What is Community Action?

In 1964, the U.S. poverty rate affected 19 percent of Americans. In response to rising political forces demanding change, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a War on Poverty. With the signing of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the newly established White House Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), numerous entities such as Americorps, HeadStart, and the Community Action Program (CAP) was born. These programs aimed to provide services, assistance, and activities to eliminate poverty by developing employment opportunities, improving human performance, and bettering living conditions. 

President-Johnson-signs-the-Economic-Opportunity-Act-of-1964President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964

Local Community Action Agencies (CAAs) became the primary vehicle for combating poverty nationwide when the signing of the Economic Opportunity Act in 1964. Founded in 1966, Concho Valley Community Action Agency, formerly known as the Tom Green Community Action Council, has a nearly six-decade history of providing assistance and promoting self-sufficiency for citizens of limited income. Concho Valley Community Action Agency has been working alongside our communities through impactful serving such as access to safe and affordable housing, financial empowerment and education, reducing energy burden with energy-savings and utility payment programs, educational support, advocacy, and contributing to the economic vitality of the Concho Valley.

Some Key Points that all CAAs share:

  • Maximum Feasible Participation: A controversial feature of the Act required the active involvement of the people directly affected (primarily the poor) in decision-making about how federal funds would be spent in their communities. This challenged long-established power structures and emphasized community engagement. Every three years, CVCAA conducts a Community Needs Assessment where we dig deep and identify the top 5 needs of our communities.
  • Tripartite Board Structure: Each CAA is governed by a board of directors consisting of at least one-third low-income community members, one-third public officials, and up to one-third private sector leaders. This structure ensures representation from diverse perspectives.  For CVCAA, our 15-member board has 5 county judges, 6 individuals representing low-income communities, and 4 individuals from the private sector.
  • Programs and Initiatives: CAAs engage in a broad range of activities, including promoting citizen participation, providing utility bill assistance, home weatherization, housing assistance, and community coordination. In addition to these services, CVCAA provides free tax return preparation, veterans programs, homeless case management, and more in an effort to meet as many needs as possible.

CVCAA is a member of the National Community Action Partnership (NCAP), a network of over 1000 Community Action Agencies.  Collectively, NCAP covers every county of the United States.  CVCAA is also a member of the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies (TACAA).
CVCAA and other Community Action Agencies face multifaceted challenges, but our commitment to empowering communities remains unwavering. By staying adaptable, collaborative, and focused on our mission, we continue to make a positive impact on people’s lives. 

Community Action Agencies continue to connect millions of children and families to greater opportunities, transforming lives and strengthening communities across the nation. CVCAA regularly assists thousands of individuals a year. Our commitment to self-sufficiency and “Helping People Help Themselves and Each Other” remains central to our mission. 

Community Action Agencies are connected by our commitment to 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.

The motto we use to summarize this promise is "Helping People, Changing Lives."