lang="en" xml:lang="en" Bureau of Community Services Who We Are
Division of Community Action Agencies Iowa Department of Human Services William J. Brand, Administrator
Bureau of Community Services
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Iowa's Community Action Agencies
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Bureau of Community Services:
Who We Are

What is Community Action? What are community action agencies?

In 1964, Community Action was introduced with the enactment of the Economic Opportunity Act. The Act was the centerpiece of the "War on Poverty", and was a major thrust of the "Great Society" legislative agenda of the Lyndon Johnson administration. The ambitious purpose of the Economic Opportunity Act was to mobilize the human and financial resources of the nation to combat the causes and consequences of poverty in the United States.

The Economic Opportunity Act developed and provided funding for a nationwide network of community action agencies. Community action agencies create, coordinate, and deliver an array of comprehensive programs and services to people living in poverty. These programs and services reduce conditions of poverty, revitalize communities, and enable low-income families and low-income individuals to secure opportunities needed for them to become self-sufficient. Today, there are more than 1,100 community action agencies throughout the United States.

Community action agencies are private nonprofit and public organizations. They are governed by a uniquely structured tripartite volunteer board of directors, comprised equally of elected public officials, private sector representatives, and low-income representatives. This structure is designed to promote the participation of the entire community in assessing local needs and attacking the causes and conditions of poverty.

“The Promise of Community Action”

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.

What is the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)?

The CSBG is a Federal block grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS distributes the CSBG funds to States and local communities, working through a network of community action agencies and other neighborhood-based organizations, for the reduction of poverty, the revitalization of low-income communities, and the empowerment of low-income families and individuals in rural and urban areas to become fully self-sufficient.

The purpose of Iowa’s CSBG program is to support community action agencies and other community based organizations efforts to assist low-income families and individuals with basic energy, food, shelter needs, and working towards achieving self-sufficiency.

Who administers Iowa’s Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program?

The Division of Community Action Agencies (DCAA), located within the Iowa Department of Human Rights, is the focal point for community action agency activities within Iowa government. The DCAA exists to develop and expand the capacity at the community level to assist families and individuals to achieve economic and social self-sufficiency, and to ensure that the basic needs of Iowa's low-income population are met.
The DCAA is comprised of the Bureau of Community Services, the Bureau of Energy Assistance, and the Bureau of Weatherization. The Bureau of Community Services administers Community Services Block Grant (CSBG).

How are Iowa’s Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds used?

The Bureau of Community Services distributes CSBG funds to Iowa’s 18 community action agencies, which create, coordinate, and deliver many programs, services, and activities to low-income Iowans. The CSBG program funds the central management and core activities of these agencies. The agencies use the funds to mobilize additional public and private resources to combat the central causes of poverty in their communities and to assist low-income individuals to achieve self-sufficiency and ensure their basic needs are met.

Iowa's community action agencies use CSBG funding to help low-income Iowans:

  • Remove obstacles and solve problems that block the achievement of self-sufficiency;
  • Secure and retain meaningful employment;
  • Attain an adequate education;
  • Make better use of available income;
  • Obtain and maintain adequate housing and a suitable living environment;
  • Obtain emergency assistance to meet the immediate and urgent family needs;
  • Achieve greater participation in the affairs of communities; and
  • Address the needs of youth in low-income communities.

Lucas State Office Building, 321 E. 12th Street, 2nd Floor, Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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