As part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 was signed into law on August 20, 1964. Through the Office of Economic Opportunity, Community Action Programs and Community Action Agencies were created. These agencies were to become the means of conducting the War on Poverty.
The Central Arkansas Development Council was organized in 1965 as a private non-profit corporation for the purpose outlined in the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The OEO recognized CADC as a Community Action Agency in November 1965, servicing Saline and Hot Spring Counties. The initial grant was for six months to develop the organization, plan the services, identify the target areas and to structure the Board to reflect one-third public, one-third private, and one-third low-income.
CADC’s first programs were job training and early childhood education. The first grants came early in 1966. Those were (1) a program to work with rural school districts to identify low-income students that were educationally disadvantaged and secure resources to assist them (2) Medcare Alert, enrolling persons 65 and older in Medicare (3) In School Work-Study Program, designed after the Neighborhood Youth Corp to secure employment for youth in school.
In April of 1966, a grant application was submitted to OEO for administrative funding of the agency. This was approved effective June 1, 1966. Head Start was introduced in the summer of 1966 and operated in both Saline and Hot Spring counties. In 1967, Head Start became a full year program.
By 1967, CADC’s funding was approximately $300,000 and the programs consisted of administration, Neighborhood Service Centers, Head Start, and Neighborhood Youth Corp, with offices in Benton and Malvern. In 1969, Clark County became a part of CADC’s service area.