The history of Community Action is based on the humanitarian principles that form a bedrock value of the American experience that we all have responsibility for helping people to overcome barriers and to share in the benefits of living in a free and equal society. In 1964, the U.S. Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) as a companion to the Civil Rights Act, which guaranteed equal opportunity for all, and so began a set of federal initiatives known as the “War on Poverty.” The EOA provided a direct infusion of federal funds to local communities and called for “maximum feasible participation” of people with lower incomes in the process of identifying problems and developing strategies for achieving economic stability and prosperity. To carry out this endeavor at the local level, more than 1,000 community-based organizations, called Community Action Agencies (CAAs) were created. These CAAs were charged with coordinating federal funds and other resources and engaging citizens in the labor of “opening to everyone, the opportunity for education and training, the opportunity to work, and the opportunity to live in decency and dignity” (EOA, 1964).
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