Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity
The Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity (JCCEO) is a non-profit Community Action Agency (CAA) which administrates programs in Jefferson County enabled by Title II of the federal Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The agency distributes funds awarded through Community Services Block Grants, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance utility grants, Weatherization Assistance Program funds, Head Start pre-school programs, and other federal programs. In 2018 the JCCEO employed around 500 people with an annual budget of about $30 million.
The committee was incorporated on January 21, 1965 as the Birmingham Area Committee for Development of Economic Opportunity. Before it began administering programs in December of that year, it had already expanded its scope as part of an agreement between the City of Birmingham and Jefferson County. A priority of the new organization was the establishment of "Neighborhood Service Centers" with their own Neighborhood Advisory Councils. In addition to its direct impact, the JCCEO's participatory structure provides opportunities for disadvantaged residents to develop leadership and administrative skills.
Since the 1990s the JCCEO has been headquartered in the former Graymont Elementary School at 300 8th Avenue West, which it shares with the Arrington Head Start Center. The executive director is Sharon Myles.
President Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" legislation, as drafted by Sargent Shriver, established separate committees which included residents of impoverished neighborhoods rather than relying on local governments to distribute funding. That intent was undercut by later amendments which added more local officials and business owners to CAA boards. Many more funding cuts and legislative changes came during the Reagan and Bush administrations.
In 2006 former Jefferson County Commission member Jeff Germany was convicted of directing nearly $500,000 to allies through the JCCEO, much of which was returned to him and his son in the form of kickbacks. In 2014 former executive director Gayle Cunningham and her daughter, Kelli Caulfield pleaded guilty in federal court of stealing nearly $500,000 in funds intended for distribution through the JCCEO.
- Gayle Cunningham, 1990-March 2013
- Marquita Davis, March 2013-April 2017
- DePriest Waddy, May 2017-September 2019
- Charles Faulkner (interim), September-November 2019
- Sharon Myles, November 2019-
Head Start Centers
- Arrington Head Start Center, 300 8th Avenue West
- Center Point Head Start Center, 2209 Center Point Parkway
- Cooper Green Early Head Start Center, 1501 Arthur Shores Drive
- Elyton Child Development Center, 432 Center Street North
- Fairmont Head Start Center, 4217 Lewisburg Road
- Festival Head Start Center, 6701 Crestwood Boulevard
- St Francis Head Start Center, 2410 7th Avenue North Bessemer
- Great Start Child Development Center, 5200 Bessemer Super Highway
- Hard Elementary School, 2801 Arlington Avenue
- St Joseph's Head Start Center, 1105 30th Street Ensley
- Kingston Center, 801 46th Street North
- Leeds Head Start Center, 7335 Ruth Avenue
- Lipscomb Junior High School, 5605 10th Street South Lipscomb
- Midfield Elementary School, 416 Parkwood Street
- Craig Pouncey Head Start Center
- Sherman Heights Early Head Start Center, 2000 Pleasant Hill Road
- Tarrant Elementary School, 1269 Portland Street
- West Center Street Head Start Center, 1712 3rd Street Southwest
- YWCA Birmingham, 309 23rd Street North
Senior Nutrition Centers
- Hoopersville Senior Nutrition Center, 3901 4th Street West
- Midfield Senior Nutrition Center, 589 Bessemer Super Highway
- Wylam Senior Nutrition Center, 4600 7th Avenue Wylam
- Faulk, Kent (March 26, 2014) "Former JCCEO executive director Gayle Cunningham sentenced to 2 years in prison for $500,000 theft from agency." The Birmingham News
- Rebman, Stephanie (November 15, 2019) "JCCEO names new executive director." Birmingham Business Journal
- JCCEO website