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- Education
- Income Maintenance
- Job Creation


The origins of the "war on poverty" began with the Kennedy Administration in 1963.

Walter W. Heller, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, under President Kennedy, went to see President Johnson the day after Kennedy's assassination and discussed the poverty program that Kennedy had approved before his death. President Johnson's immediate response was, "That's my kind of program? I want you to move full speed ahead."

Soon after Walter Heller's proposal, President Johnson launched an "unconditional war on poverty" during his 1964 State of The Union Address. On August 20, 1964 LBJ signed the Poverty Bill which created a new department (Office of Economic Opportunity) to begin the direct attack on the causes of poverty in the rural Appalachian region of America. Sargent Shriver was sworn in on October 16, 1964 to be the leader of this attack and the Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. The poverty program was the first major legislation originated by President Johnson and it was designed to make a coordinated attack on the multiple causes of poverty. The major attack on poverty, which consisted of one fifth of the nation's population at the time, can be broken down into three major weapons:

Weapon I - Education - "It is our primary weapon in the war on poverty and the principal tool for building a Great Society." Audio: Great Society speech
President Johnson believed that the improvement of education would help eliminate the causes of poverty. The following programs were designed to do just that and are still with us today.

Project Head Start (1965) - was designed as a compensatory program for economically deprived preschool children. Its purpose was to give them the educational, social, cultural, and medical attention provided to more fortunate children by their families.

Upward Bound (1965) - is an educational program whose purpose is to implant in low-income high school students a desire to go to college. It is aimed at young people who show college aptitude but who would not go to college without special encouragement.

Adult Basic Education (1965)
- was designed to give illiterate or uneducated adults sufficient instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic to qualify them for jobs or better jobs than they currently hold. It also included job training.

The Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965
- (see education module)

The Higher Education Act of 1965
- (see education module)

Weapon II - Income Maintenance - "The second prong on the attack on poverty is to protect individuals and their families from poverty when their own earnings are insufficient because of age, disability, unemployment, or other family circumstances."

Social Security Amendments of 1965 and 1967 - Congress in 1965 and 1967 enacted bills raising Social Security benefits and making major changes in the Social Security System. The 1965 bill only liberalized and expanded programs; the 1967 measure also wrote new restrictions into the welfare program.

Revenue Act of 1964 - The existing 18% withholding rate on income taxes was reduced to 14 % on enactment of the bill.

Minimum Wage Bill of 1966 - Congress enacted legislation substantially broadening federal minimum wage and overtime pay protection and increasing the minimum wage from $1.25 per hour to $1.60 per hour.

School Breakfast Program - This program started under the Child Nutrition Act of 1966. Federal money is provided for each breakfast served, depending on the family income of the participating child.

Special Milk Program - This program also began under the Child Nutrition Act of 1966. Federal reimbursements are offered for each half-pint of milk served to a child who is participating in a school or facility caring for children that does not participate in other federally subsidized meal programs.

Food Stamp Act of 1964 - Congress in 1964 enacted legislation converting the 1961 pilot food-stamp program into a permanent food-stamp program financed by the Federal Government. This program was designed to help poverty stricken families improve their diets.

Weapon III - Job Creation - "Our American answer to poverty is not to make the poor more secure in their poverty but to reach down and to help them lift themselves out of the ruts of poverty and move with the large majority along the high road of hope and prosperity"

Job Corps (1964) - provides residential centers for young men and women, ages 16 through 21, in a coordinated program of basic education, skill training, and constructive work experience. This was designed specifically to give education and work experience to high school drop-outs.

College Work Study Program (1964) - provides part-time and summer jobs for college students who would be unable to afford college education without such assistance.

The Neighborhood Youth Corps (1964) - provides employment, job counseling, and remedial education to low-income young people aged 16 through 21. This program aims to help participants to continue or resume their education and to increase their employability.

The Work Experience Program (1964) - is meant to benefit unemployed parents and other needy people--many on welfare--who suffer from educational deficiencies and a sporadic work history. Participants are provided vocational instruction and on-the-job training, as well as basic educational and personal counseling.

Manpower Act of 1965 - provided retraining for experienced workers with family responsibilities who had been employed but had lost their jobs because of technological change. It also provided help for the illiterate jobless, out-of-school and out-of-work youths 16 years and older. Individuals who lacked basic education were included.


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