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History of
Community Action

"This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America....Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it."


President Lyndon B. Johnson, State of the Union Address, January 8, 1964

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Community Action Agencies began in 1964 after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a War on Poverty. America’s Community Action Agencies connect millions of children and families to greater opportunity, transforming their lives and making our communities – and our nation – stronger. By focusing on a range of community challenges, Community Action works to ignite economic growth and ensure all families can benefit. Across the country, Community Action Agencies are the nation’s eyes and ears about what’s getting in the way of a family’s economic stability and what’s working to help them succeed.

CSO is a member of the Community Action Partnership, the national hub that links the nation’s 1,000+ local Community Action Agencies and State Associations to each other and to leaders looking for solutions that connect families to great opportunity. Community Action Agencies are locally run but receive a range of public and private resources for their work. This includes funding from the federal Community Services Block Grant – America’s commitment to putting tax dollars back into communities to strengthen the economic security of families. Community Action Agencies have the expertise and dedication it takes to serve families and communities best.

Nonprofit organizations like CSO embody our nation’s spirit of hope, change people’s lives, and improve communities. They:

  • Connect individuals and families to approaches that help them succeed – including quality education programs for children, job searching or retraining for adults, stable and affordable housing for families, utility assistance for seniors, and so much more.

  • Promote community-wide solutions to seemingly stubborn challenges throughout our cities, suburbs, and in rural areas– whether it’s food insecurity, the lack of affordable housing or the need to promote economic growth that benefits all families.

  • Share expertise with national, state, and local leaders looking for evidence on what works to promote greater economic opportunity for children and families.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964

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