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and Self Sufficiency
in Our Community
The mission of the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc., is to advocate for, coordinate, and administer community programs to combat poverty and the causes of poverty in Santa Cruz County.
A just and democratic society requires that low-income families and individuals of all ages attain the skills, knowledge, motivation, and opportunities to move toward a life of dignity and self-respect. Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc. (CAB) exists to further this goal through advocacy on behalf of low-income persons and families, and effective utilization of all available public and private resources. Low-income individuals shall be a voice in helping to shape CAB policy and programs.
The Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, along with 1,100 similar Community Action Agencies across the country (at least one in every county of the nation), was founded following passage of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of “War on Poverty” in his first State of the Union speech on January 8, 1964. President Johnson was carrying forth the vision of President John F. Kennedy.
Following its start in October of 1965, the Santa Cruz County Community Action Program applied for and received federal funding to launch local initiatives to combat poverty. Programs that were started to address local needs included Head Start, the Emergency Food Bank (now Second Harvest Food Bank), the Legal Aid Society of Santa Cruz County (now part of California Rural Legal Assistance), Housing Authority of Santa Cruz County, state pre-school programs including COPE Centro Familiar, WIC, Senior Citizens Legal Services, Foster Grandparent Program and many others. In addition to the accomplishments of this effort, CAB also successfully pushed for establishment of bilingual education in public schools and family planning services that are now operated by the County of Santa Cruz.
As a result of these efforts poverty was reduced, as was infant mortality. More Santa Cruz County residents, including those disadvantaged by income status, disabilities, age, ethnicity and gender, for the first time received services promoting independence and self-sufficiency. In addition, the safety net for the neediest individuals was strengthened.
Unfortunately, these efforts slowed significantly. The failure was not the War on Poverty. The failure was that the war was cancelled. Funding for Community Action and other Great Society Programs dwindled as the Vietnam War escalated.
As funding declined during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, CAB functioned largely as a flow-through agency directing resources to delegate agencies providing services. CAB ceased to be a county program in October of 1977 and became a private non-profit organization, known as the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc., or CAB. From this time forward, CAB’s commitment and focus on advocacy for and with low-income people expanded. Such efforts included a focus on protection of immigrant, homeless and welfare rights, development of living wage initiatives in three local jurisdictions, and North Coast farm worker organizing efforts.
Today, Community Action Board has over 40 employees, interns, volunteers (including AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers) and has an annual budget of $3,139,562 (in 2011).