Community organizations and engaged citizens were already working proactively for change in early 1968. The Southbridge Medical Advisory Committee compiled demographics and sought community engagement in plans for a community health clinic. Neighborhood-based organizations, such as the Northeast Conservation Association (NECA), brought together churches and community members to address problems with housing, employment, youth outreach, and poverty assistance.
Groups such as NECA were able to take advantage of regionally administered OEO funds to help offset their work in conjunction with local financial support from groups like the Greater Wilmington Development Council. The use of funds for political activities was prohibited under OEO regulation, sometimes complicating the relationship between the work of these organizations and the convictions of their staff.