The Economic Opportunity Authority for Savannah-Chatham County Board of Directors has named Terry Tolbert Interim Executive Director. Tolbert was formerly Deputy Director and has been with the agency since 1973.
The EOA was established in 1965 with joint resolutions from the City of Savannah, Chatham County Government and the Chatham County Board of Public Education as a community action agency. Initial funding was provided by the federal government under then President Lyndon B. Johnson. The agency has a tri-part board with one-third of its members representing poor communities, one-third appointed by local government agencies and the final third from the private sector.
With a current annual operating budget of approximately 15 million dollars, local EOA programs include Head Start, Early Head Start, Workforce Development, Job Training, Special Needs Housing, Home Buyer Education, Mortgage Delinquency and Foreclosure Prevention Counseling, Rental Assistance, Low Income Heating and Cooling Assistance, Payee Representative
Programs, Volunteer Programs for Seniors, and Tax Preparation for Low Income Families. These services are provided to over 5000 households and exceed 10,000 people who directly and indirectly are impacted by the work of the agency.
Regular funding is mostly federal with some pass-through from the state as well as the City of Savannah and private entities.
Additionally, EOA has received a one-time funding of nearly 2.5 million dollars for COVID 19. These funds will be specifically used for Head Start/ Early Head Start, Low-Income Energy Assistance, and Community Services Block Grants.
Tolbert’s appointment comes after a lifetime of EOA experience and leadership. As a teenager, he was the youngest member of its Board of Directors. He served on the Region IV Youth council covering eight southern states, and was one of only two individuals from Georgia appointed by the President at that time and funded over six million dollars to provide training to youth throughout the region.
A Savannah native, Tolbert graduated from Richard Arnold High School, and Savannah State University with a Masters in Public Administration. He has sat on various Boards and Professional Associations including as the current Chairman of the Chatham County Board of Tax Assessors and past Chairman of the Chatham County Hospital Authority.