This month we celebrate Community Action Month during which we highlight the critical role that our community action agencies (CAAs) have played in creating pathways to opportunity and prosperity for vulnerable families.
For 57 years, CAAs have been trusted leaders working collaboratively with various local, state and national partners to help families escape the harmful grip of poverty and despair. As legacies of the civil rights movement, the 1,000 national CAAs serve 99% percent of the nation’s counties. These agencies operate a plethora of programs and services designed to give struggling families, the elderly, disabled, veterans and citizens returning to their communities from incarceration, the tools, resources, and opportunities needed to lead healthy productive lives.
Economic growth is the key to eliminating poverty, and equity across all communities brings the same benefits to the poor as to the non-poor. With escalating national protests calling for justice, how do we create an equitable playing field where all citizens can prosper and feel safe?
As community action professionals, we know that in order to thrive vulnerable and disenfranchised families and communities require the same tools, resources and opportunities provided to people who live on the other side of the tracks or the better part of town. A just and equitable society begins when each of us is truly willing to be our brother and sisters’ keeper regardless of race economic status, who their parents are or where they live.
Equity Starts Here—the theme of our awareness campaign for Community Action Month and the premise of our 2021 annual conference, is a personal challenge to each of us to continue our work to create an equitable community so that every individual in North Carolina reaches their full potential without facing unjust barriers. Equity starts here when all families are equipped with the necessary programs, services and resources to move out of poverty.
This month, and throughout the remainder of the year, NCCAA will explore its role in creating a more equitable society. We encourage each of you to join us on this journey…because equity starts here.
We invite you to participate in our Equity Starts Here 21-day challenge. This educational initiative will provide opportunities to learn more about equity, how it applies to the community, and how participants can apply it to their own lives.
We hope you will attend this year’s annual conference May 12-14, focused on enabling and empowering our community action agencies and partners to create a more just community. Presentations, workshops and panel discussions are geared towards fostering engaging conversations so that we can better collaborate towards a shared vision of a more equitable North Carolina.
Over the past six decades, CAAs have had a tremendous impact on reducing the barriers to prosperity for our marginalized populations. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 established a framework within the federal government for combating discrimination. Unfortunately, there’s more work to be done. The ongoing wave of social unrest demands that we rethink how we address the undue, unfair and preventable societal ills to continue our work in strengthening our communities.
May is Community Action Month. Equity Starts Here.
Sharon C. Goodson
Executive Director, NCCAA