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Are We Winning the War on Poverty?

Where the War on Poverty Started

In 1963, NC Governor Terry Sanford launched a statewide anti-poverty program to address the systematic causes of poverty in North Carolina. This initiative, called the NC Fund, was planned to run from 1963-1968.

The NC Fund was the nation’s first anti-poverty initiative. It is the model that President Lyndon B. Johnson used when he declared war on poverty and initiated the Community Action Program under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. There are now 1000 Community Action agencies across the United States, all with the same purpose: to end poverty.

How Are We Doing? 

Research done by the Urban Institute found that the poverty rate in 1967 was about 26% and dropped to 16% in 2012. Although we have seen a steady decrease in poverty since the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, there is still a ways to go. 

The nation’s poverty rate averages about 13.1%. North Carolina’s poverty rate was 14.1% in 2018. This means that in the last 60 years, the poverty rates have dropped by about 12% - nearly half of what it used to be. But, current poverty guidelines are antiquated as they do not consider the basic living expenses required for modern life. The Center of Budget and Policy Priorities argues “The poverty line should also capture rising living standards, as items that were once unavailable — such as a computer and internet service — become minimum requirements of acceptable living (and increasingly important for finding and retaining a job).”

However, with the aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic it’s likely we will see the poverty rate rise as many businesses close and jobs are lost. Although it is disheartening to see so much progress lost, we are confident that we can still win this war on poverty. The methods and strategies developed by Community Action and like organizations has worked in the past and will continue to work in the future. Together, we’ll grow and make more progress.

Want to Help?

  • Donate | We use your money to help run our programs, and provide training that helps organizations and individuals make their way to self-sufficiency. You can donate on our web page or find an agencies local to you.

  • Volunteer | We can’t do this alone. Join us! Find one of our agencies in your county and check out their website for volunteer opportunities.

  • Become a Member | Did you know you can become a Community Action Member? Membership provides discounted tickets to our various events, an inside look into our organization and more. Membership fees start at only $25 a year for an individual, or $300 for an agency.

  • Partner with Us | We are humbled by the many non-profit and for-profit organizations that partner with us to bring services, educations and events to North Carolina. If your organization is looking for a non-profit to partner with, please consider us. Email us at We would love to hear from you!

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