In late 1965 a group of citizens from Winona County came together to discuss poverty in their county.
They had heard about federal legislation, called the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which made possible the formation of Community Action Agencies across the United States and charged these agencies with fighting the “War on Poverty.” The Winona County group formed the Winona Citizens Action Council in hopes of accessing funding to help those living in poverty in their county.
When the council was informed that only multi-county proposals would be funded, they approached Fillmore County and Houston County. In June 1966, the Southeastern Minnesota Citizen’s Action Council became a private, nonprofit corporation. The agency began with a planning and development grant of about $30,000.
SEMCAC, Inc. became the agency’s legal name when Dodge County and Steele County joined the agency in 1975. Mower County became the sixth county of the agency’s service area on June 25, 1985. In 1995 the “Inc.” was dropped and the agency’s legal name became “Semcac.” The commissioners of Freeborn County designated Semcac as their county’s Community Action Agency beginning January 1, 2004, after state funding cuts in 2003 had forced the previous agency to close.
At the agency’s founding, the City of Rushford offered to house Semcac’s headquarters for no charge in the city’s Tew Memorial Building. As the agency grew, two additional sites in Rushford were used for Head Start and Senior Programs’ administrative staff. In 1992, Semcac purchased a large building in Rushford so that the agency’s administrative staff and program headquarters could again come together under one roof. In addition to the Administrative Office in Rushford, Semcac can be found at 7 county contact centers, 4 food shelves, 16 Head Start locations, 58 Senior Dining sites, and the Semcac Clinic in Winona.
Download & read a more detailed version of the history of Semcac- Agency History.