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McCollum is Lead Democrat on Bipartisan Community Economic Opportunity Act of 2014

January 14, 2014
Press Release


McCollum is Lead Democrat on Bipartisan
Community Economic Opportunity Act of 2014

Over 1,000 agencies nationwide serve 16 million individuals

Washington, DC – Last night, Congresswoman Betty McCollum joined Congressmen Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Jim Costa (D-CA) to introduce the Community Economic Opportunity Act of 2014 (H.R. 3854), a bipartisan bill reauthorizing the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG). For 50 years, community action agencies have been among our most effective tools in fighting poverty, and today’s legislation ensures that will continue to be the case for generations to come. H.R. 3854 reauthorizes funding, establishes performance benchmarks, creates greater accountability, and further leverages private partnerships.

This legislation authorizes $850 million for over 1,000 agencies nationwide serving about 16 million individuals.  Community action agencies help coordinate $14 billion in federal, state, local and private sector resources. In Minnesota, 26 community action agencies and 11 tribal governments serve 650,000 people statewide.   

“Community action agencies have been one of our country’s greatest assets in the war on poverty,” said Congresswoman McCollum. “Serving about 16 million low-income individuals each year, these agencies provide access to critical services such as job training, nutrition support, financial counseling, and early education. By empowering communities to make choices on a local level about how to best serve their families, each community is able to invest in the support services they want and need. This reauthorization builds on the successes of agencies in Minnesota and throughout United States, but also includes needed reforms to ensure federal dollars are being spent effectively.  I am proud to lead the push for reauthorizing these critical federal funds and will do everything I can to ensure passage of this legislation.”

“The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funding is a vital part of Minnesota’s safety net,” said Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “Not only does it help support people’s basic needs, but perhaps more importantly, it offers ladders up and out of poverty for thousands of Minnesotans. I want to thank Rep. McCollum for her leadership on behalf of this critical program.”

“Reauthorization of the Community Service Block Grant is critical to local communities throughout Minnesota,” said Arnie Anderson, Executive Director of the Minnesota Community Action Partnership. “As go-to agencies across the state, Community Action Agencies use CSBG funding as the bedrock for investing in local community development and working with families to achieve self-sufficiency. A good measure of the value is that in the past decade, Minnesotans from all walks of life donated more than 18 million hours of service to help their neighbors through their local Community Action Agencies.”

 “The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funding provides some of the most critical funds for my agency’s communities,” added Clarence Hightower, Executive Director of Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties.  “Without a doubt, they are the most efficient and effective tool I have at my disposal to reduce poverty and its impacts in Ramsey and Washington Counties. These dollars are targeted at innovative strategies that seek to exchange contemporary problems with life-altering opportunities for the most needy in our community. With the guidance of a governing board representing those we serve as well as partner organizations, we are poised to  deliver the right mix of services to the 67,000 individuals we served last year.  Among these services are Head Start, Weatherization, Energy Assistance and Financial Literacy. I am pleased to support the role that Congresswoman Betty McCollum played in shepherding this important effort to the finishing line. She has been and remains a key partner in our efforts to reduce poverty in our city.”

"Today, Congresswoman Betty McCollum has demonstrated how a leader dedicated to creating opportunity for every family, in every American community, can build a coalition with all others who share in the goal of ending poverty. The Community Economic Opportunity Act will be the foundation for a modern, high-impact assault on the causes of poverty by building on the lessons learned in the past 50 years and deploying 21st century tools and imagination in the service of our most vulnerable communities and their residents,” said David Bradley, Executive Director, National Community Action Foundation.

In 2012, Minnesota Community Action Agencies:

-       Helped 10,317 children participate in preschool activities.

-       Provided child care for 8,103 families in Minnesota

-       Obtained immunizations, medical and dental care for 10,548 children

-       Helped 3,568 Minnesotans find jobs


Congresswoman Betty McCollum serves on the House Appropriations Committee.  She is Democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.