In 1962 – prior to Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty – The "Gray Areas Project" was the first attempt to combat poverty across America. In Boston, ABCD was created to distribute the private-sector funds. By the time Johnson's Economic Opportunity Act passed in 1964, ABCD was already firmly established as Boston's center for this kind of work, and officially became Boston's antipoverty agency.

Today, ABCD is the largest independent, private, 501(c)3 non-profit human services agency in New England, serving Boston through its unique network of 15 neighborhood centers across the city.

ABCD Timeline 1961-1965


Committed Boston residents, with support from Mayor Collins of the City of Boston and the Permanent Charity Fund, establish Boston Community Development Program (BCDP) to improve quality of life for city residents


ABCD receives first unrestricted grant from Permanent Charity Fund and first major federal grant for a Youth Employment and Training Program.
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President Lyndon B. Johnson signs historic Economic Opportunity Act of 1964
Nation’s first comprehensive neighborhood community health center is established by Tufts University in cooperation with ABCD at the Columbia Point Housing Project. Later Senator Kennedy made it a national system through an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act.
BCDP is incorporated as Action for Boston Community Development, a prototype for urban “human renewal” agencies with initial funding from the Ford Foundation ($1.9 million).
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Melnea Cass
ABCD Incorporator
Congress passes the Economic Opportunity Act and Boston designates ABCD as its official antipoverty agency. Later, the Board of Directors is reorganized and broadened to include most neighborhoods. The unique neighborhood-based Area Planning Action Council (APAC) system is established following identification of 11 target neighborhoods of acutely concentrated poverty. The Foster Grandparent Program and Head Start Program begin.

ABCD History 1966-1971 >>