The precursor to today’s Community Action Of Greater Indianapolis (CAGI) was established in 1965 as Community Action Against Poverty (CAAP). With the assistance of community leaders such as Senator (then Mayor) Richard G. Lugar, CAAP was formed as part of the “War On Poverty” to provide programs and services to low-income residents of the city of Indianapolis. “Low-income” is generally defined as a household income at or below 150% of the federally-determined poverty level.
Long after the federal government’s “War On Poverty” ceased, the community action agencies it spawned continue to fight existing poverty and seek to eradicate its causes. In 1982, CAAP significantly expanded its coverage area from one to four counties, (subsuming community action activities in Boone, Hamilton and Hendricks Counties as well as Marion County). At that time, the agency’s name became Community Action Of Greater Indianapolis (CAGI) to reflect its responsibility for and engagement in a much larger geographic area.
Since its inception more than 50 years ago, CAGI has provided services including energy assistance, childcare, family support, education and training programs, transitional housing, lead remediation and emergency rental and food assistance to eligible participants (principally low-income, disabled, or senior residents of the agency service area). The agency also has acted as funding agent for programs which provided legal services, programs through neighborhood centers, Head Start and summer jobs programs.
As the needs and expectations of its clients have grown and evolved, CAGI’s portfolio has expanded to include assistance in such areas as home repair, housing counseling, financial literacy and the development of tax-credit based senior housing apartments.
A hallmark of the agency since its inception has been its governance model: the agency board must consist of one-third elected officials (or their designated representatives), one-third members of the private sector and one-third representatives of its eligible client constituency (or their representatives). This has ensured a diverse stakeholder partnership throughout the agency’s existence.