Glossary of Community Action Acronyms

Welcome to the world of Community Action words! Like many sectors of our society, Community Action has a lingo and acronyms to go with it. The legal world also has its fair share of acronyms which when coupled with Community Action’s can at times be challenging to navigate. In an effort to increase accessibility and comfort for those involved with Community Action and its many applicable legal requirements, CAPLAW has compiled a list that briefly defines the acronyms that those in Community Action may regularly encounter. The list is not exhaustive and we will periodically update it. If you think an often used acronym is missing from the list, let us know by sending an email to

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“Administration for Children and Families” is a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). ACF’s mission is to promote the economic and social well-being of children, families, individuals and communities with leadership and resources for compassionate, effective delivery of human services. ACF administers numerous federal grant programs common to CAAs, such as Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), Head Start, Community Economic Development (CED), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and Social Services Block Grant Program (SSBG).


“Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990” is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

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“Community Action Agencies” are tax-exempt, nonprofit corporations or public entities funded by the federal Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) via subgrants they receive from a state department designated by the state’s governor to facilitate the funding. To receive CSBG funding, an organization must maintain a specified board composition and be capable of providing a broad range of services designed to eliminate poverty and foster self-sufficiency.


Another term for Community Action Agency (CAA). The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 authorized the creation of and funding for the nationwide Community Action Program, which was composed of local Community Action Programs (CAPs) across the country. The Economic Opportunity Act also referred to the local CAPs as Community Action Agencies.


“Community Action Program Legal Services” a tax-exempt, nonprofit membership corporation dedicated to providing the legal, governance, and management resources necessary to sustain and strength the national Community Action Agency (CAA) network.


“Child Care and Development Block Grant,” created by the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, authorizes the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which is a federal and state partnership program that provides financial assistance to low-income families to access child care so they can work or attend a job training or educational program. States also use the CCDF to build the skills and qualifications of the teacher workforce, support child care programs to achieve higher standards, and provide consumer education to help parents select child care that meets their families’ needs.


“Community Development Block Grant” program aims to ensure decent affordable housing, to provide services to the most vulnerable communities, and to create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses. CDBG is one of the longest-running programs administered by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


“Code of Federal Regulations” is the codification of rules of the executive departments and agencies of the federal government.


“Corporation for National and Community Service” is a federal agency that focuses on improving the lives of the American people through programs that foster volunteer opportunities and service by fellow Americans. CNCS administers multiple federal programs such as AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund and the Volunteer Fund.


“Conflict of Interest” is a situation in which there is a personal or financial interest that compromises or could compromise a person’s independence of judgment in exercising his or her responsibilities.


“Community Services Block Grant” is a federal block grant administered by Office of Community Services (OCS) located within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). CSBG funds the operations of a state-administered network of tax-exempt nonprofit corporations and public entities designated as Community Action Agencies (CAA) to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in communities. CSBG funding supports projects that provide services and activities addressing employment, education, better use of available income, housing, nutrition, emergency services and/or health.

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“U.S. Department of Energy” is a federal agency that addresses energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. DOE administers several federal grant programs, including the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).


“U.S. Department of Justice” is a federal agency that enforces laws and defends the interests of the United States. DOJ administers several federal grant programs through the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Office for Victims of Crimes (OVC), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).


“U.S. Department of Labor” is a federal agency responsible for enforcing a variety of federal labor and employment laws such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Davis-Bacon Act, and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). DOL also administers several grant programs including the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS).

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“Early Childhood Leaning and Knowledge Center” offers training and technical assistance resources for the Head Start program from the federal Office of Head Start (OHS).


“U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission” is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.


“Economic Opportunity Act of 1964” initially authorized the federal funding of Community Action Agencies (CAA) as a part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. The Act was repealed in 1981 and replaced by the federal Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Act.

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“Fair Labor Standards Act” is a federal statute that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards for full- and part-time workers in the private and public sectors.


“Family and Medical Leave Act” is a federal law requiring covered employers to provide eligible employees with job-protected, unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. .

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“U. S. Department of Health and Human Services” is federal agency that administers programs aimed at protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services through grant programs such as the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), Head Start, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).


“U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development” is a federal agency that administers programs aimed at creating strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes, such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) which funds Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDO).

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“Internal Revenue Service” is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that administers and supervises the execution and application of federal tax laws.

