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NonProfit Risk Management Center

Audit Essentials

Community Action Agency Boards of Directors and the Organizational Standards

Preparing for Your Community Action Agency's Future Part 1

Preparing for Your Community Action Agency's Future Part 2

Preparing for Your Community Action Agency's Future Part 3

Cost Allocation

Exemplary Legal Practices

Monitoring Map for CAAs

Tools for Top Notch CAAs

Kansas CAA Planning Tools:

Organizational Standards - Calendar for private CAAs

Organizational Standards - Calendar for public CAAs

Organizational Standards Tool for private CAAs

Organizational Standards Tool for public CAAs



Organizational Standards


CSBG Organizational Standards


On January 26, 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USHHS), Office of Community Services, issued Information Memorandum No. 138 establishing Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Organizational Standards.  The Kansas CSBG network adopted the Center of Excellence-developed Organizational Standards effective October 1, 2015.
Information Memorandum No. 138 


Glossary of Terms  

Organizational Standards and Community Action Boards 

Organizational Standards Resources

The Center of Excellence (COE)-developed standards are organized in three thematic groups comprising nine categories and totals of 58 standards for private, nonprofit eligible entities and 50 for public entities.

Click on a Category below for the Technical Assistance Guide.

Maximum Feasible Participation

Category 1 – Consumer Input and Involvement

Community Action is rooted in the belief that people with low incomes are in the best position to express what they need to make a difference in their lives. CSBG eligible entities work in partnership with the people and communities they serve. Community Action works in a coordinated and comprehensive manner to develop programs and services that will make a critical difference in the lives of participants. Individuals and families are well attuned to what they need, and when Community Action taps into that knowledge, it informs our ability to implement high-impact programs and services.


Category 2 – Community Engagement    

No CSBG eligible entity can meet all of a community’s needs independently. Through formal and informal partnerships, ongoing community planning, advocacy, and engagement of people with low incomes, partners ranging from community and faith-based organizations, educational institutions, government, and business work together with Community Action Agencies and other CSBG eligible entities to successfully move families out of poverty and revitalize communities


Category 3 – Community Assessment   

Local control of Federal CSBG resources is predicated on regular comprehensive community assessments that take into account the breadth of community needs as well as the partners and resources available in a community to meet these needs. Regular assessment of needs and resources at the community level is the foundation of Community Action and a vital management and leadership tool that is used across the organization and utilized by the community to set the course for both CSBG and all agency resources.


Vision and Direction

Category 4 – Organizational Leadership 

Community Action leadership is exemplified at all levels across the organization and starts with a mission that clarifies Community Action’s work on poverty. A well-functioning board, a focused chief executive officer (CEO)/executive director, well-trained and dedicated staff, and volunteers giving of themselves to help others will establish Community Action as the cornerstone and leverage point to address poverty across the community. Ensuring strong leadership both for today and into the future is critical.


Category 5 – Board Governance 

Community Action boards are uniquely structured to ensure maximum feasible participation by the entire community, including those the network serves. By law, Community Action boards are comprised of at least 1/3 low-income consumers (or their representatives), 1/3 elected officials (or their appointees), and the remainder private-sector community members. To make this structure work as intended, CAAs must recruit board members thoughtfully, work within communities to promote opportunities for board service, and orient, train, and support them in their oversight role. Boards are foundational to good organizational performance and the time invested to keep them healthy and active is significant, but necessary.


Category 6 – Strategic Planning 

Establishing the vision for a Community Action Agency is a big task and setting the course to reach it through strategic planning is serious business. CSBG eligible entities take on this task by looking both at internal functioning and at the community’s needs. An efficient organization knows where it is headed, how the board and staff fit into that future, and how it will measure its success in achieving what it has set out to do. This agency-wide process is board-led and ongoing. A “living, breathing” strategic plan with measurable outcomes is the goal, rather than a plan that gets written but sits on a shelf and stagnates. Often set with an ambitious vision, strategic plans set the tone for the staff and board and are a key leadership and management tool for the organization.


Operations and Accountability

Category 7 – Human Resource Management 

The human element of Community Action’s work is evident at all levels of the organization and the relationship an organization has with its staff often reflects the organization’s values and mission. Oversight of the chief executive officer (CEO)/executive director and maintaining a strong human resources infrastructure are key responsibilities of board oversight. Attention to organizational elements such as policies and procedures, performance appraisals, and training lead to strong organizations with the capacity to deliver high-quality services in low-income communities.


Category 8 – Financial Operations and Oversight 

The fiscal bottom line of Community Action is not isolated from the mission, it is a joint consideration. Community Action boards and staff maintain a high level of fiscal accountability through audits, monitoring by State and Federal agencies, and compliance with Federal Office of Management Budget circulars. The management of Federal funds is taken seriously by CSBG eligible entities and the Standards specifically reflect the board’s oversight role as well as the day-to-day operational functions.


Category 9 – Data and Analysis 

The Community Action Network moves families out of poverty every day across this country and needs to produce data that reflect the collective impact of these efforts. Individual stories are compelling when combined with quantitative data: no data without stories and no stories without data. Community Action needs to better document the outcomes families, agencies, and communities achieve. The Community Services Block Grant funding confers the obligation and opportunity to tell the story of agency-wide impact and community change, and in turn the impact of the Network as a whole.


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