The Community Action movement has national reach and dates back to 1964, when the Economic Opportunities Act was passed as a part of Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty. The Act established the Office of Economic Opportunity, a federal office charged with the mission of uncovering and eliminating the causes and effects of economic poverty.

Economic Opportunity Offices were created in each state, and in turn ushered in a new kind of community-based organization, called Community Action Partnerships. The Office of Economic Opportunity no longer exists, but Community Action Partnerships throughout the nation continue to thrive. Community Action Partnerships are now funded by federal money in the form of grants, or through the states, as in Community Service Block Grant funds. That federal money is also coupled with additional funds from states and local communities. Today, there are approximately 1,000 Community Action Partnerships serving the poor in every state as well as Puerto Rico and the Trust Territories.

The following is an excerpt from

The CAP Network: Community Action Partnerships Across America

The service areas of Community Action Partnerships (CAPs) cover 96 percent of the nation's counties.* Our agencies are connected by a national network that includes the Community Action Partnership national association, regional associations, state associations, a national lobbying organization, and a national association of Community Service Block Grant administrators.

CAPs are a primary source of direct support for the more than 34.5 million people who live in poverty in the United States.** The majority of CAP program participants are extremely poor, with incomes below 75 percent of the federal poverty threshold, or $9,735 for a family of three (the average family size for the client population).*

The Community Action Network serves approximately:
* 11 million individuals per year *
* 3.3 million families per year *

CAPs serve all regions and populations:
* 54% of CAPs serve rural areas.
* 36% of CAPs serve areas considered both urban and rural.
* 10% of CAPs serve urban areas.

The average population of CAP serves is approximately 300,000 people. The average number of low-income people within each service area is 37,600.

* Source: The National Association for State Community Services Programs.
** Source: Census Bureau
Other figures obtained through a 1998 survey of CAPs. Response rate: 37 percent.

Board, Staff, and Volunteers

CAP boards of directors have a unique composition of:

* at least one-third members from the low-income community
* exactly one-third public officials
* up to one-third members from the private sector

* The average size of a CAP board is: 25 people
* The typical size of the partnership staff is: 115 full-time equivalent workers
* On average each CAP has: 813 people volunteering at the agency each year