Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity

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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.

Executive directors

Facilities

Head Start Centers

Senior Nutrition Centers

Other facilities

References

  • 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

External links