Community Action Agencies were established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to fight America’s War on Poverty. In response to this Act, the Greater Erie Anti-Poverty Action Committee, later renamed the Greater Erie Community Action Committee, was incorporated in March 1965.
Through subsequent federal legislation, the concept of war on poverty waned after the 1960′s. Still, the legacy of America’s War on Poverty continued through Community Action Agencies, America’s poverty fighting network. Today there are aproximately 1,000 Community Action Agencies providing services in every state.
Starting with one staff member and a budget of approximately $60,000, GECAC has grown to employ over 400 staff members with a budget that has exceeded $30 million since 2001. Agency programming has evolved over the years from the original programs focusing on Head Start and neighborhood development to the current agency structure of four main operating divisions providing over 40 programs through the Area Agency on Aging; Child Development Division; Education, Training and Community Services Division; and Workforce Development Services Division. Each year, GECAC assists over 50,000 unduplicated clients with resources and opportunities to improve their lives.
We wish that we could say our efforts have eliminated poverty and its causes, but America’s War on Poverty continues. In the City of Erie, over 25% of our families live at or below the poverty level.
Poverty is a community issue that calls for community solutions and community action. As we celebrate many years of helping people and changing lives, we call on the community to work in partnership with us to advance the promise of community action.
Through the power of partnership, we work together to create a community of opportunity for all of our citizens.