SINCE 1964

In 1964 the Economic Opportunity Act passed with a singular mandate — “to mobilize the human and economic resources of the Nation to combat poverty in the United States.”

Community Action Agency (CAA) goals were defined as “enabling low-income persons to achieve self-sufficiency; that poor people should be provided with opportunities where their efforts would facilitate moving into the mainstream of American life.” For the first time legislation not only defined the need for economic resources; it mandated participatory training to ensure involvement by low-income people in voicing their vision of the future. By the end of 1966, Community Action Agencies were forming nationwide, in both urban and rural areas, answering the call to the unconditional war on poverty.


The Office of Economic Opportunity was established in 1964 to implement the War on Poverty - its first Director was Sargent Shriver. In 1965 Shriver spearheaded the creation and implementation of Head Start. In its first year, it served 850,000 families in an 8 week summer program. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 established a provision for Section 8 Housing Vouchers. That year CAA’s were awarded funds through the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, starting a continued history of CAA funding from multiple Federal agencies. In 1976 the Dept. of Energy established the Weatherization Assistance Program and CAA’s began to implement energy efficiency measures that are today as essential to the health and safety of our residents as it was at its inception. In 1981 Congress established the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) to fund CAA’s nationwide. Although today these funds only represent approximately 10% of CAA budgets, the program serves to provide national unified reporting and measurement. The Government Accounting Office monitors CSBG funds; and in 2000 they reported that CAA’s were effective community agents; reducing duplications and effectively reaching the intended targets of the Economic Opportunity Act. In 2002 the Office of Community Services reported that CAA’s were delivering comprehensive programs and services to approximately one fourth of all people living in poverty in the United States.

Celebrating our 45th Anniversary in 2010

  • Aug 1965 – Head Start Services in Carteret County.
  • July 1967 – Family Planning Program
  • June 1979 – HUD Section 8 services in Carteret County
  • 1981 – Community Services Block Grant Program
  • Aug 1983 – Expanded Head Start services to Craven, Jones and Pamlico Counties.
  • Sept 1985 – Foster Grandparents Program
  • Jan 1988 – Retired Senior Volunteers Program
  • June 1988 – Weatherization Services Program
  • 1992 – Senior Companion Program
  • March 1998 – Carteret Community Action became Coastal Community Action
  • Aug 1999 – Early Head Start Services
  • April 2002 – Single Family Rehabilitation Program
  • 2004 – Urgent Repair Program

The agency is a pivotal community partner in providing support services to more than 3,000 low income, disabled, and/or elderly residents in 9 counties in Eastern North Carolina annually. Today Coastal Community Action works in partnership with over 120 community based organizations and institutions, leveraging resources, coordinating referrals, and actively participating in our community dialogue to reach all our low-income residents.


In order to reduce poverty in its community, a Community Action Agency works to better focus available local, state, private, and federal resources to assist low-income individuals and families to acquire useful skills and knowledge, gain access to new opportunities and achieve economic self-sufficiency.


Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other. 


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A common thread through all of our services, be they Family Services, Senior Services, or Housing Services, is that we help change lives by providing needed resources and support. Coastal Community Action, Inc. provides needed services to thousands of residents in our region annually.