In 1965, CAA of Dona Ana County was chartered as a private, nonprofit corporation (501(c)(3) in New Mexico,  a direct result of the community action movement under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (EOA) and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  CAA programs have included a number of initiatives that later launched as independent nonprofits or were absorbed by a larger organization: Head Start, Meals on Wheels, Neighborhood Centers, Planned Parenthood Family Planning,  School Drop-Out Prevention, Tutoring, English as a Second Language, GED programs, Outreach Services, Day Care Programs at Community Centers, Winterization/Energy Conservation, Alcoholism Programs, Food Stamps Certification, Income Tax Assistance, 4-H Sparks (Special Programs Assistance for Responsible Kids), the WIN Program, Drug Information Rewards Program, ManPower Delivery Services, Well Baby Clinic, Community Development Housing Programs, Arts and Crafts Classes, and the Farmer’s Market in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall.

In 1991, CAA of Dona Ana County became the Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico (CAASNM). While the organization’s name changed, its commitment to mobilizing communities, representing the poor, and voicing community concerns did not. Today CAASNM continues its legacy of service by focusing its efforts on high- impact strategies that enhance sustainability through asset-building programs and connecting clients to care. In 2012 the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) selected CAASNM as a Lead Local Organization, tasked with advancing economic development as part of a national effort. CAASNM is the only designated Lead Local Organization in the entire state of New Mexico.

CAASNM currently serves the southwestern New Mexican counties of Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Sierra, Luna, and Grant, with limited services in other southern NM counties and statewide.