History and Origin

What is Community Action?

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson—inspired by President Kennedy’s New Frontier—envisioned The Great Society: a sweeping plan to improve the lives of all Americans, regardless of their circumstances. In August of that same year, President Johnson had made comprehensive changes to the federal government and signed the Economic Opportunity Act into law, creating the nationwide Community Action Network.

President Johnson signing the EOA, August 1964

The War on Poverty

After President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, President Johnson took up his charge to address the problem of American poverty, and in his first State of the Union address on June 8, 1964, Johnson called for an unconditional war to defeat poverty. He expanded and revised the proposals given by Kennedy and developed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The act included a variety of initiatives:

  1. Head Start
  2. Job Corps
  3. Work-Study program for university students
  4. VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America): a domestic version of the Peace Corps
  5. Neighborhood Youth Corps
  6. Basic education and adult job training
  7. CAPs (Community Action Programs): CAPs turned out to be the most controversial part of the package, as it proposed the “maximum feasible participation” by poor people themselves to determine what would help them the most. CAPs were a radical departure from how the government had run most social reform programs in the past.

The Economic Opportunity Act was innovative legislation, but it received only about $1 billion to divide among the various programs and remained critically underfunded. By 1966, Congress appropriated $4 billion for the programs.

Check out this video of Sargent Shriver and Pastor Billy Graham visiting a North Carolina Community Action Agency in 1965.

Skip ahead about 9 minutes for a riveting discussion on what it really means to help the poor!


This department provides financial literacy classes, one-on-one budgeting sources, free VITA tax preparation and housing stability.

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Asset Building

& Education

The mission of this program is to increase self-sufficiency and develop strategies to ensure a better quality of life through employment and educational opportunities for both youth and adults.

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Employment & Education


Palmetto CAP’s General Emergency Assistance Program (or GEAP) provides financial assistance to households who have encountered an unexpected financial hardship including rental assistance to avoid eviction. Assistance is provided once every 24 months.

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Outreach &
Temporary Assistance

By providing temporary assistance with food, water and shelter, Palmetto CAP’s Outreach department provides vital services to address citizens’ most basic needs. Being able to meet basic needs is the foundation of financial stability.

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Outreach & Temporary Assistance

Schedule an

Palmetto Community Action Partnership is currently accepting appointments for the programs. Eligibility for all programs is subject to program calendars, fund availability, appointment availability, verifiable household income and family size.

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Schedule an Appointment


List of documents that are required, in addition to other eligibility requirements, to complete an application for Palmetto CAP services.

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Required Documents