This week marks a significant milestone in our nation’s history: On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared War on Poverty. The declaration and the various pieces of legislation that followed were the result of prolonged advocacy from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders, and acknowledged the correlation between poverty and racism.

In August of that year, President Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act, which created Community Action Agencies to coordinate local antipoverty efforts and fund programs such as Head Start, Job Corps, and many others. Philadelphia’s Anti-Poverty Action Committee was set up in 1965, under the direction of the late Charles “Charlie” Bowser, laying the foundation for the work our office does today as Philadelphia’s community action agency.

For 60 years, Community Action has responded to local needs in every corner of America and helped make America a better place to live. Today, about 1,000 agencies are charged with the sweeping mission of addressing the causes and conditions of poverty that hold people and places back.

That mission is no more important than here in Philadelphia, where nearly 22 percent of residents still experience the sting of poverty. While our collective efforts have helped reduce that number over the last decade, there is still much work to do. As the needs of individuals and communities change, so too must Community Action’s strategies and solutions.

To mark the 60th Anniversary, our office will be highlighting ways we listen to and amplify the voices of residents to advance economic mobility. Together, we can create a more equitable society where all our communities can thrive.


See our policy solutions to remove the barriers that create and maintain poverty.