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What is Community Action?

Community Action Agencies are private non-profit or public organizations that were created by the federal government in 1964 to combat poverty in geographically designated areas. Status as a Community Action Agency is the result of an explicit designation by state government. A Community Action Agency has a tripartite board structure that is designated to promote the participation of the entire community in the reduction of poverty.

Community Action Agencies seek to involve the community, including elected public officials, private sector representatives, and especially residents who live on limited incomes, in assessing local needs and combating the causes and conditions of poverty.

In order to reduce poverty in its community, a Community Action Agency works to better focus available local, state, private, and federal resources to assist low-income individuals and families to acquire useful skills and knowledge, gain access to new opportunities and achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Most poverty-related organizations focus on a specific area of need, such as job training, health care, housing or economic development. Community Action Agencies reach out to low-income people in their communities, address their multiple needs through a comprehensive approach, develop partnerships with other community organizations, involve low-income clients in the agency’s operations, and administer a full range of coordinated programs designed to have a measurable impact on poverty.

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