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May 2004 News News page Archive

Community Action Agencies Celebrate National Community Action Month and 40 Years of Fighting Poverty

The Community Action Partnership has declared May to be National Community Action Month. While Community Action Agencies have always promoted their services, May allows Community Actions Agencies across the country to work in sync to maintain a national presence and focus attention on the issues of poverty and their consequences.

This year is especially important to Community Action Agencies as agencies across America celebrate 40 years of fighting poverty. Community Action was born in the enactment of the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) of 1964. The ambitious purpose of this statute was to eliminate the causes and consequences of poverty in the United States. The Act established a federal Office of Economic Opportunity, formed state Economic Opportunity offices and created the new community-based organizations called Community Action Agencies. From the start, Community Action Agencies were expected to act as laboratories for innovative methods of eliminating causes of poverty--causes that neither private efforts, post-war economic growth, nor public programs initiated before and after World War II had been able to eliminate.

There is no typical Community Action Agency. No two are exactly alike because each is governed by the leadership and specific needs of its local community. Core funding for the Community Action Agencies comes from the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). The Community Services Block Grant supports both the unique mission and the many anti-poverty services of Community Action Agencies. Because of the flexible nature of the CSBG, Community Action agencies are able to shape national and state programs to meet the local needs. The CSBG provides the funding that allows Community Action leaders the time, facilities and staff to mobilize resources and to plan and integrate those programs that best meet community needs.

Community Action Agencies provide many services. For example, they remain the single largest delivery systems for Head Start programs, Community Food and Nutrition Programs and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Other services provided by Community Action Agencies include Employment and Training, Senior Nutrition, Home Weatherization, Public Transportation and many others. They fill service gaps so that critical needs can be met and provide linkages to resources that otherwise would be inaccessible. By coordinating multiple programs and resources, Community Action Agencies achieve their mission of creating opportunities for low-income people to overcome the challenges of poverty.

In addition to service delivery, Community Action Agencies identify the specific needs of their communities and design opportunities and programs to meet those needs. As a result, rather than promoting dependence on welfare and other forms of government assistance, Community Action Agencies foster self-sufficiency and independence for the low-income people they serve.

There are over 1, 100 local, private non-profit and public agencies that work to alleviate poverty and empower low-income families throughout the United States. In 2002, Community Action Agencies served over 13 million low-income people in 96 percent of the nation’s counties. Statistics show that poverty touches a large proportion of Americans over their lifetimes. Sometimes it is a chronic condition that persists over several generations. More often, poverty comes as consequences of life’s unremarkable tragedies-illness, job loss, divorce or disability- that can destroy a family’s ability to support itself. Regardless of the cause, most families struggle against their predicament and many fight their way out of poverty.

Community Action Agencies across America operate with the common goal of enabling people to eventually become independent of any public or charitable assistance. They prioritize prevention initiatives and provide extended involvement with clients to support the length of time and variety of assistance to increase permanently their opportunity to be economically self-sufficient.

The Community Action Program Corporation of Washington-Morgan Ohio is a community based non-profit organization that serves both Washington and Morgan County, Ohio. Washington-Morgan Community Action ,like other Community Action Agencies, provides services that meet the specific need of the communities in which it is located. For more information on the history of Washington-Morgan Community Action or program descriptions please return to the homepage.

For more information on the National Community Action Foundation please visit them at www.ncaf.org. Information on Community Action Agencies throughout the United States can be found at www.communityactionpartnership.com

Information for article adapted from the Community Services Network: The Community Services Block Grant in Action Fiscal Year 2002; a publication of the National Association of Community Services Programs.


Washington-Morgan Community Action Washington and Morgan Counties, Ohio


218 Putnam Street, Marietta, OH 45750 (740) 373-3745
50 W. Third Street, PO Box 398, Malta, OH 43758
(740) 962-3827