What We Do

“So, what are Community Action Agencies?
What do they do?”

Those are two questions we hear a lot.

And here’s the funny thing: There are 16 Community Action Agencies in Arkansas, and if you asked each of them that second question—So what is it that you do?—you’d probably get 16 different answers. And why is that? Well, that brings us back to the first question.

You will find that most Community Action Agencies in Arkansas provide food assistance—and most provide utility assistance. Many agencies administer the Head Start schools in their communities, and many operate senior centers. Weatherization assistance? Also Community Action.

But Community Action is also substance abuse clinics. And dental care. And housing assistance. And employment services. It’s Meals on Wheels, tax preparation consultation, the Single Parent Scholarship Fund, and emergency food and shelter. The answer to the question “What are Community Action Agencies?” is—Whatever each community needs.

The very essence of Community Action is that one size does not fit all. Community Action Agencies were conceived to be changeable and adaptable and unbound by rigid definitions.

When President Lyndon Johnson conceived the idea of a “War on Poverty” and tapped the aptly-named Sargent Shriver to spearhead his effort, he knew that a top-down approach would never work. Johnson and Shriver both knew that, inevitably, the very best soldiers in the war on poverty would be those most familiar with the front lines.

In order to help combat the significant income drain that utility costs can place upon low-income households, Arkansas’s Community Action Agencies provide assistance through the federally-funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program—better known as “HEAP” or “LIHEAP.” Housing assistance takes many forms, such as pre-homebuyer education, credit counseling, downpayment assistance, closing cost loans, individual development accounts, home rehabilitation, low-income rental housing, special needs housing, house reconstruction, and do-it-yourself self-help home construction.

Many of the state’s agencies provide pantries within their service areas for those facing food insecurity, while Community Action also administers major food banks such as the River Valley Food Bank, which supplies multiple such outlets for food distribution. As well, agencies regularly provide needed food through the USDA’s Commodity Distribution program, home-delivered meals, community gardens, and summer food programs. Within a year, Community Action agencies distribute over 8 million pounds of food to local organizations to help reduce hunger.

Community Action operates 40 senior activity and wellness centers across the state, offering Arkansans over 60 much-needed recreation, fellowship, congregate meals, transportation, field trips, shopping assistance, computer training, book clubs, and motivational speakers—not to mention serving as a focal point for other senior services in the community with an emphasis on health & wellness issues. In addition, home-delivered meals and Elder Choices programs focus on keeping seniors independent and living in their own homes whenever possible.

The Weatherization Assistance Program has served low-income families for more than 30 years, helping to reduce heating and cooling costs—particularly for the elderly, people with disabilities, and children—by improving the energy efficiency of their homes while ensuring their health and safety. Weatherization in Arkansas is provided by six Community Action Agencies who service the entire state: Professionally trained weatherization crews perform on-site home energy audits; households can receive attic and wall insulation, weather-stripping of doors and windows, storm window installation, furnace retrofitting, and other measures. Nationwide, weatherization generates an average energy cost savings of $300 per home each year.

Community Action Agencies administer over 125 of the state’s Head Start schools, which provide crucial high-quality early education and, in many cases, much-needed nutrition to Arkansas’s low-income children. Other youth services include child care food programs, prevention resources centers for drug awareness education, and home instruction for parents of preschoolers. Children’s House in Springdale, administered by the Economic Opportunity Agency of Washington County, is the nation’s largest long-term center for early childhood abuse prevention and treatment and the only center of its kind in Arkansas.

Energy Icon  Energy & Housing

In order to help combat the significant income drain that utility costs can place upon low-income households, Arkansas’s Community Action Agencies provide assistance through the federally-funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program—better known as “HEAP” or “LIHEAP.” Housing assistance takes many forms, such as pre-homebuyer education, credit counseling, downpayment assistance, closing cost loans, individual development accounts, home rehabilitation, low-income rental housing, special needs housing, house reconstruction, and do-it-yourself self-help home construction.

Energy Icon  Food Banks & Pantries

Many of the state’s agencies provide pantries within their service areas for those facing food insecurity, while Community Action also administers major food banks such as the River Valley Food Bank, which supplies multiple such outlets for food distribution. As well, agencies regularly provide needed food through the USDA’s Commodity Distribution program, home-delivered meals, community gardens, and summer food programs. Within a year, Community Action agencies distribute over 8 million pounds of food to local organizations to help reduce hunger.

Energy Icon  Senior Services

Community Action operates 40 senior activity and wellness centers across the state, offering Arkansans over 60 much-needed recreation, fellowship, congregate meals, transportation, field trips, shopping assistance, computer training, book clubs, and motivational speakers—not to mention serving as a focal point for other senior services in the community with an emphasis on health & wellness issues. In addition, home-delivered meals and Elder Choices programs focus on keeping seniors independent and living in their own homes whenever possible.

Energy Icon  Weatherization

The Weatherization Assistance Program has served low-income families for more than 30 years, helping to reduce heating and cooling costs—particularly for the elderly, people with disabilities, and children—by improving the energy efficiency of their homes while ensuring their health and safety. Weatherization in Arkansas is provided by six Community Action Agencies who service the entire state: Professionally trained weatherization crews perform on-site home energy audits; households can receive attic and wall insulation, weather-stripping of doors and windows, storm window installation, furnace retrofitting, and other measures. Nationwide, weatherization generates an average energy cost savings of $300 per home each year.

Energy Icon  Children & Youth

Community Action Agencies administer over 125 of the state’s Head Start schools, which provide crucial high-quality early education and, in many cases, much-needed nutrition to Arkansas’s low-income children. Other youth services include child care food programs, prevention resources centers for drug awareness education, and home instruction for parents of preschoolers. Children’s House in Springdale, administered by the Economic Opportunity Agency of Washington County, is the nation’s largest long-term center for early childhood abuse prevention and treatment and the only center of its kind in Arkansas.