About Us

Community Action is based on the principle that local control can best provide for sustainable community development, as well as the now-familiar notion that a “hand up” is preferable to a “handout.” Some aid programs provide only short-term assistance; leaving recipients temporarily out of harm’s way, but without the skills and resources needed to break the cycle of poverty, be self-sufficient, and achieve financial independence. But Community Action is different.

Community Action organizations put power in the hands of impoverished and struggling people, providing local direction so that citizens can decide how to best meet the needs of their community. The Community Action Program dates back to 1964 when it was included in the Economic Opportunity Act under President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Since then, more than 1,000 Community Action Agencies (CAAs) have been founded in the United States, serving more than 97% of counties. The primary source of federal funding for CAAs is the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG).

The Merced County Community Action Agency started providing services in Merced County in 1965 under the name the Dos Palos Poverty Fighters. That small grassroots program has now evolved into the Merced County Community Action Agency. The Agency provides services, through approximately 13 service programs, annually to over 50,000 unduplicated citizens in every town within Merced County. The Agency continues to expand in order to support areas of need in the county and beyond, eliminating the plight of poverty for thousands of county residents.


Learn more by reading the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964