In November 1965, a small group of committed, thoughtful people got together and created NEK-CAP, Inc., Northeast Kansas Community Action Program. The corporation was formed as a not-for-profit agency to combat poverty within the meaning of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. NEK-CAP was formed as a Non-Profit Organization in November 1965 to address poverty in Northeast Kansas. It started with six counties: Atchison, Brown, Doniphan, Jackson, Nemaha and Leavenworth. February 9, 1966, Mr. William Watkins was hired as the first Executive Director.
NEK-CAP's traditional strategies have been to mobilize federal, state, and local resources to help people address the problems of living in poverty and to help a percentage of these families achieve their highest level of self-sufficiency. These strategies have resulted in various funding sources, priorities, goals, and requirements dictating nearly all of NEK-CAP's activities and focuses.
NEK-CAP has touched and improved many lives. Some people have, against all odds, escaped poverty. Yet, of the 30,000 low-income people in our service area, we can only serve about 6,000. The poverty rate in our region, and throughout the country, has remained about the same over the past thirty-five years, in spite of various interventions.
NEK-CAP has finished its year-long transformational planning process in order to restructure our agency and pursue new strategies that have the promise of not only responding to the poverty in our region, but eliminating it within two or three generations. We believe it is crucial for our agency to establish this goal for all of the communities we serve. More people will receive the support and opportunities to escape poverty if we make a renewed commitment to our mission of eliminating poverty than if we focus our energy and activities on alleviating the effects of poverty.
We serve sixteen counties in Northeast/North Central Kansas and employ approximately 130 staff with administrative offices located in Hiawatha, KS. We celebrated our 50th Years of Service in November 2015.