Community Service Block Grants (CSBGs) play a vital role in the health of Oklahoma’s communities and low income families. The grants are a big part of the work of Commerce’s Community Development team. Unlike big infrastructure grants, community service grants are typically used to fund ongoing programs and services. You’ve probably heard of some of the better-known programs: Weatherization, Head Start, and Rx for Oklahoma.
Our agency’s role is the administration of the grants themselves. Local partners called Community Action Agencies (CAAs) run the programs paid for with CSBGs. There are 18 of them covering all 77 counties. This system gives local organizations maximum flexibility to respond to the specific needs of low income families and communities in their area.
Here are some specific examples:
CAAs provide weatherization assistance, which makes homes more energy efficient and reduces health hazards. This is accomplished through installation and replacement of heating and cooling units, adding insulation, sealing air leaks, and other measures to weatherproof homes. This also stimulates the economies of local communities through purchases of hardware and hiring of local contractors.
CAAs administer the Rx for Oklahoma program, overseen by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. This program helps those who are uninsured and underinsured get free and discounted medication assistance. This helps ensure patients take their medications on schedule, and frees more of their income for other necessities.
CAAs operate the federally funded Head Start program, and they expand and enhance this program with funds from Commerce. The expansion and enhancement of this program means more families are supported, and children are better prepared for kindergarten and grade school.
The great thing about this model is the ability of local agencies to create and run programs that address local problems. No two communities have exactly the same needs and CAAs get creative. Some other programs include:
- GED completion programs
- Job training
- Free tax preparation
Have a question about community service grants or Community Action Agencies? Join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter. Visit the Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies on their website, https://okacaa.org/.