May is National Community Action Awareness Month, and 2014 is particularly special because it is the 50th Anniversary of the “War on Poverty”. President Lyndon B. Johnson brought up the concept of a “War on Poverty” in his first State of the Union address on January 8, 1964. Below are a few key excerpts from his speech. For the full speech, go to http://www.lbjlibrary.net/collections/selected-speeches/november-1963-1964/01-08-1964.html
“Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope—some because of their poverty, and some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity.
This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. I urge this Congress and all Americans to join with me in that effort. It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime.
Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the State and the local level and must be supported and directed by State and local efforts.
For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House.”
The Johnson Administration sent a draft of the Economic Opportunity Act to Congress on March 16, 1964. President Johnson said: “because it is right, because it is wise, and because, for the first time in our history, it is possible to conquer poverty, I submit, for the consideration of the Congress and the country, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.”
And he discussed the creation of Community Action programs: “…through a new Community Action program we intend to strike at poverty at its source—in the streets of our cities and on the farms of our countryside among the very young and the impoverished old. This program asks men and women throughout the country to prepare long-range plans for the attack on poverty in their own local communities. These are not plans prepared in Washington and imposed upon hundreds of different situations. They are based on the fact that local citizens best understand their own problems, and know best how to deal with those problems.”
Over 1,000 CAAs exist across the nation and there are seven in the state of North Dakota which serve all 53 counties. The cohesive mission is to provide programs and services that empower low-income individuals and families to become self-sufficient. Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. CAAs care about the entire community and are dedicated to helping people help themselves and help each other. North Dakota Community Action Partnership (NDCAP) was established in 1976 as a vehicle to enhance the capacity and program service delivery of the seven CAAs in North Dakota.
For nearly fifty years, the North Dakota CAAs have been providing programs and services that empower low-income individuals and families to become self-sufficient. The CAAs all provide a myriad of programs to uphold their purpose of eradicating poverty. Services include, but are not limited to: Head Start and Childcare, Client Education Programs, Emergency Assistance, Financial and Legal Services, Energy Conservation Programs, Food Programs, Health and Housing Services, Prevention and Self-Sufficiency Program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Weatherization, and Youth Services.
Please join us in celebrating Community Action Month and the positive impact Community Action Agencies have had in North Dakota!
For more information on Community Action Agencies in North Dakota please visit: www.capnd.org