About

Community Action Agencies

Northwest Tennessee Economic Development Council, is a private, non-profit community action agency gaining its charter from the Tennessee State Legislature in 1965. Community Action Agencies were the direct result of the initiatives established during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” and his “Great Society” movement in the 1960’s.

Community Action Agencies are a primary source of support for more than 3.1 million people living in poverty in the United States. The majority of CAA clients are extremely poor. Nearly 40% of the families served have incomes below 75% of the federal poverty threshold. CAA Professionals expertly coordinate and integrate an array of services at federal, state and local levels. CAA staff, board, and volunteers use innovative solutions to help people achieve self -sufficiency.

Community Action Agencies are governed by a uniquely structured volunteer board of directors: at least one-third is comprised of representatives from the low-income community; up to one-third is from the private sector; and one-third is local, elected public officials.

In this way, the CAA integrates diverse groups to find the most effective solutions to the problems facing those in need.

Recent surveys reveal that CAAs, as a network, each year serve approximately nine million individuals, and 3.3 million families.

The service area of the average CAA is comprised of approximately 300,000 people, of which 37,600 are low-income people. The Community Action Agency network uses the Community Services Block Grant program for its core operational funding.

More than $531 million in federal and state CSBG appropriations are used each year to support CAA activities.

The Community Action Network

Community Action Agencies are non-profit and public organizations established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to fight America’s War on Poverty. Community Action Agencies help people help themselves in achieving self-sufficiency. Today there are approximately 1,000 Community Action Agencies serving the poor in every state as well as Puerto Rico and the Trust Territories, connected by a national network that includes a national association, regional and state CAA associations, a national lobbying organization, and a National Association of Community Service Block Grant Administrators.

Community Action in Tennessee

The Community Action network plays a significant role in lessening the effects of poverty across the state of Tennessee. The network shares a commitment to helping each client achieve self-sufficiency, but each organization has tailored its programs and priorities to address those needs that are greatest in the local area.Poverty affects one in every ten people living in Tennessee. Community Action Agencies in Tennessee have a history of assisting the poor and near poor, beginning in 1964. Over 100,000 low-income individuals found support and assistance through Tennessee’s Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) programs in 2004, which are operated through a network of 20 Community Action Agencies that geographically encompass the state.