The Development of Community Action

Community Action Agencies (CAAs) were launched as key elements of President Lyndon Johnson’s Economic Opportunity Act of 1964: Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” Developers of early legislation recognized that poverty had no single cause. Therefore, Community Action Agencies were given the flexibility to develop programs that addressed issues of housing, health, education, nutrition, employment, emergency assistance, and other areas known to be related to poverty.


Today there are approximately 1,000 CAAs in the United States, established by invitation of local communities. New River Community Action, Inc., established in 1965 as a private, non-profit organization, serves the Counties of Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, and Pulaski and the City of Radford, Virginia. This agency, like other CAAs, receives its core funding through the federal and state Community Services Block Grant. Other federal and state grant funds, local government and private support provide additional program revenues. All contributions are tax-deductible.


Community Action Agencies are well known proponents of self-sufficiency: “A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out” is our goal. We strive to achieve our purpose through community organization and empowerment, i.e., helping local communities to recognize and alleviate their own poverty conditions. CAAs serve low-income individuals in need regardless of age, sex, handicap, religion or ethnic background.

Community Organization: “Together We Can Make It Happen”

New River Community Action (NRCA) has a proud history of service with the community. Working with local groups and citizens of all income levels, NRCA has participated in the development of local independent agencies such as the Free Medical Clinic of the New River Valley, Women’s Resource Center, Legal Aid Society, New River Valley Habitat for Humanity, New River Family Shelter, Community Friendship Workshop, Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program, Inc., and the Pulaski County Emergency Needs Task Force. NRCA continues to partner with many of these agencies in an effort to meet client needs. In addition to developing new organizations, New River Community Action serves as an umbrella agency for numerous local anti-poverty programs.


Staff located in five jurisdictions work with groups throughout the New River Valley to develop programs appropriate for each local area. The agency’s Board of Directors is composed of volunteers representing local governments, low-income communities, and the private sector. It is a cross section of people from different age groups and backgrounds cemented together by a common desire to offer a hand up to their fellow neighbors in need.

Our Community Challenge

New River Community Action holds the conviction that poverty and hunger are not acceptable conditions in our communities. We believe that ending poverty is an attainable goal through joint community efforts. Each of us has something to contribute; each of us can play a part.

New River Community Action Timeline