History

The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 opened the doors for Community Action Programs. Passage of anti-poverty legislation in August of 1964 during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson made this possible. The Office of Economics’ Opportunity (OEO) was created by this "Act" to provide administrative direction, funding, and monitoring to Community Action Programs.

Most South and Southeastern Oklahoma Counties started their "war on poverty" individually in 1966, as did many others around the nation, because of economic and social deprivation of human beings. This movement was considered necessary because there was no agency involved in treating the cause, as opposed to the effects, of poverty. Then, as now, the individuals organizing and operating these agencies were closely attuned to the problems of the poor and needy.

In 1969, ten counties were consolidated into a single entity, Indian Nation Community Action Foundation, Inc., consisting of Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Coal, Garvin, Johnston, Love, Marshall, Murray and Pontotoc Counties.

To better serve the area, in 1971 the program area in the ten counties was redefined.  Big Five Community Services, Inc. was subsequently formed by combining the counties of Bryan, Carter, Coal, Love and Pontotoc. Big Five is incorporated under the laws of the State of Oklahoma as a non-profit organization and is the largest rural CAA in the state in terms of poor population. In 1974, the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) was disbanded and the Community Services administration (CSA) was appointed to monitor and disperse funds to Community Action Programs until September of 1981.

In September of 1981, the Community Services Administration (CSA) disbanded and Community Action Program operations came under the Community Services Block Grant. In Oklahoma, the Block Grant funds are dispersed through the Oklahoma Department of Commerce (ODOC). The advent of block grants meant a return of administrative control to each state, but also meant a drastic reduction in funding and the elimination of some of our programs. Despite these changes, Big Five was able to survive, perhaps because as a community action agency we are the only social program designed to modify and eliminate the causes of poverty, rather than offering a temporary solution.