Economic Security Corporation of Southwest Area

Our History

1964:  President Lyndon Johnson's declared "War on Poverty", and the subsequent passage of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.  Community Action Agencies were charged with the following:

  • Secure & retain meaningful employment
  • Attain an adequate education
  • Make better use of available income
  • Obtain and maintain adequate housing and a suitable living environment
  • Remove obstacles and solve problems which block the achievement of self-sufficiency
  • Achieve greater participation in the affairs of the community
  • Make more effective use of other programs


1965:  Economic Security Corporation of Southwest Area (ESC) was created as a private, not-for-profit Corporation to serve the needs of low-income individuals and families residing in Barton, Jasper, Newton and McDonald counties in Southwest Missouri. We began operations with two employees and a first year budget of $76,000.  Some of the first programs: summer Head Start,  Employment & Training and  Summer Youth Employment.

1970:   started Family Planning (Title X) services. 2018,  ESC's Women's Health and Family Planning services for women and men closed, after 48 years of services in SW Missouri.  

1976: President Carter added a new program,  Weatherization as a response to the energy crisis.  This service provided energy conservation practices to homes.

1981: President Reagan created the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) from the Community Services Act (CSA).

1986:  The Steward B. McKinney Act made the Homeless plight a national issue.  ESC started the first transitional housing and today is the lead agency in regards to the Jasper Newton County Continuum of Care and partner agency with The Homeless Coalition.

1994:  Economic Security Corporation added the role of the Jasper County Public Housing Agency program and their 342 Housing Choice Vouchers to the agency.   Today, they have 375 Housing Choice Vouchers.

1996:  Early Head Start serving pregnant moms & toddlers up to 3 years of age. 

1998:  ESC got involved with housing development, housing rehabilitation & became partners with a variety of private housing developers.  Projects included:  Historic Frisco Station apartments, Historic Drake Hotel,  Lamar Divine Estates,  Historic Zahn/Ridgway Apartments. Currently, Forest Park North and The Joplin Bunglows.

2011:  ESC was a lead agency for re-housing Joplin residents who were displaced from the May 2011 F-5 Tornado.

2014:  50 Years War on Poverty 

2020:  January 26, 2020,  The World Health Organization declared a World Global Pandemic.  ESC shut their doors as the Missouri Governor shut the state down the first April till May 6, 2020.  This was a tough year,  we continued to operate all of services virtually and by phone.

2021:  COVID-19 vaccinations began for some ESC staff and customers on January 8th.  State opened up vaccinations on April 29th.  Approximately 370 employees and a budget of $19,392,746, including in-kind donations.

Happy 40th Birthday to Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)



ESC is an agency that is constantly striving to eliminate poverty in the United States of America, a land that is not poor in resources but lacks moral conviction to wage an all-out war to end poverty. We are continuously developing pilot programs to positively affect the lives of the economically less fortunate. We invite you to enlist in the “war on poverty” with us.