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Community Services Block Grant Program

Department of Commerce
Telephone: 360.725.2903
E-mail: csbg@commerce.wa.gov

State Website: http://www.commerce.wa.gov/serving-communities/community-opportunities/community-services-block-grants/

Participation: 137,956 participants were served by workforce development programs in the Community Services Block Grant program between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016.

Who is Served: Residents with incomes at or below 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Level are eligible (about $2,530 monthly income for a family of four).

Program Description: The purpose of the program is to encourage local communities to establish goals and solutions that address the causes of poverty. Funds support the costs of implementing comprehensive local plans designed to eliminate barriers to self-sufficiency among needy residents. The grant supports activities and services provided by Community Action Agencies (CAA’s) across Washington. Some of these services include: housing assistance, energy assistance, emergency services, education, job readiness counseling, job placement assistance, nutrition, asset development, and transportation services.

Other Program Characteristics:

  • Funded activities are tied to long-term accountability measures with federal, state, and local private and public funders.
  • Community Action Agencies collaborate with and support a variety of workforce development initiatives at the local level.
  • Community action strengthens the social service infrastructure necessary for employment.
  • Empowers low-income families to become self-sufficient through a network of public and nonprofit agencies.

Program History: The Community Services Block Grant was originally funded through the Office of Economic Opportunity as created by Congress in 1964.  Funds and policies were transferred to the Federal Department of Health and Human Services in 1981, which continues to administer the block grant to states, territories, and tribes.

Planning Cycle: Two-year state plan, with annual local plans provided by grantees utilizing information from local area community needs assessments.

Outcome Measures: The Washington State CSBG Network addresses conditions of poverty that create barriers to economic security for its residents. Listed below are some of the 2016 outcomes measured:

  • 137,956 low-income participants obtained supportive services, which reduced or eliminated barriers to employment, acquired a job, obtained an increase in employment income, or achieved living wage employment and benefits.
  • 96,141 low-income, vulnerable individuals received services from the CSBG Network and secured and/or maintained an independent living situation as a result.
  • 794,780 low-income individuals and families received emergency assistance from the CSBG Network through Washington.
  • 20,678 low-income households achieved an increase in financial assets or financial skills as a result of CSBG Network assistance.
  • 60,592 Community members and low-income people mobilized to engage in activities that support and promote their own well-being and that of their community as a direct result of CSBG Network initiatives, or advocacy with other public and private agencies.

Funding and Regional Division: The Department of Commerce grants federal and state CSBG funds with 30 Community Action Agencies (CAA’s) that address the causes and conditions of poverty in each community throughout the state.  Each CAA must submit an annual Community Action Plan that details how they intend to meet the needs of their community.  Because CAA’s have a central focus on the community they serve, they are able to mobilize resources that combat causes and conditions of poverty and address social issues that may arise.  Funds are distributed by a formula developed in collaboration with the Washington State Community Action Partnership.  CSBG funds are allocated through a needs-based formula that includes U.S. Census data according to the number of individuals in a specific service area, living at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level.


State Funding: State and federal data are not tracked separately.  See below for total state and federal funds used for workforce development programs.

Federal Funding: $1,100,656 (January-December 2015 Federal and July-June 2016 State) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Washington State General Fund for workforce development programs from the overall block grant budget.

Statutory Authority: Federal-Public Law 112-10. Administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, and Washington State Department of Commerce.


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