Agency History

Building Community, Changing Lives

war on povertyFrom Building Stability to Creating Economic Growth

Community Teamwork is a private, non-profit corporation established in 1965 under the Economic Opportunity Act to serve low-income people in our community. It was part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty under his “Great Society.” As a Community Action Agency, our mission was to help the poor help themselves out of poverty by giving them the tools and services they needed. Our core service area includes Greater Lowell – Lowell, Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro and Westford – and Middlesex and Essex Counties for a total reach of 63 cities and towns.

In its early years, Community Teamwork provided advocacy, job training, pre-school education, nutrition programs and elderly volunteer activities to communities in Greater Lowell. Later, services such as early care and education, fuel assistance and weatherization assistance were added, along with affordable housing and shelters for the homeless. Despite an ever changing economic climate and a shift in the basic mission of CAAs, Community Teamwork continued to grow by providing multiple services to large areas of the state including Section 8 in all of the Merrimack Valley, Fuel Assistance as far away as Waltham, Child Care programs in Wakefield, and Child Care Referral Services in the area west and southwest of Boston. In the 1980’s Community Teamwork opened two Homeless Family Shelters and expanded Child Care operations, established a Community Anti-Crime program and a Child Care Search Program. By the 1990’s, Community Teamwork was running programs funded by grants and contracts totaling well over $40M. The Agency was able to buy and convert a 67,000 square foot building into a 24 classroom state-of-the-art Head Start Facility, and to purchase the Headquarters building at 167 Dutton Street. Community Teamwork also was able to help smaller, fledgling human service non-profits by acting as a fiscal agent and, in some cases, a mentor.

Today, Community Teamwork’s mission has expanded to include the recognition of our leadership role as a change agent and the critical value of forming strong partnerships:

Community Teamwork is a catalyst for social change. We strengthen communities and reduce poverty by delivering vital services and collaborating with key stakeholders to create housing, education and economic opportunities.

To this end, we are developing new ways to help people in crisis, to house the homeless and create first-time homebuyers; to weatherize homes to reduce the cost of heating them and to develop and construct affordable housing in the Greater-Lowell area; to educate 1,500 children and help their parents to become involved in the children’s education; to serve 5,000 pre- and post natal women and their children with nutrition education and food; to help young people who have dropped out of school to get their GED’s and learn how to build houses; to provide 10,000 households with assistance to pay their fuel bills in a time of rising energy prices, to enable 400 elderly to volunteer their time and talents in the community; to help parents to pay for child care; to administer 2,000 housing subsidies, to help hundreds of low-income people start a small business; and to help immigrant farmers grow and sell crops designed for their ethnic communities.

We have come a long way, but there is still much to do.