Skip to main content

Mission & History

CAAP empowers Community Action Agencies to solve community problems.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania is to strengthen, advocate for, and empower the state network of Community Action Agencies to effectively address issues of poverty.

Vision Statement

CAAP is recognized by Pennsylvania's policy setting and legislative groups as the authority on issues of poverty, self-sufficiency, and community development.

CAAP Core Values

Compassion.  Honesty.  Reliability.

CAAP Strategic Goals

Goal #1: Diversify revenue sources to include unrestricted funds, donations, planned giving and contributions.

Goal #2: Define and promote the value and return on investment for membership in the CAAP.

Goal #3: Initiate a platform for open dialogue.

Goal #4: Strengthen the role of Community Action agencies in the provision of anti-poverty initiatives.

Community Action Network History

The War on Poverty

The War on Poverty was declared on January 8, 1964, in President Lyndon B. Johnson's State of the Union address in an attempt "to break the cycle of poverty" affecting nearly 35 million Americans. Economic expansion had reduced unemployment to 5.3 percent, but projections showed that 25 percent of young blacks were destined for a life of irregular employment. Johnson, wanting to expand the modest antipoverty program of his predecessor, directed Sargent Shriver to steer the development and passage of an omnibus bill.

Excerpted from LBJ speech at University of Michigan commencement, May 1964:

  • The purpose of protecting the life of our nation and preserving the liberty of our citizens is to pursue the happiness of our people. Our success in that pursuit is the test of our success as a nation.
  • For a century we labored to settle and to subdue a continent. For half a century we called upon unbounded invention and untiring industry to create an order of plenty for all of our people.

Johnson challenged us to create a "Great Society" in the next half century...

  • The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization.
  • Your imagination, your initiative and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.

An end to poverty...

  • The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning.

Johnson proposed an expansion in the federal government's role in domestic policy. During his administration, Congress enacted two major civil-rights acts (1964 and 1965), the Economic Opportunity Act (1964), and two education acts (1965). In addition, legislation was passed that created the Job Corps, Operation Head Start, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), Medicaid, and Medicare. Although the Great Society program made significant contributions to the protection of civil rights and the expansion of social programs, critics increasingly complained that the antipoverty programs were ineffective and wasteful. The economic and political costs of the escalation of the Vietnam War, as well as the costs of these programs themselves, soon overtook Johnson's domestic initiatives.