CAAs are a critical source of support for the more than 34.6 million people living in poverty in the United States. A recent survey indicates that 70 percent of families served by CAAs have incomes below the federal poverty threshold - $15,260 for a family of three (the average family size for the CAA client population) in 2003. More than 20 percent are “severely poor,” with incomes below 50 percent of the federal poverty threshold.
CAA professionals create, coordinate, and deliver an array of services at the federal, state, and local levels. CAA staff, board, and volunteers use innovative solutions to help people achieve self-sufficiency.
Community Action Agencies are governed by a uniquely structured, legally mandated volunteer board of directors: at least one-third are representatives from the low-income community; up to one-third are from the private sector; and exactly one-third are local, elected public officials. In this way, CAAs integrate diverse community groups to find the most effective solutions for those in need.
CAAs vary widely in staff and budget size, number of programs, and complexity. They benefit greatly from the use of volunteers. Volunteers annually contribute more than 32 million hours of service to CAAs – the equivalent of more than 15,400 full-time employees.
Data collected from surveys show that CAAs as a network serve:
- More than 13 million individuals a year
- Almost 6 million families per year
- 3.3 million children
- 1.7 million “working poor” families
- 1.3 million single-parent families
The service area of the average CAA is comprised of approximately 300,000 people,of which approximately 37,600 are low-income people.
- 10% of CAAs are located in urban areas.
- 54% of CAAs are located in rural areas.
- 36% of CAAS are located in areas considered both urban and rural.
The CAA network used the Community Services Block Grant as core operational funding.
- More than $562 million in federal and state CSBG appropriations was used to support CAA activities in 2001 (the most recent year for data collection).
- CAAs leveraged more than $8.5 billion in additional resources from federal, state, local, and private sources to fight poverty and change the lives of low-income individuals, families, and communities.