What is Community Action?
Community Action and Community Action Agencies (CAAs) began with the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to fight America's War on Poverty.
Community Action Agencies are nonprofit private and public organizations established to help people to help themselves in achieving self-sufficiency. Today there are approximately 1000 Community Action Agencies, serving the poor in every state as well as Puerto Rico and the Trust Territories
Community Action Agencies Across America
The service areas of Community Action Agencies (CAAs) cover 96 percent of the nation's counties. Our agencies are connected by a national network that includes the Community Action Partnership national association, regional associations, state associations, a national lobbying organization, and a national association of Community Service Block Grant administrators.
CAAs are a primary source of direct support for the more than 34.5 million people who live in poverty in the United States. The majority of CAA program participants are extremely poor, with incomes below 75 percent of the federal poverty threshold, or $9,735 for a family of three (the average family size for the client population).
The Community Action network serves more than:
- 16.2 million individuals per year
- 3 million families per year
- 54% of CAAs serve rural areas.
- 36% of CAAs serve areas considered both urban and rural.
- 10% of CAAs serve urban areas.
What CAAs Do
Because each CAA is governed locally, each provides a different mix of programs and services. The following represent the percentages of Community Action Agencies that deliver these services:
- Community Coordination - 94%
Citizen participation, neighborhood and community organization, information and referrals
- Emergency Services - 91%
Food Pantries, energy assistance homeless shelters, domestic violence
- Education - 89%
Head Start, youth mentoring ,literacy, Adult Basic Education
- Food and Nutrition - 84%
Meals on Wheels, congregate feeding, food banks
- Family Development - 68%
Day care, case management, counseling, support
- Employment Training/Employment - 63%
Job readiness, job training, and job creation
- Income Management - 53%
- Budget Counseling Transportation - 49%
Rural transportation systems, on-demand transportation
- Housing - 46%
Self-help housing, homeownership, rental assistance, Weatherization
- Economic Development - 39%
Business planning and loans, water and sewer
- Health Care - 29%
Health Clinics, WIC, prescription assistance
Board, Staff, and Volunteers
CAA boards of directors have a unique composition of:
- at least one-third members from the low-income community
- exactly one-third public officials
- up to one-third members from the private sector
National CAA Averages
- The average size of a CAA board is:
MCAA - 15 people
- The typical size agency has:
115 full-time equivalent workers.
MCAA - 165 people
- On average each CAA has: 813 people volunteering at the agency each year.
Source Data - National Community Action Partnership