Community action began 50 years ago in the United States as part of the War on Poverty. More than 1,100 local community action agencies across the country now fight poverty and build self-sufficiency, for strong families and communities throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia has 27 non-profit private and public community action agencies.
These agencies receive their core funding from the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and General Assembly appropriated CSBG funds. The Virginia Department of Social Services' Office of Community Services provides oversight for the Virginia Community Action Partnership network.
Community action's mission is to address the issues of poverty and to increase the self-sufficiency of low-income families. They offer a broad range of anti-poverty programs and work collaboratively with businesses and other agencies to build a network of support for Virginia's most vulnerable populations. Some of the CSBG programs are:
- Child care
- Community and economic development
- Head Start
- Health and nutrition
- Housing and related services
- Special populations (including the elderly, ex-offenders and the homeless)
In addition to the local community action agencies, Virginia has three statewide community action organizations. These organizations address specific problems by working through the local community action agencies, local governments or other community organizations. Those statewide programs are:
- Project Discovery, Inc. - dropout prevention and first-time college options
- Southeast Rural Community Assistance Program - water/wastewater
- Virginia Community Action Re-entry System (VaCARES) - ex-offender transition and support