May is Community Action Month

There are several reasons why there is a month dedicated to Community Action and the estimated 1,000 community action agencies in the United States, Community Action Agencies “help people to help themselves" and "they are incredible non-profit agencies that are dedicated to the noble cause of addressing poverty."  They do get incredible results that help people to stand on their own and their programs for kids help break inter-generational poverty.

Community Action Agencies (CAAs) are nonprofit private and public organizations established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to fight America's War on Poverty. Community Action Agencies 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.

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). 

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

What CAAs Do

Because each CAA is governed locally and because each bases their programs and services upon a local needs assessment, each agency provides a different mix of programs and services.

Here in Michigan, we have 29 Community Action Agencies. Northeast Michigan Community Action Agency (NEMCSA) operates on a budget of over 50 million.  Last year, our agency helped 2,836 children receive early childhood services and 8,552 households received food boxes.  Over 600,000 meals were provided to senior & homebound individuals, and 336,537 hours were denoted to the programs.  As a result of programs targeting community development and poverty like Head Start, food banks, energy assistance, weatherization, and low-income housing NEMCSA is making a difference in the lives of our friends, neighbors and family members that are struggling with economic insecurity every day.

We want you and/or your organization to be part of this extraordinary effort to address poverty.  Just as there are multiple ways to help children and families and lift people out of poverty, there are multiple ways for you or your organization to get engaged with your local agency or with state level advocacy and education.  We would welcome you to join us in helping people help themselves.  To learn more visit www.nemcsa.org and let's make a difference together!