A SHORT HISTORY OF
COMMUNITY ACTION

The “Community Action Program” (“CAP”) was established over thirty-five years ago by Congress as a centerpiece of the War on Poverty. The goal of the program, which is now part of the Community Services Block Grant, is to reduce poverty, revitalize low-income communities, and empower low-income individuals and families to become fully self-sufficient. The program is carried out by a national network of over 1300 designated Community Action Agencies (“CAAs”), which provide a diverse array of services to and advocacy on behalf of low-income individuals and families.

“We must open the doors of opportunity.
But we must also equip our people to walk through those doors”

– PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON

In 1964 President L.B. Johnson officially declared a “War on Poverty” and quickly appointed Sargent Shriver to lead a Poverty Task Force that would ultimately shape the Community Action movement. Mr. Shriver presented a “poverty proposal” to Congress that lead to the passage of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.  President Johnson didn’t stop there; he also created the Office of Economic Opportunity; specifically designed to create and implement programs that would provide services to engage the “poor” and help move low-income Americans toward self sufficiency. Community Action programs were formed across the country and programs such as Head Start and Job Corps were implemented. By 1966 there were more than 1000 Community Action Agencies spread out across the country.

More than 40 years later, Community Action has continued to pursue its original mission; fighting the “War on Poverty” by providing “a helping hand not a hand out.” Over 90 percent of US Counties have a Community Action Agency that is focused on serving its low-income residents. Community Action Agencies rely on the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) to help fund the programs they provide. Since the implementation of the CSBG, budget allocations have been on a roller coaster. Currently the CSBG is allocated at 630 million dollars, which is shared by community action agencies in 50 states and the trust territories. CSBG funds are the backbone of Community Action, but because of the limited amount funds, dispersed to hundreds of agencies across the country, CAAs are forced to find alternative sources to provide services to their communities.

The Promise of Community Action

Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.

Community Action, administered under Community Services Block Grant program, is run by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees a broad range of federal programs that address the needs of children and families. To ease the burden of oversight and administration, ACF created 10 regions. California along with Arizona, Hawaii and Nevada and the trust territories of American Samoa, Guam, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, make up our region – Region 9.

REGION IX COMMUNITY ACTION ASSOCIATION

The Region IX Community Action Association is comprised of 65 member agencies. As the membership organization for Region 9, the purposes of the Association are to:

  1. Provide opportunities for Region 9 Community Action agency and state association directors and staff to come together and share information, ideas, and mutual concerns.
  2. Support the efforts of the Community Action Partnership (CAP) – the national association, the National Community Action Foundation (NCAF), and other like organizations that encourage, promote and stimulate the development of resources, which demonstrate progress toward the elimination of poverty.
  3. Promote professional growth and competence of Region 9 member agencies and associations through training and support.

REGION IX REGIONAL PERFORMANCE AND INNOVATION CONSORTIUM (RPIC)

Through cooperative agreements with the Office of Community Services (OCS), a division of the ACF, the purpose of Regional Performance and Innovation Consortia is to support ongoing state, regional, and national training and technical assistance (T/TA) strategies for collaboration, capacity-building, and exemplary practice in the CSBG program and among state Community Action agency associations. Each Regional Performance and Innovation Consortium (RPIC) coordinates regional T/TA activities among state associations with the central mission of ensuring that all CSBG-eligible entities are able to meet high-quality performance standards and utilize evidence-informed service approaches to address the identified needs of low-income people in communities.

The Region IX RPIC is represented by the core values of Leveraging, Innovation, Networking, Knowledge and Sustainability, signified by the acronym LINKS, which serve as the foundation for all of regional T/TA activities and have been incorporated into the brand by which the RPIC identifies: RPIC LINKS. RPIC LINKS is administered by the California Community Action Partnership Association and serves Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada and the trust territories of American Samoa, Guam, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

CAA PROGRAMS & SERVICES

Because each CAA is governed locally, each provides a different mix of programs and services. The following list represents services delivered by Community Action Agencies:

