Central Missouri Community Action is a 501 c3 registered non-profit organization.
CMCA’s history is one filled with change, growth and helping people achieve self-reliance. Operating as a non-profit agency for over 40 years, CMCA has experienced as well as championed change in the communities it serves.
Initially offering one employment program intended to serve only Boone county, the regional need for a community action agency spurred its growth to become what it is today; an agency operating in eight counties to help those in poverty by providing an array of services and creating a network of support. Here is a brief look at how CMCA has evolved since its creation:
Central Missouri Community Action’s roots go back to August 20, 1964 when Lyndon Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 into law. This act consisted of social programs to promote the health, education, and general welfare of the poor. It was the signing of this act which enabled the formation of what was to become CMCA, the agency that today impacts thousands of lives in mid-Missouri. On December 6th 1965, after the establishment of a board of members and the first application for funds was written, Human Development Corporation (HDC) was incorporated. On that date, in our community, the war on poverty had begun. While initially serving only Boone County, within the first year HDC became Central Missouri Counties Human Development Corporation (CMCHDC) and began serving a 9 county area: Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau, Osage and Randolph. After redistricting, Randolph County was transferred to another CAA. In 2006, to make it easier to identify that CMCA is a community action agency, the name was changed from CMCHDC to CMCA in 2006.
Since its creation, CMCA has seen the number of services it provides grow in size and scope. In 1967, CMCA’s budget was just over $1 Million; by 2002 the budget was $9.4 million. CMCA’s first funding was for a ground level outreach program that recruited people indigenous to Boone County with low incomes to work for CMCA and administer programs to others with low incomes. By 1968, CMCA had 4 funded programs and CMCA had established itself as a leader in helping people rise up out of poverty. Today, CMCA offers such services as Weatherization, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Section 8 Assistance, Low income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP), Head Start, Early Head Start, Employment and Training, Foster Grandparents, Housing Development activities, and Family Support.
The Head Start program has been with CMCA nearly from the beginning; it was the third program to receive funding and is now the largest single program offered by CMCA. For more than four decades, Head Start has provided high quality comprehensive child development services for youth by seeing that their medical, nutritional, emotional and social needs have been met. During Head Start’s first year of service, it was operated solely during the summer. Because of the immense progress children displayed while in Head Start, it was expanded to run for the duration of the school year and is now operated year round. Due in part to the success of Head Start, in 2000, CMCA saw the addition of a related program, Early Head Start. This program provides prenatal assistance and care and works to ensure the healthy development of children 0-3 years of age.
The Foster Grandparents Program (FGP) was also one of the earliest programs to receive funding. FGP allows seniors to volunteer with children who have exceptional and special needs to promote education and literacy. FGP presents a win-win situation for those involved as seniors feel a renewed sense of purpose while the children benefit greatly from the one-on-one attention they receive. While FGP initially served institutionalized children, they now volunteer at schools, head start sites, and at home. In 2006, 95 Foster Grandparents logged 78,300 hours volunteering with 2,319 children!
CMCA also began serving clients through the Weatherization Assistance Program in 1975. The goal of the weatherization program is to reduce the cost of heating and cooling homes by increasing their energy efficiency. As a result of the success of weatherizing homes, the dollar limit that may be spent to weatherize a house has greatly increased, thereby allowing the services performed to become more comprehensive. When the program started, the limit per house was $300 which limited the measures to things such as caulking and weather-stripping. Currently the limit is $4,000 which permits services such as, window replacement, adding insulation and furnace replacement. In 2006, 169 homes were weatherized by CMCA in its 8-county service area.
In 1981, Community Service Block Grants (CSBG) began providing federal funding to the state of Missouri, which allocated the money to CMCA. Under CSBG funding, congress cut the total amount by approximately 25%, but placed fewer restrictions and less federal oversight on how the funds were used. With these funds, CMCA is required to address the following: employment, education, better use of available income, housing, nutrition, emergency services and health.
In 1994, CMCA was recognized as a Community Housing Development Organization, which allowed them to develop and advocate affordable housing opportunities for low income individuals. By utilizing multiple programs, CMCA helps in a variety of ways including, building new homes, providing rental assistance, helping clients save resources and going through the home buying process. To date, CMCA has built 19 homes for clients.
Starting in 1999, CMCA began working with the IRS to offer Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). VITA offers help with filing tax returns to individuals with low incomes. In its first year of operation at CMCA, VITA was staffed by one IRS employee at the Columbia Career Center. Today, CMCA offers VITA in all 8 counties it serves and has over 40 people assisting with the program, including student volunteers, and IRS employees.
Throughout its history, CMCA has often partnered with businesses and individuals in creative ways to develop resources to help those in poverty. CMCA has helped establish organizations and contribute to the mission of existing outside agencies that help those in need. These include such notable organizations such as the Central Missouri Food Bank, Voluntary Action Center, Planned Parenthood of Mid-Missouri, Medi-Group, Enterprise Development Corporation, Job Center, Mid-Missouri Legal Services Corporation, Community Garden Coalition, Fun City and the Phoenix Program.
Starting as a single county CAA in 1965 and growing to an 8-agency serving eight counties, CMCA’s desire and ability to adapt to the needs of those in poverty and develop innovative approaches, have been paramount in allowing them to remain in the forefront in the war on poverty. Being proactive in the community has also helped prepare CMCA for the many changes it has undergone. However, one constant goal in a sea of change has been CMCA’s mission: to help income eligible individuals and families achieve self-reliance through partnerships with the community.