Celebrating 60 Years of Community Action

“The members of The Community Action Partnership are the dedicated men and women who have worked tirelessly to end poverty in our country.”
Sargent Shriver | Washington, DC | September 3, 2004

Our Quote of the Week acknowledges the role of Community Action agencies in addressing the scarcity of economic resources and opportunities in low- and moderate-income communities across the United States.

To mark Community Action month, we’re reflecting on the legacy of Community Action agencies, which were established as part of the Office of Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) of 1964. The role of these agencies was, and continues to be, to develop strategies to focus on issues related poverty at a local level, ensuring that the resources and solutions offered within an agency address the needs of the local community. From providing job skills training and housing assistance to assisting with payments for heating bills and unexpected automotive expenses, the agencies meet the specific needs of local ctizens.

In this week’s speech, we encounter an 88-year-old Sargent Shriver praising the work of Community Action staff and volunteers 40 years after he had overseen the creation of the agencies. His words remind us of his motivation for conceiving of an approach to combating poverty that involved the involvement of the entire community, of “maximum feasible participation":

“In my vision of America, everyone is necessary, and everyone has the opportunity to participate. We must create:--

An America in which the concept of ‘working poor’ is an anachronism.

An America that allows an individual to work full time and earn the money to raise a family and live in safe, decent, affordable housing.

An America where an individual is able to afford access to the highest quality of health care this nation is capable of providing.

An America that strengthens our social safety net for children, the elderly and the most vulnerable among us.

An America of equal opportunity, and the strength to repair the errors of the past.

An America where neighbors help neighbors, and we seek a balance in our lives between our commitments to self, family, community, nation and the world.”

As we continue anti-poverty work in 2024, may we learn from the Community Action model, and focus on strategies that are local, customized and inclusive.

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Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.
Sargent Shriver
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