Image by Daniel McCullough

History

What is Community Action?

In 1964, The Great Society, as envisioned by President Lyndon Johnson, was a sweeping plan to improve the lives of all Americans, regardless of their circumstances. Inspired by President Kennedy and his New Frontier, Johnson pledged to fulfill his promise of equal opportunity for all by enacting several comprehensive changes within the federal government. In August of that same year, the Economic Opportunity Act was signed into law by President Johnson creating the nationwide Community Action Network.

The War on Poverty

In 1963, shortly before he was assassinated, President Kennedy had asked his economic advisors to draw up some proposals to address the problem of American poverty. Johnson took up this charge after he succeeded Kennedy as President. In Johnson’s first State of the Union address on June 8, 1964, he called for an unconditional war to defeat poverty. He expanded and revised the proposals given to Kennedy and developed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The act included a variety of initiatives:

  1. Head Start

  2. Job Corps

  3. Work-Study program for university students

  4. VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) – a domestic version of the Peace Corps

  5. Neighborhood Youth Corps

  6. Basic education and adult job training

  7. CAPS (Community Action Programs) CAPS were a radical departure from how government had run most social reform programs in the past, as it proposed the “maximum feasible participation” by low-income people themselves to determine what would help them the most. 

Community Action equips low-income citizens with the tools and potential for becoming self-sufficient. The structure of programming is unique – federal dollars are used locally to offer specialized programming in communities. It is a coordinated effort to address the root effects of poverty and to, ultimately, move families and individuals to self-sufficiency. In the first 10 years of the creation of the CAP/CAA system, the U.S. poverty rate dropped to 11.1 percent, a 7.9 percent decrease, and the lowest it would be between 1959 and 2004. Conservative politics reduced funding for CAP/CAA between the 1980’s through the administration of the early 2000’s, and saw a mostly stagnant decrease in the federal poverty level. Funding increased 27% from 2009 - 2010 and 33% from 2006 - 2010. Since 2010, the federal poverty level had steadily decreased to its 30-year low of 10.5% by 2019. This work is not easy and demand is always shifting and changing. Our own agency has undergone drastic change in the last two years to accurately reflect the intent of community action, and deliver on its promise. JobSource is defined as a hands up program for low-income individuals who are able and willing to work to elevate themselves and their situation.

JobSource as a Community Action Agency

JobSource is a multi-dimensional organization recognized as both a Community Action Agency and a non-profit service provider. For over 40 years, JobSource has been supporting people as they pursue a better life and brighter future for their families. Our programs target two-generation households in order to disrupt the cycle of inherited poverty. We seek to positively impact everyone in the home and provide support and eliminate barriers to growth for each person, at any age. We provide access to education, tutoring, talent development and essential household support to individuals and families who are striving to build better lives. JobSource empowers people through a variety of programs that are designed to remove barriers to change. By understanding and using all resources available to our families, we can remove all the barriers possible so participants can focus on their education, family, and future.

Transforming JobSource

Doug Eckerty was brought on as the Executive Director in 2019 to bring about major change and improvement to the agency. The goal was to bring transformational programming to the community in a sustainable way. Immediately, JobSource began to create a business plan wherein it would either support effective programming partners in Madison and Grant County, or bring in programming where gaps in services existed. As a result of the stellar performance of every team member, JobSource has experienced unprecedented growth in the last three years, launching three new programs, and earning multiple grants to support the community.

May 2020

FEGAP Launches

September 2020

FEGAP Receives Two Grants

June 2020

JobSource Begins Scholar House Affiliation

January 2021

FEGAP Recognized by IHCDA

May 2021

STAR Receives IDOE Grant and Launches

June 2021

JobSource Becomes Scholar House Affiliate

November 2021

Anderson Scholar House Procures Program Housing

December 2021

STAR Receives Second IDOE Grant 

January 2022

Anderson Scholar House Enrollment is Open

March 2022

STAR Receives Third IDOE Grant