ORIGINS: Community Action was the core implementation mechanism for the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act, which authorized the "War on Poverty," declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It was carried out by a national network of Community Action Agencies (CAAs) governed by a Board consisting equally of representatives of the low-income community, local elected officials, and the local private sector. Its core mission was to eliminate causes of poverty and help families, individuals and their communities in their efforts to become more economically self-sufficient.

TODAY: About 1100 CAAs serve all but 2% of the nation’s counties. Their core, flexible funding is the Community Services Block Grant to the states, but they deliver services and organize community initiatives. They have developed extensive nationwide reporting systems which are supported by their federal agency, the Office of Community Services at the Department of Health and Human Services, managed by the states, who are the grantees of the federal agency, and organized and coordinated by the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP), the formal association of the state mangers of the Block Grant.