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The Chinese-American Planning Council, then known as the Chinatown Planning Council, was founded in 1965 as a grassroots community-based organization in response to the tremendous influx of Chinese immigrants after the change in immigration laws, and in the midst of the Great Society movement. Initially, CPC volunteers counseled families referred by local schools, and provided case management services to help immigrants adjust to their new homes. Filling a void in the community as the first social service agency to serve Chinese-Americans in New York, CPC began to expand its services based on the needs expressed by those in the community.

In 1966, CPC launched its Head Start and youth programs for pre-school and school-age children. In 1970 it opened its first child care center; in 1971, it began its seminal youth program, Project Reach; and in 1972, it opened the ever-popular Project Open Door Senior Citizen Center. It helped construct two uniquely conceived senior citizen residential buildings, Everlasting Pine and Hong Ning. In 1975, it launched its employment & training services with the English Language Center, which provided new immigrants with badly needed job-readiness skills training and workplace English instruction. The Chinese-American Arts Council, a CPC subsidiary, was founded in 1975.

By 1983, CPC was providing home care services to senior citizens through its Home Attendant Program, which continues to burgeon as the population ages. The need of low English proficient, homebound seniors for language appropriate, culturally sensitive care prompted the launch of CPC's Mature Workers program to train home attendants, which also answered the need of middle aged workers to find low skill employment that didn't require English fluency.

Since the late 1970s, as gentrification of Chinatown pushed up rental costs, immigrants began to move to Brooklyn and Queens, and CPC followed suit, setting up Queens and Brooklyn offices and changing its name and vision from the Chinatown Planning Council to the Chinese-American Planning Council. The community continued to evolve in the 1990s, with the majority of undocumented immigrants flowing in from China's Fujian Province and facing challenges that are unique, yet similar to the trajectory of waves of earlier Chinese immigrants.

The tragedy of September 11th threw one-quarter of Chinatown's workforce out of work. CPC responded immediately by launching 9/11 relief services to help dislocated workers get access to emergency assistance, serving more clients than any other such program in the community (3,180) due to CPC's reputation and ability to refer clients in-house to its other services. As the economic
slump continued in the year after 9/11, CPC transitioned its 9/11 program to meeting long-term employment and training needs as well as ongoing case management needs, training over 800 clients and placing over 50%, a remarkable feat given the economic climate.

CPC has recently achieved accreditation of its childcare centers and received three licenses to open vocational and business schools. A new program enables clients who do not qualify for government assistance to pay for their own employment workshops and placement assistance. The Workforce
Development Division is enhancing its focus on health care training programs in keeping with client and market needs in the changing economy, and has introduced a new Food Protection program. In January 2005, CPC opened the Help Center to a one-stop multi-social services center to connect clients to services with a focus on mental health, while the Brooklyn Branch is conducting mental health outreach among community seniors.

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