The Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC) was incorporated in 1966 as a non-profit human service organization. In 1968, BCAC was designated as the anti-poverty Community Action Agency for Berkshire County, Massachusetts to stimulate the response of area communities to the needs of low-income, elderly and working poor people. The primary purpose of BCAC is to promote the well-being of low-income people in all of the cities and towns of Berkshire County, the western-most county in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that borders Vermont on the north, New York State on the west and Connecticut on the south. Berkshire County covers some 947 square miles, encompassing 32 cities and towns with a population of 130,000.
The area underwent a dramatic change in its economic base during the late 1970s and 1980s when two of its largest industrial employers—the General Electric Company in Pittsfield and the Sprague Electric Company in North Adams severely curtailed or closed components of their operations in Berkshire County. As a result, the unemployment rate soared some 10% percent, and families qualifying for assistance increased dramatically. As a result, many people turned to BCAC for support until they could once again achieve self-sufficiency.
Over the years, BCAC has not only supported people and families in financial need, but also sought out the causes of poverty and worked to change negative perceptions of the poor and to remove the stigma attached to receiving BCAC services. The Council also attempts to broaden the skills, knowledge and motivation among Berkshire communities and families to assist all people in claiming the right to live with dignity and the opportunity and responsibility to achieve self-sufficiency by opening opportunities for education, job training and safe, affordable housing.