On August 25, 1965 the Marshall Morgan Community Action Committee was incorporated to serve poor families in Marshall and Morgan County. Its main objective was to identify the needs of the poor and develop an organization and resource development strategy to meet those needs identified. Its first director was S.M. Dollar, a retired Army Officer from the Tennessee Valley area, who retired in mid-1968 and was replaced by Mary Chambers. Lawrence County was annexed into the service area in 1968 and in October 1969, Marshall County withdrew to form its own organization.
Early activities of the organization included:
- Information and referral services
- Emergency food and medical service
- Community organization
- Self-help program development
- Summer Head Start
In June of 1970, Mary Chambers resigned and the Board of Directors hired Thomas M. Wood III as her replacement. Mr. Wood assumed the helm of a struggling agency plagued with interagency coordination issues and a service delivery system accused of fast-shuffling clients and making brief referrals. During this decade, Head Start services expanded from a Summer Head Start Program to a Full-day/Full-year Head Start Program serving Morgan and Lawrence Counties. In 1975, the Agency provided Meals-on-wheels service to Morgan, Lawrence and Cullman County through an initiative of the Alabama Pensions and Securities System. In 1976, the agency officially adopted the name of Morgan Lawrence Community Action Committee.
Services during this decade included:
- FD/FY Head Start
- Manpower employment services
- Emergency food and medical service
- Summer feeding programs
In 1981, the Foster Grandparent program added the Senior Companion program to its National Older American Volunteer Program list of services. Later in 1981, the Morgan Lawrence Community Action Committee added Comprehensive Housing Counseling and Section 9 and 18 Transportation Services to its portfolio of services to help low-income people move out of poverty. In 1982, Alabama Pension and Security eliminated State funding for the Meals-on-wheels program and a Decatur church affiliated organization, the Committee on Church Cooperation, stepped in with local community funding to continue the work of the Meals-on-wheels program in Morgan County. In 1986, Cullman County was annexed into the service area of the Morgan Lawrence Community Action Committee and its name was changed to Morgan Lawrence Cullman Community Action Agency on September 19, 1985.
Services in the 1980’s included:
- Comprehensive Housing Counseling (1981)
- FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter (1983)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program - LIHEAP (1984)
- Exxon Oil Overcharge Fund Program – EHEAP (1986)
- Weatherization - Department of Energy (1986)
- USDA Commodity Food Distribution (1986)
- Discretionary programs fund through a State General Fund appropriation (1987)
The 1990’s generated significant growth. Head Start of Cullman County merged with the Morgan Lawrence Cullman Community Action Agency Head Start program in 1989. Winston and Blount County Head Start was added by expansion in 1991. Marion, Franklin, and Colbert County Head Start joined the agency as a result of a competitive bidding process. In May of 1994, Morgan Lawrence Cullman Community Action Agency changed its name to the Community Action Agency of North Central Alabama, Inc. then to Community Action and Community Development Agency of North Alabama, Inc. in July of 1996. Also in 1996, East Coast Migrant Head Start contracted with the Community Action and Community Development Agency of North Alabama to provide Migrant Head Start Services to Blount County migrant families - this contract ended in 2003. In 1999, the Partnership produces its first affordable housing complex in Morgan County Alabama.
From 2001 to 2010, the agency saw another decade of growth and change. The Community Action and Community Development Agency of North Alabama added Early Head Start classrooms in Morgan and Blount Counties in 2001, Alabama Pre K classrooms were added in Blount, Morgan and Cullman Counties in 2002.
In 2004, the Weatherization Program expanded into Marion and Winston Counties, and in 2008 to Walker County. In 2004, the agency changed its name to the Community Action Partnership of North Alabama and adopted the current national brand to better align its identity with the national network.
In 2005, long-term CEO Tom Wood retired and the Board of Directors selected Michael Tubbs as the agency’s fourth executive director and CEO.
In 2008 the agency took on responsibility for Head Start classrooms in Marshall, Jackson, Cherokee, and DeKalb counties, adding over 100 new employees and 737 children to the existing Head Start Program.
In 2010, after a rigorous and lengthy effort, the company was approved and chartered as an affiliate of NeighborWorks America. In early 2010 the Lead Team of the agency developed its first strategic plan in conjunction with establishing a vision, value statement and refreshed mission statement.
From 2011 to 2018 the company continued to grow and add additional Head Start classrooms by taking on the responsibility to serve in Madison and Limestone Counties.
In 2013 the Florence City Board of Education relinquished the Lauderdale County Head Start/Early Head Start grant and that county was added which increased the Head Start footprint to 17 north Alabama counties. The company also was heavily involved in post-tornado recovery in west and north Alabama which resulted in hundreds of residents being restored to pre-2011 housing conditions.
From 2011 to 2018 the Housing Business Unit added over 300 units of affordable housing and developed subdivisions in Montgomery and Decatur. Block and Street makeovers during NeighborWorks Week were held since 2013 in Decatur, Alabama, results in many dozens of homes being rehabilitated.
The company has grown its partnerships across the region which has enabled a much stronger and more viable impact. Employees have participated in a Covey based Leadership Academy which is an investment in dozens of emerging leaders across all programs. A major accomplishment in this decade has been by the employees as individual commitments to United Way has increased from just over $5,000 a year to over $35,000 a year.
Led by an 18 member Board of Directors and 10 advisors, the company continues to fulfill its mission through multiple funding sources, hundreds of volunteers and valuable partnerships, and over 500 dedicated employees. From senior programs to educating young children, from meals to the doorstep and developing quality, affordable housing, from energy conservation to developing homeowners, from moving people out of crisis to enabling families to move out of poverty and changing whole communities, The Partnership changes lives and improves communities.
Today the Partnership exists to be the premier and preferred non-profit partner in Alabama and works daily to reduce or eliminate the causes and consequences of poverty. We do this by producing results in low-income families through a comprehensive portfolio of services and community partnerships.