Melissa Freigang 01 (copy)

Melissa Freigang is pictured on June 6, 2019, outside the Weber-Morgan Health Department headquarters in Ogden. Freigang serves as director of Weber County's Prosperity Center for Excellence and spearheads a program meant to fight intergenerational poverty, Integrated Community Action Now.

OGDEN — The Weber County government program aimed at fighting intergenerational poverty has received a $100,000 injection from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

That, says Melissa Freigang, director of the county’s Center of Excellence, will go a long way in helping expand the impact and reach of the Integrated Community Action Now program, or ICAN. The program is currently serving 118 people, with the figure expected to grow to 163 next week and beyond, perhaps, with the new funding injection.

“Their investment in ICAN and our community allows us to scale this work to an estimated 100 additional children and their families,” Freigang said in an email. She sees the contribution as recognition by the church of the impact the ICAN program has had in pulling people out of intergenerational poverty — poverty in a family that dates back at least another generation.

The church recognizes “that an investment in ICAN is an investment in the future,” Freigang said. Church officials, she went on, are “leaders in supporting agencies and ideas that make the greatest impact on families becoming self-sufficient and resilient.”

The Standard-Examiner reached out to church representatives, but they didn’t have a response as of presstime.

It’s not the first time the ICAN program, launched in July 2019, has received funding from outside the government. Last year, Western Governors University committed $500,000 to the program, to be distributed gradually through 2025. The money from the Salt Lake City-based church, along with county funding, will help boost the number of resource integration coaches in the ICAN program to five, up from two as of late 2019. The coaches work with program participants, helping them understand the resources available from other social service agencies and prodding and encouraging them along the way.

The ICAN program is “child-centric” in that the aim is to build a better future for children and teens in families fighting intergenerational poverty. But the focus is on the whole family, including the kids’ parents. The program serves people across Weber County, though the original focus was on east-central Ogden, and Freigang and others involved in the program aim to expand its reach.

Weber County commissioners formally accepted the church’s donation on March 16 as a transfer from the Weber Human Services Foundation, one of three partners with the Center of Excellence, along with the Weber-Morgan Health Department and the county commission. The church donated the $100,000 to the foundation, meaning for it to be transferred to the ICAN program.

The Center of Excellence, or CoE, “is positioned to implement investments from both private and public funding streams to scale ICAN in Weber County. The CoE’s goal is to attract other like-minded public and private funders to invest in CoE’s ICAN model,” Freigang said. “It has proven to increase child health and well-being, family resilience and ultimately community resilience where children are exercising the power of self-determination.”

In approving acceptance of the funds last month, County Commissioner Scott Jenkins noted a funding hit the ICAN program suffered last year due to rules related to federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, funding. “We’re grateful for this money and what’s happening here,” Jenkins said.

The loss of TANF funds reduced the number of people the ICAN program could serve.

The ICAN program was one of several developed as part of a state push to encourage creation of programs around the state to fight intergenerational poverty. It’s the only one of them “continuing to implement our IGP strategic plan,” Freigang said.

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