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History of Community Action

President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 Did you know Community Action agencies were created back in 1964, and the original idea came from a statewide poverty alleviation plan by our own North Carolina Governor, Terry Sanford? The full history of community action is literally hundreds of pages long, but today, let’s look at a brief timeline of community action.

  • 1963 – The North Carolina Fund was established by Governor Terry Sanford to address statewide poverty and was later used by President Lyndon B. Johnson as a model for Community Action Agencies.

  • 1963 – Prior to his death, President John F. Kennedy outlines a plan to eradicate poverty. 

  • 1964 – Upon Kennedy’s death, President Lyndon B. Johnson carries on Kennedy’s vision by declaring an “unconditional war on poverty” in his first State of the Union address.

  • 1964 – President Johnson signs the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 which established a variety of anti-poverty initiatives including Head Start, Job Corps, Vista, Neighborhood Youth Corps, Adult Job Training, and Community Action Agencies. 

  • 1970 – The Mission and the Model: The issuance of OEO Instruction 6320-1 established the mission and the model (family, agency, and community) of Community Action.

  • 1974 – The Economic Opportunity Act was terminated in 1973 and replaced with the Community Service Act of 1974.

  • 1981– The Community Service Act was replaced by the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) Act of 1981.

  • 1993 – Congress passed the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) in response to a renewed emphasis on accountability.

  • 1994 – Six National Goals for Community Action were created.

  • 1996 – ROMA was applied on the local level.

  • 1998 – Reauthorization of the CSBG Act.

  • 2005 – Implementation of the National Indicators of community action performance.

  • 2006 – The ROMA Cycle was developed.

  • 2009 – The Obama administration renewed focus on results and issued the Performance Progress Reporting Form (PPR).

  • 2011 – Congress passed the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) in response to a renewed emphasis on accountability.

  • 2015 – The Organizational Standards were launched on Oct. 1, 2015 to provide additional performance management.

What started as a small statewide initiative has turned into a nationwide, 1000+ agency strong poverty fighting network. Nationwide, we have helped millions upon millions of people in all 50 states and our agencies cover almost every single county in the United States. Statewide, our network is 33 strong and we have helped hundreds of thousands of people to date! We are proud to be just one part of this 50+ year crusade and look forward to helping hundreds of thousands of more people.

Join Us!

  • 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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