Asset Development: Individual Development Accounts (IDA), budget counseling
Community Coordination: citizen engagement, community assessment, information and referrals
Economic Development: business planning and loans, entrepreneurship, water and sewer
Education: Head Start, youth mentoring, literacy, adult basic education
Emergency Services: food pantries, energy assistance homeless shelters, domestic violence
Family Development: day care, case management, counseling, support
Food & Nutrition: Meals on Wheels, SNAP, congregate feeding, food banks
Health Care: health clinics, WIC, prescription assistance
Housing: self-help housing, home ownership, rental assistance, weatherization
Training & Employment Services: job readiness, job training, and job creation
Transportation Assistance: rural transportation systems, on-demand transportation

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

ACCES    Association of California Community and Energy Services
ACF    Administration for Children and Families
AFI    Assets for Independence
ARRA    American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
CAA    Community Action Agency
CAB     Community Action Board
CAC    Community Advisory Committee or Community Action Council
CAP    Community Action Partnership (national association for CAAs)
CCEDA    California Community Economic Development Association
CDBG    Community Development Block Grant
CED    Community Economic Development
CFNP     Community Food and Nutrition Programs
CFR     Code of Federal Regulations
CSA     Community Services Administration (no longer in existence as of October 1981)
CSBG    Community Services Block Grant (part of the Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act of 1981)
CSD    California Department of Community Services & Development
CSN    Community Services Network
DEO     U.S. Department of Economic Opportunity
DOE    U.S. Department of Energy
DOL     U.S. Department of Labor
DSA    Division of State Assistance
EC    Energy Council
EFMS     Emergency Food and Medical Services
EITC    Earned Income Tax Credit
EOA     Equal Opportunity Act of 1964 (replaced by the Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act of 1981)
EOC     Economic Opportunity Commission
EOO     Equal Opportunity Office
EOP    Educational & Outreach Project
EPA     Environmental Protection Agency
ERA     Energy Research Agency or Equal Rights Amendment
ERISA     Employee Retirement Income Security Act
EZ/EC     Enterprise Zone/Enterprise Community
FASB     Financial Accounting Standards Bureau or Financial Accounting Standards Board
FERC     Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
FICA     Federal Insurance Contribution Act
FNS     Food and Nutrition Service
FVP    Family Violence Prevention
GA     General Assistance
GAAP     Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (published by FASB)
GAAS     Generally Accepted Auditing Standards
GAGAS     Generally Accepted Government Accounting Standards
HAP     Homeless Assistance Program
HCDA     Housing and Community Development Act
HEAP    Home Energy Assistance Program
HHS    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
HRD     Human Resources Development
HS    Head Start
HUD    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
IDA    Individual Development Accounts
IM    Information Memorandum
JTPA     Job Training Partnership Act of 1983
LIHEAP    Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
LPA    Limited Purpose Agency
NAACP     National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
NACAA     National Association of Community Action Agencies (now the Community Action Partnership)
NACD     National Association for Community Development
NASCSP    National Association for State Community Services Programs
NCAF    National Community Action Foundation (CAA lobbying organization)
NCIDC    Northern California Indian Development Council
NEADA    National Energy Assistance Directors Association (state LIHEAP directors association)
OBRA     Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act of 1981 (established the CSBG and other Block Grants)
OCD     Office of Child Development
OCS    Office of Community Services
OEO     Federal Office of Economic Opportunity (change to Community Services Administration in 1975)
OFA    Office of Family Assistance
OHS    Office of Head Start
OMB     Office of Management and Budget
OPRE    Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
OSHA     Occupational Safety and Health Administration (under U.S. Department of Labor)
PAC     Policy Advisory Committee or Parent Advisory Committee or Political Action Committee
ROMA    Results Oriented Management and Accountability
RPIC    Regional Performance and Innovation Consortia
SBA     Small Business Administration
SBNA    Strength Based Needs Assessment
SDA     Service Delivery Area
SDI     State Disability Insurance
SNAP    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
SSA     Social Security Administration
SSBG    Social Services Block Grant
SSI     Supplemental Security Income
SSTA    Special State Technical Assistance
SUI     State Unemployment Insurance
TANF    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
T/TA     Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA)
USDA     U.S. Department of Agriculture
VITA    Volunteers for Tax Assistance
WIC     Women, Infants and Children Program
YDP     Youth Development Program
YEP     Youth Employment Program (formerly Neighborhood Youth Corps)
YOP     Youth Opportunity Program