Potential Cuts Could Decimate Oswego County Opportunities’ Programs

FULTON, NY – In his State of the Union Address, President Obama announced that his administration has proposed cuts and changes to Community Action.

Community Action was birthed in the mid-1960s out of the Johnson Administration’s War on Poverty and 1,200 agencies like Oswego County Opportunities have been fighting that battle in their respective communities ever since.

The proposed cuts will devastate these anti-poverty agencies nationwide, which means that critical services for helping families achieve economic stability will be lost.

The Obama Administration has proposed a 50% cut in the Community Services Block Grant, the central source of funding for Community Action agencies.

The administration also plans on eliminating the state allocation formula and forcing competitive bids for all remaining funds.

All together these actions would mean eliminating CSBG and dismantling the national Community Action system.

Why is this a problem?

CSBG is the only federal funding focused on comprehensive services to fight poverty.

If it is eliminated, the 1,200 Community Action agencies across the country will be forced to slash programs, or even to shut their doors.

Oswego County Opportunities receives $200,000 in CSBG funds each year.

While this amount may seem small for an agency with an annual budget of $30 million, that money allows OCO to incubate programs that meet a local need but are not yet funded through government legislation.

Sometimes it takes government several years to address a need; CSBG dollars help us meet that need sooner.

We put CSBG funds to work providing supportive and comprehensive job training activities at a variety or work sites including Back Street Books, for example.

Last year, OCO helped 276 people find jobs; some of them were helped by this job training.

In this economy, any job found is a success story!

There will be many difficult budget decisions needing to be made at the state and federal level.

Detrimental budget decreases such as 50% reductions or eliminating funding altogether to social and economic development programs means we are balancing the budget on the backs of individuals who can least afford it.

We’re sharing this concern with the public because the people of our communities are the ones who stand to lose the most from these cuts.

It is essential that President Obama and the Congress hear from communities like ours, all across America.

We need to work together to let our national leaders know that Community Action is important to us.

You can call or email the President and your representatives in Congress.

Tell them how Community Action has made a difference in your life, in Oswego County – and encourage others to do the same.

To sign an online petition, please copy this link and type or paste it into the Internet browser window on your computer: http://www.petitiononline.com/4iA8vA4g/petition.html

You can also obtain more information from the “Community Action WORKS!” website at:

To learn more about Oswego County Opportunities, visit our website: www.oco.org.

John Babcock, OCO Board President