Cumberland Community Action Program News

Corporate - Historical Data

What is Community Action?

Shortly before President Kennedy’s assassination, he had begun to engage economic advisors to address the problem of American poverty. Continuing this work, Johnson called for an unconditional war to defeat poverty during his initial State of the Union Address during 1964. Thus began the War on Poverty movement to improve the lives of all Americans, regardless of their economic circumstances. President Johnson promised to encourage equal opportunity for all by enacting several comprehensive changes within the federal government. The Economic Opportunity Act was signed into law the fall of that year, thereby establishing the Community Action Network across the nation. The Economic Opportunity Act included the following initiatives:

  • Head Start
  • Job Corps
  • Work-Study program for university students
  • VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America)
  • Neighborhood Youth Corps
  • Basic education and adult job training
  • CAPs (Community Action Programs)

According to the Community Action Partnership, the service areas of Community Action Agencies (CAAs) cover some 96 percent of counties in all US states. Connected by a national network that includes the Community Action Partnership national association, regional associations, state associations, a national lobbying organization, and a national association of Community Service Block Grant administrators, CAAs are each independently operated private human service non-profit organizations.

Currently, more than 34 million residents in the United States rely on CAAs as the primary direct support agency to keep them “on their feet.” The Community Action Partnership asserts that “the majority of CAA program participants are extremely poor, with incomes below 75 percent of the federal poverty threshold, or $9,735 for a family of three (the average family size for the client population).” For more information on CAAs and their history, please visit

Executive Directors/CEO

  • Mr. Ed Hamilton 1964-1967
  • Mr. John Murray 1967-1969
  • Mr. William Bowser 1969-1973
  • Mr. Kenneth Smith 1973- 2005
  • Ms. Cynthia Wilson 2005- current

Previous Programs

  • Neighborhood Youth Corps
  • Senior Opportunities & Services
  • Neighborhood Service Centers
  • Information and Referral Services Directory
  • Summer Youth Feeding Program
  • Community & Backyard Gardens
  • Certified Day Care Homes
  • Rural Community Water System
  • Environmental Research Project
  • Community Action Partnership Program
  • Neighborhood Clean-up Campaign
  • Transportation for the Elderly
  • Aid to Victimized Elderly
  • Conversion of Hot Water Heaters into Wood Burning Stoves
  • SHARE – Heart of the Carolinas
  • Urgent Repair Program