America’s Poverty Fighting Network

The federal Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 created the Community Action Network of national and local organizations that connect millions of people, with low and moderate incomes, to essential services. The network works to build community resiliency and help people move out of poverty.  

U.S. History


President Lyndon Johnson signs the Economic Opportunity Act establishing community action agencies and programs


Donald Rumsfeld, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, issues OEO Instruction 6320-1 establishing the mission and the model of community action. The emphases are on family, agency and community.

  • “Family – “to stimulate a better focusing of all available local, state, private and Federal resources upon the goal of enabling low-income families in rural and urban areas to secure the opportunities needed for them to become self-sufficient.”
  • Community – “to make the entire community more responsive to the needs and interests of the poor by mobilizing resources …effectiveness is measured by the improvements and changes it achieves in the community’s attitudes and practices toward the poor and in the allocation and focusing of public and private resources for antipoverty purposes.”
  • Agency – “It should establish realistic, attainable objectives, consistent with the basic mission established in this Instruction and expressed in concrete terms which permit the measurement of results. Given the size of the poverty problem and its own limited resources, the CAA should concentrate its efforts on one or two major objectives where it can have the greatest impact.”


Community Service Act replaces Economic Opportunity Act


Community Service Act replaced by Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) Act. State offices now installed as recipients of the Block Grant funding and therefore as intermediaries for local Community Action Agencies. States given responsibility for submitting “community action plans” to identify how funding will be distributed to local agencies, and for assuring that the local agencies were meeting identified community anti- poverty needs


Congress passes Government Performance and Results Act to improve Federal program effectiveness and public accountability by promoting a new focus on results, service quality and customer satisfaction


Amendment to CSBG Act established six national goals and outcome measures by which community action agencies will be measured:

  • Low-income people become more self-sufficient (Family)
  • Conditions in which low-income people live are improved (Community)
  • Low-income people own a stake in their community (Community)
  • Partnerships among supporters and providers of services to low-income people are achieved (Agency)
  • Agencies increase their capacity to achieve results (Agency)
  • Low-income people, especially vulnerable populations, achieve their potential by strengthening family and supportive systems (Family)


Office of Community Services Introduces ROMA – Results-Oriented Management and Accountability. It is defined as a performance-based initiative designed to preserve the anti- poverty focus of community action and promote greater effectiveness among state and local agencies receiving CSBG funds.


CSBG Act Reauthorized by Congress, ROMA identified as the comprehensive performance-based management system to be implemented across the entire community services network of community action agencies.


The Office of Community Services issues an Information Memo instructing State Offices and CSBG eligible entities to implement ROMA, identifying Core Activities required of both State recipients of the Block Grant and local Eligible Entities who ultimately receive the funding. Then Director of the Division of State Assistance commented, “The goals convey the unique strengths that the broader concept of Community Action brings to the Nation’s anti-poverty efforts.”


Implementation of National Indicators of Community Action Performance, developed by the National Association of State Community Service Programs.


The Office of Management and Budget releases a new Performance Progress Reporting Form to collect performance information from recipients of Federal funds. The ROMA Logic Model is included in the PPR.


The Office of Community Services develops a national strategic approach to implement the Obama administration’s focus on the following objectives:

  • Emphasis on place-based services to address causes and impacts of poverty
  • Increased accountability for performance
  • Promotion of evidence-based practices to achieve results.


Working through its network of State agencies and the national Community Action Partnership, Office of Community Services prepares to issue new performance measures for community action agencies, state partners and updated ROMA outcome measures.

Minnesota History


The Minnesota Legislature passes legislation creating the Minnesota Indian Affairs Commission (today known as the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council).


The Minnesota Office of Economic Opportunity is created and by year-end nearly all Minnesota counties are served by a newly formed Community Action Agency (CAA).


Sponsored by Rep. Al Quie (R-MN), Congress passes the Quie Amendment stipulating that one-third of CAA governing boards be composed of elected officials, one-third private sector/business representatives, and the remaining one-third be people/members of the public with low incomes. The Green Amendment also passes, stipulating that local elected officials have authority to designate the official CAA for their area.


The Minnesota CAA Executive Directors form the Minnesota CAP Directors Association.


The Minnesota CAP Directors Association is reorganized into the Minnesota CAP Association.


The Minnesota Legislature provides the first state funding for Community Action Agencies. This was done in part to help meet the match requirements of the federal OEO funding program.


Minnesota responds to the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) Act by passing the Minnesota Community Action Program Act, the first state Community Action legislation in the country.