Community Action Agencies (CAAs, also known as Community Action Programs or CAPs) are private, non-profit human service and advocacy organizations that were established by Congress and the President in 1964 to fight poverty by opening the doors to self-sufficiency.

Since their inception as part of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, Community Action Agencies have helped low-income Americans escape poverty and achieve economic security. Through programs such as Head Start, job training, housing, food banks, energy assistance, and financial education, Community Action Agencies tailor their services to meet the needs of the individuals and communities they serve. They put a human face on poverty, advocate for those who don’t have a voice, and provide opportunities. Today there are more than 1,000 Community Action Agency’s in existence, working in every state in the United States.

See how #CommunityActionWorks for you, for Massachusetts, for your neighbors, and for the future.

What is MASSCAP?

The Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP) is the statewide association of the 23 Community Action Agencies (CAAs) operating in Massachusetts. Through the combined skills and vision of its members, MASSCAP works to enhance the ability of each agency to better serve its clients.

MASSCAP also works with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development and other state agencies to open doors to economic prosperity for low-income Massachusetts residents.

How do CAA Boards represent their communities?

Each CAA is anchored in the community by a Board of Directors made up in equal parts by low-income people, members of the business community, and local public officials. The Board of Directors sets the goals and policies for the agency.

How are CAAs funded?

Core funding for CAAs comes from the federal Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program. CSBG funds are allocated to the state’s housing agency and then distributed to each CAA. CSBG enables CAAs to implement a variety of support services, programs to promote self-sufficiency, and training in advocacy skills.

CAAs also receive funds from other federal sources, the state, and private contributors. A large portion of these resources are leveraged by CSBG funds. CAAs are also among the most cost-effective and innovative service and training agencies in the state, devoting less than 10 percent of resources to administration, leaving 90 percent of resources for programs.

STATEMENT FROM WCAC

In the wake of the murder of Mr. George Floyd, we are still searching for words adequate to express our disgust and horror over the actions of those responsible for his death; our deep sadness for Mr. Floyd’s family, friends and community; and our anger over the repeated dehumanizing and fatal oppressive actions that threaten our nation. On behalf of the Worcester Community Action Council, we unequivocally condemn the police brutality that led to Mr. Floyd’s death. We join the call for justice, unity, peace and reform.

Worcester Community Action Council is directly and indirectly affected by the tragic events in our country that have reopened wounds that were never healed.  Our board of directors, staff and clients feel the impact of these events in deeply personal ways, and struggle with the feelings of fear, mistrust, separation, and anger.  We stand together in solidarity with the thousands of peaceful demonstrators across the country who are demanding justice for Mr. Floyd and an end to the systemic and intentional acts of oppression imposed upon communities of color.  George Floyd is now among countless, precious Black lives lost due to the imbalance of power in this country that has been perpetuated by racism.  Systemic racism must end.  We must hold ourselves accountable as allies to act as a relentless force for positive change.

Community Action was created in 1964 from the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement as part of the federal Economic Opportunity Act in the “War on Poverty”. In our role in the community, WCAC must renew and strengthen our calls for an end to the poverty and inequity that threaten our society.

We will be a strong voice against injustice, oppression and hate by advocating for policies that create equitable access to education, health, social and economic systems.

We will continue to work to stabilize individuals and households through our programs while deepening our resolve to create economic self-sufficiency through financial building blocks.

We will continue our leadership role in the City of Worcester’s Safe and Successful Youth Initiative in partnership with the Worcester Police Department and Worcester Public Schools, recognizing youth employment and education are pathways for success.

We will continue to invest resources in our youngest children across Southern Worcester County from ages zero to five as we help prepare them for long-term success in school and life.

We will use our agency’s purchasing power to support African American, Latinx and Immigrant- owned businesses by purchasing goods and services.

We will support a diverse staff at all levels to work within our own agency staff to examine, change and navigate ourselves and our community into a just and equitable era.

We will listen to the needs of our community and routinely shift our work to address these needs directly.

We will partner with you, and like-minded organizations, to support initiatives that help our community heal, unify, and become stronger.

Together, we can make meaningful reforms, and change the course of the future for our children.

Signed,

Marybeth Campbell, Executive Director                    Noreen Johnson Smith, WCAC Board Chair

Statement endorsed by WCAC Board of Directors 6/2/2020