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“Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program” is a federal block grant program administered by the federal Office of Community Services (OCS). LIHEAP assists eligible low-income households with heating and cooling energy costs, bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

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“National Association for State Community Services Programs” is a national membership association that advocates and enhances the leadership role of states in preventing and reducing poverty through its publications and training. NASCSP members mainly consist of state offices that facilitate Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) funding. NASCSP's vision encompasses the empowerment of low-income families to reach self-sufficiency in its broadest context, through helping states attain full utilization of their resources and implement an extensive array of services to these families, including weatherization, energy assistance, child care, nutrition, employment, state energy programs, job training, and housing in urban, suburban and rural communities.


“National Community Action Foundation” is a non-profit organization that represents the funding and policy interests of Community Action Agencies (CAA) before Congress and the federal Executive Branch. NCAF is funded solely by private contributions.

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“Office of Community Services” is located within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). OCS administers a number of social service and community development federal grant programs, including the Community Services Block Grant Program (CSBG), Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG).


“Office of Head Start” is located within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). OHS administers funding authorized by the Head Start Act, oversee entities that provide Head Start services, issues federal policy direction, and provides a training and technical assistance (T/TA) system to assist Head Start recipients in providing comprehensive services to eligible young children and their families. Head Start funding is used to support preschool programs, which primarily serve 3- and 4-year old children, and Early Head Start programs for infants, toddlers, and pregnant women.


“Occupational Safety and Health Administration” is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and aims to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working people by setting and enforcing health and safety standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.


“Office of Justice Programs” is within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and provides innovative leadership to federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems, by disseminating state-of-the art knowledge and practices across America, and providing federal grants for the implementation of these crime fighting strategies.


“Office of Management and Budget” is a federal Executive Office that oversees the performance of federal agencies and administers the federal budget. In particular, OMB establishes government-wide grant management policies and guidelines which are typically adopted by each federal agency via regulations issued by that agency. In 2013, OMB finalized its comprehensive overhaul of federal grant administrative, cost accounting and audit policies guidance, titled the Uniform Administrative Requires, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.


“Office for Victims of Crime” is within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and administers the Crime Victims Fund which is financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars. OVC channels funding for victim compensation and assistance throughout the United States, raises awareness about victims’ issues, promotes compliance with victims’ rights laws, and provides training and technical assistance (T/TA) and publications and products to victim assistance professionals.

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“National Community Action Partnership” is a national, tax-exempt, nonprofit membership corporation that provides technical assistance, training and other resources to the Community Action network. The resources provided by the Partnership enable the Community Action network to stay up-to-date on the latest best practices to fight poverty and empower low-income individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency.

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“Results Oriented Management and Accountability” is a performance-based initiative designed to preserve the anti-poverty focus of community action and to promote greater effectiveness among state and local agencies receiving Community Service Blog Grant (CSBG) funds.

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“Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs” (formerly the Food Stamp Program) is a Food Nutrition Services (FNS) program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Working with State agencies, nutrition educators, and neighborhood and faith-based organizations, SNAP puts healthy food within reach for 28 million people each month via an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card used to purchase food at most grocery stores. Through nutrition education partners, SNAP helps clients learn to make healthy eating and active lifestyle choices.


“Supportive Services for Veteran Families” is a federal grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that provides funding to nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives who can provide supportive services to low-income Veteran families living in transition to permanent housing.

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“Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” is a federal block grant administered by Office of Community Services (OCS) located within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). TANF is designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency by providing block grants to states to design and operate programs that accomplish one of the following four purposes of the TANF program to: provide assistance to needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes; reduce the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work and marriage; prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.


“Training and Technical Assistance” is the planning, development, delivery, and evaluation of resources and activities designed to achieve specific learning objectives, resolve problems, and foster the application of innovative approaches.

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“Uniform Grant Guidance” or “Uniform Guidance” is Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) comprehensive grant guidance titled the Uniform Administrative Requires, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards that establishes a government-wide grants management framework. The UG is generally codified at 2 C.F.R. Part 200 and has been adopted by all federal agencies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the one federal agency that recodified the UG in its entirety at 45 C.F.R. Part 75. The UG is intended to ease administrative burden and strengthen oversight over federal funds. In particular, the UG addresses topics relating to protecting and using federal funds such as procurement, property standards, financial management, monitoring, allowable costs (i.e., costs which may be paid for with federal funds) and audit requirements.


“U.S. Department of Agriculture” is a federal agency that provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management.


“United States Code” is the official compilation and codification of federal statutes.

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“Weatherization Assistance Program” is a federal grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and aims to reduce energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while ensuring their health and safety.


“The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children” is a Food Nutrition Services (FNS) program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). WIC provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.


“Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act” establishes a publicly funded workforce system, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS). WIOA aims to align workforce development, education, and economic development programs with regional economic development strategies to meet the needs of local and regional employers.

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