On March 16, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson delivered a special message to Congress declaring “an unconditional war” on poverty. Johnson asked Congress to pass his Economic Opportunity Act, which would create the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) as a cabinet-level agency and have his Chief of Staff, Sargent Shriver, as its first director. Johnson’s OEO included the creation of Community Action Agencies to “strike poverty at its source – in the streets of our cities and on the farms of our countryside…”
The Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency (SMCAA) is a private, non-profit Community Action Agency - part of a state and national network. There are 28 Community Action Agencies in Michigan and nearly 1000 across the country.
Beginning October 1, 2021, SMCAA will be celebrating 40 years of servicing those in-need across Southwest Michigan. Our agency was founded in 1982 when we began servicing Van Buren County. In 1986, SMCAA was incorporated and began providing human services to both Cass and Van Buren Counties. In 1992, Berrien County was officially added to our service delivery area.
At SMCAA, we bring together federal and state grant funds and donated dollars from local, private, and public sources. Our core funding is the U.S. Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), and we must fulfill a total of 58 Organizational Standards
in order to meet funding requirements. This funding, as well as all additional grants and donations, are then directed into a number of core and special programs and services which aid the low income, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged individuals and households residing in Southwest Michigan.
Our Mission: Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency (SMCAA) is dedicated to empowering diverse people in need and supporting their journey towards economic security.
Our Vision: To be a beacon of support in a strong, thriving community by helping people and changing lives.
In order to accomplish our mission and reach our vision, SMCAA establishes,
coordinates, and carries out programs to promote the health, education, and
welfare of low-income individuals and families across the tri-county area.
SMCAA abides by the Promise of Community Action: Community Action
changes people's lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities,
and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community,
and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.
Our agency is governed by a tri-partite Board of Directors. These Board members
shoulder significant responsibility for the oversight of finance, executive leadership,
human resources, strategic planning, customer input, community engagement,
community assessment, data analysis, and planning. The Board accomplishes this
responsibility through direct action and oversight.
Per CSBG guidelines, the SMCAA Board of Directors is equally represented by the three
sectors: public, private, and consumer. This is so the Board may keep the community
well-informed about issues affecting the poor and facilitate communication between low
income representatives, the locally elected public officials, and the private sector. The
various perspectives from each sector help SMCAA identify and address the causes of poverty.
You can meet the members of our Board, read the monthly meeting minutes, and learn
more about SMCAA's tripartite Board of Directors here.
SMCAA’s growth and success in serving the low-income individuals and families of the tri-county area could not be achieved without the many forms of support so generously provided by our Community Partners.