On January 8, 1964 President Lyndon Johnson declared an unconditional war on poverty. In Johnson’s State of the Union speech he declared that, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America … Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.”

Later that same year, the Economic Opportunity Act was signed into law and Community Action was born. Community Action continues to work to uphold Johnson’s vision which was to:

“Eliminate the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty in this nation by opening, to everyone, the opportunity for education and training, the opportunity to work, and the opportunity to live in decency and dignity."

Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership was incorporated on August 2, 1965 as Clay-Wilkin Opportunity Council, Inc. (CWOC). Our organization has grown and changed since our inception to in an effort to meet the needs of our unique community.   

Community Action

1960’s – Agency was incorporated, and the first staff were hired, including an Executive Director, James Moulsoff, a bookkeeper, a secretary. Offices were established in the Old Post office building located at 521 Main Avenue in Moorhead. First staff were hired. Organization received funding to begin a Summer Head Start Program in local elementary school classrooms, hired outreach workers to help identify those in need, started an alcoholism counseling and referral program, and began a Neighborhood Youth Program to employ low-income youth.

1970’s –Dennis Heitkamp was brought on board as Executive Director. Programming expanded to including the addition of Home Based Head Start, Senior Citizens Program, Food Stamp Program, National youth Corps program, Community Education, WIC, Family Planning, Legal Services, and the broadening of rural library services (LARL).

1980’s – Offices relocated to 2700 12th Ave S. Moorhead, and an office was opened in Breckenridge. Low-Income Energy Assistance, the Home Weatherization program, Housing Renovation projects, Commodity Distribution Program, Self-Sufficiency Program, continued expansion of the Head Start program, Child Care Resource & Referral (CCRR) program of Region 4 which served nine counties.

1990’s – Offices and Head Start Classrooms were relocated to the Family Service Center of Clay County, which was developed as a co-location of services for low-income families. Rainbow Bridge Safe Exchange Visitation Center came into existence, CCRR’s service area grew to 22 counties in Minnesota and 24 counties in North Dakota, and a combined Housing/Self-Sufficiency program came into existence. Daily Discoveries child care center was operated from the Family Service Center.

2000’s – Joe Pederson was hired as Executive Director. In March 2003, CWOC became Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership, Inc. The name change reflects a continually widening geographic service area. Child Care Resource & Referral program and Housing Programs grew to include Transitional Housing. New programs and services included FAIM, Financial Fitness, VITA Tax Clinics, Child Care Assistance Administration, Early Learning Scholarships, and Food Support Outreach.

2010’s – Lori Schwartz was promoted to Executive Director. Housing Programs continued to grow to add Permanent Supportive Housing, Homeless Youth Services, Housing Supports, and Coordinated Entry through the CARES program. First ever property was purchased by the organization and services expanded to South Moorhead at 861 Belsly Blvd. New programs and services include Homebuyer Education, MNSure Navigation, Homeowner Counseling, and Somali Child Care Project.

Today, Lakes and Prairies operates more than 30 programs and services focused on low-income children and families as well as programs and other efforts to engage communities in discussion and activities that eliminate poverty. We continue to build on our mission to Eliminate Poverty by Empowering Families and Engaging Communities. 

Contact Us:
  • Phone (218) 512-1500
  • Fax: (844) 215-7287
  • Email
Walk-in Services:
  • 715 11th St. N. Suite 101
  • Moorhead, MN 56560
Mailing Address:
  • 891 Belsly Boulevard
    Moorhead, MN  56560
Wilkin County Office:

311 5th Street S.
Breckenridge, MN 56520
(218) 512-1500