Community Action Programs (CAPs) are public-private partnerships, locally managed and controlled by volunteer boards of directors, for the purpose of reducing poverty and promoting self-sufficiency of the poor.
Since their founding under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the network of Community Action Agencies (currently 1,100 agencies) has served both the long-term and the temporary poor, public assistance recipients, the working poor, low-income elderly, adults and children with disabilities, the unemployed, the homeless, and any other population that meets the eligibility criterion of having income at or below 125% of the federal poverty line: (e.g. in 2020 eligibility for a family of four is capped at $32,750 a year).
The philosophy of Community Action provides that, to be responsive to local needs, each program should be as unique as the locality it serves. Thus, although the mission of Community Action is to fight poverty and increase self-sufficiency among the poor, the programs and services provided vary based upon the needs identified at the local level.
CAPs receive core support from the Federal Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). Virginia CAPs also receive supplemental core funding from the Virginia General Assembly. CAPs use these core dollars as the foundation for all of the Federal, State, and local programs which they operate and as seed money for the development of new initiatives. Core funding is the "glue" that holds Community Action Programs together, providing administrative and program support, and paying for needed services when other funding is inadequate or unavailable.
Community Action Programs are flexible. They quickly implement new initiatives and readily integrate new programs. CAPs are accessible and user-friendly. They are effective in reaching and relating to low-income people. After more than three decades of operation, CAPs are recognized and established community catalysts, able to bring together organizations and mobilize local resources to address the problems of the poor and the multiple and diverse issues associated with poverty.