Day Care Centers.
  • Coordination with Special Education Providers and Specialists to Meet the Educational Needs of Children with Disabilities.
  • Connecting families to Marin County resources and referrals to government programs.

The Children’s Center offers a parent-participation service and a pre-school program for children from two-and-a-half to five years old. In addition to that, extended afternoon day care is also available for children from low to income families that are two-and-a-half to ten years of age.

The program is affordable. What it does is it emphasizes social, cognitive, emotional, and physical development of the child and students. It encourages the development of intellectual skills and addresses the balance between self-identity and learning to relate to a group, to other children, and to adults. The Center works closely with the local school districts in Marin County to provide a seamless transition between pre-school and kindergarten.

A Mental Health Program from Community Action Marin can provide an atmosphere of caring and warmth. It will offer the best opportunities for those with mental illness to reach self-sufficiency as well as their highest potential.




CAM Mental Health is committed to teaching, empowering, and advocating for clients. Mental Health services are free of charge to those with an illness and to their friends and family members. Each day, staff and case managers teach individuals about their illnesses or diagnoses. They also educate family members, parents, and friends about mental illness so that they will be better able to help their loved ones.

All care is provided to patients by trained Mental Health Peer Counselors and doctors. The activities range from working with individuals and families as peer case managers to helping people through times of crisis. They accept referrals from a variety of sources, including not for profit community agencies, clients, family members, law enforcement officers, charities, therapists, and physicians.

The main location of CAM - Community Action Marin is at 29 Mary Street in San Rafael, California 94901. Dial 415-526-7500.

By Jon McNamara

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