Community Action Agencies (CAA) are local private and public non-profit organizations that promote self-sufficiency, and work to reduce the causes and conditions of poverty in the communities they serve. They were founded as a part of the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act to fight poverty by empowering the poor as part of the War on Poverty.
The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) is the agencies’ core federal funding, which CAAs use to support a variety of anti-poverty programs, including other federal and state-funded programs Those programs vary widely among agencies, since CAAs plan and implement their programs based on the specific needs of their local communities.
Each CAA is governed by a board of directors consisting of at least one-third low-income community members, one-third public officials, and up to one-third private sector leaders. This board structure is defined by federal statute and is known as a tripartite board.
There are 22 designated CAAs in the Indiana serving all 92 counties with CSBG and other programs.
COMMUNITY SERVICE BLOCK GRANT (CSBG)
CSBG is a federally funded block grant that CAAs use to help low-income individuals and families achieve the following goals:
- Increased self-sufficiency o Improved living conditions
- Ownership of and pride in their communities
- Strong family and support systems
CSBG is NOT a program that individuals can apply to for direct funding or assistance. CSBG funding is used by CAAs to support other services, which have more specific program goals. CSBG-funded services that are provided by CAAs include but are not limited to:
- Employment and job skills training
- Food and nutrition assistance
- Child development programs, including Head Start and center-based day care
- Individual and family self-sufficiency initiatives
- Youth development
- Fuel and energy assistance
- Domestic violence prevention, counseling and emergency assistance
- Emergency assistance such as, temporary shelter, food, medical assistance, clothing, conflict resolution
- Affordable housing and homeownership opportunities
- Assistance to homeless and “at-risk” families and individuals
- Transportation assistance
The most common programs that CAAs operate include the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides utility benefits and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which increases a home’s energy efficiency.