Massachusetts Association for Community Action
Road to Opportunity: Finding the Way Forward
Everyone's story is unique.
So is Community Action.
- There are 23 Community Action Agencies in MA serving the entire state - approximately 600,000 through +100 different services.
- Public programs (programs CAAs run and refer to) help keep more than 920,000 people in MA from poverty annually.
- We are part of a national network of +1,000 Agencies serving +15M low-income individuals.
- Community Action Agencies have been helping people for almost 55 years - formed during President Lyndon B. Johnson's "war on poverty" through the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.
- Community Action Agencies (CAAs) are governed by Tripartite Boards made up in equal parts by low-income people, members of the business community, and local public officials.
- Community Action Agencies conduct comprehensive community needs assessments every three years that drive the strategic planning process: We are doing this now!
More information and access the data: Obstacles on the Road to Opportunity: Finding a Way Forward, May 2018
Learn more! Watch our webinar – What We All Need to Know About Poverty in Massachusetts – featuring report author, Nancy Wagman, Kids Count Director, MassBudget.
Learn more in our NEW 2018 Annual Report.
The state support and funding for policies and programs that create opportunity is critical.
We advocate for policies that:
- Strengthen Families through Affordable and Accessible Early Education and Care
- Bridge the Wage Gap
- Create a Foundation for Economic Opportunity
- Strengthen the Critical Human Services Infrastructure
Learn about MASSCAP’s public policy priorities.
It is incumbent upon the Community Action network to bring people together and talk about poverty, inequality and how to create opportunities. MA is one of the most unequal states in the country. We must not accept inequity and we must work to make the economy work for everyone.
In October, together with Citizens for Citizens (Fall River) and PACE (New Bedford), we held a forum on poverty and opportunity and the critical issues we face on the South Coast. Congressman Joe Kennedy told us that "we must fight harder, we must put workers and American families first again." He pointed out that we need to come together to advocate for policies that work and demand systemic reforms, that we not only must come up with solutions together, but must drive the political will to implement them.
MA State Representative Patricia Haddad, who participated in a panel discussion about finding the way forward, told us to "Agitate, Agitate, Agitate" and she promised to do the same. She encouraged us to t ake part in important community conversations and push for change and accountability.
What are the takeaways?
- Education is the great equalizer and it starts at birth. We need to focus on birth to Kindergarten education and care - quality, accessibility, affordability, compensation and training of educators.
- Census 2020 is critical. We must do what we can to ensure everyone is counted. An accurate picture of who we are and key federal program funding (Title 1, Head Start, WIC and more) are at risk.
- We must increase awareness about the available programs and engage parents.
- Business needs to recognize the need to prepare children and make them good citizens. Business needs to be energized and involved in the community conversations.
- We must always ask who is NOT at the table and bring them to it.
In addition to Representative Haddad, our panel discussion included: moderator John Vasconcellos/Community Foundation of Southeastern MA, Nicholas Christ/Baycoast Bank, Ed Lambert/MA Business Alliance for Education, Kerri Denault/Parent & PACE Head Start Policy Council, Jill Fox/PACE Head Start Program Director, and Pam Wildenauer/CFC Head Start Program Director. We thank them all for their participation and the critical work they each do on a daily basis.
Save the date for our Public Policy Briefing on February 5 in Room 428 at MA State House.
Check out our Comprehensive Job Readiness Curriculum Guide. Now an Open Source Document!