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Summary of 2005 Successes
Ending Poverty Around the World
In 2005 RESULTS Global groups met face-to-face with 14 senators and 55 representatives. Activists also held 59 meetings with Senate aides, 169 meetings with aides of representatives, and generated hundreds of letters to their members of Congress. In addition, groups generated 51 editorials, 73 op-eds and news articles, 97 letters to the editor, 22 radio spots and 9 TV spots. These successes made change happen! But they are only part of the story as they do not reflect numerous letters not published, attempts to schedule meetings with members of Congress, hundreds of outreach events and group meetings, and the thousands of support calls that keep RESULTS citizen leaders informed and in action.
Access to Credit for the Very Poor
What we did: In 2005, thanks to the urging of RESULTS and that of our allies and key leaders in Congress, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) began moving toward more effectively reaching and targeting poor people with loans by developing new tools to measure the poverty levels of incoming clients. USAID will develop tools for roughly a dozen countries by October 2006 and certify and utilize them by October 2007, and will later phase in new tools for more than seventy countries in total.
In 2005 RESULTS also worked with congressional leaders to ensure that other donors and international financial institutions (IFIs), such as the World Bank, take similar steps to prioritize the very poor. IFIs have immense resources and are already doing work in the microenterprise arena. In 2005 RESULTS volunteers collected 87 signatures of members of Congress on House and Senate letters to the World Bank urging increased investment in microcredit for the very poor. The leaders on this effort are now working on meeting personally with the new World Bank president to follow up on their recommendations.
Outcomes: In early 2005, per the suggestion of RESULTS volunteers, Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) earmarked $20 million for microcredit programs within a supplemental funding bill designed to provide relief for the countries impacted by the tsunami. In addition, the final foreign aid funding bill provided $200 million for microcredit.
The Microcredit Summit Campaign, a project of RESULTS Educational Fund, reported in its 2005 State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report that as of December 2005, microcredit was reaching over 92 million clients globally, 66.6 million of who were among the poorest people on the planet when they took their first loan. Assuming five persons per family, those 66.6 million poorest clients additionally affected a third of a billion family members. The campaign reported that it will meet its goal of reaching 100 million of the world’s poorest families with credit and other business services soon after its target of the end of 2005.
Eliminating School Fees
What we did: RESULTS was closely involved in developing the Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act and is a leading member of the Global Action for Children Campaign that has advocated for the Orphans Act for the last two years. The Orphans Act is the first comprehensive response to the global orphans’ crisis and details the need for a wide range of services to include pediatric AIDS drug formulations, psychosocial support and the elimination of school fees, which are major barriers to education for AIDS orphans, girls, and other poor children. The Orphans Act also requires that a Special Advisor for Assistance to Orphans and Vulnerable Children be created within the U.S. government to coordinate all programs that involve orphans and vulnerable children in countries that receive U.S. development assistance to make this assistance more effective.
Outcomes: The Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act of 2005 became U.S. law on November 8, 2005! According to the law, within 180 days, the U.S. government must develop a plan for implementation. RESULTS has been actively involved in putting together civil society recommendations for decisions makers as this plan is being developed. This law not only emphasizes the immediate needs of food and medicine for the most vulnerable children, it also calls for the elimination of school fees and other barriers to education, offering children what they need to stay alive now and offering them a way to build their lives and their communities in the future.
In 2005, largely due to the efforts of RESULTS, $15 million was appropriated to help countries eliminate school fees, and an additional $15 million was appropriated for 2006. We are working to ensure that these funds be spent to directly support a country or countries to eliminate fees and get millions more children into school. Overall basic education funding went from $400 to $465 million, with this increase focused on a few countries with national education plans.
Global Health: Tuberculosis and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria
What We Did: The global health media generated by RESULTS grassroots activists around the country continued to raise public awareness of and support for international TB control programs and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM). RESULTS continued to work with high-level experts, allies and activists on the declaration of TB as a health emergency in Africa by African Ministers of Health and the World Health Organization in August. Immediately following the declaration, RESULTS Educational Fund hosted a telephone press briefing on the emergency featuring Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Helene Gayle of the Gates Foundation.
Outcomes: Thanks to congressional champions that RESULTS has help to build, particularly Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), we were pleased to see GFATM funding increase by more than $100 million from the 2004 appropriation and the final figure of $550 million nearly doubles the amount requested ($300 million) in the president’s budget.
Ending Poverty in the U.S.
In 2005, RESULTS domestic activists met face-to-face with 37 representatives and eight senators to discuss solutions to hunger and poverty in the United States. In addition, 61 domestic activists attended the RESULTS Educational Fund International Conference in Washington DC for intensive education, training and lobbying. RESULTS domestic groups also organized at least 71 outreach meetings or events and through these added 34 new activists to their groups. Activists participated in 11 national conference calls for training and education with an average attendance of 95 people from around the country. Domestic activists and staff generated three editorials, five op-ed pieces, 10 feature articles and more than 50 letters to the editor. Activists sent thousands of letters and generated hundreds of calls to their members of Congress.
What we did: Recognizing that access to health care is a huge barrier for over 45 million uninsured Americans, including 9 million children, in 2005 we continued a multi-year advocacy campaign to provide quality and affordable health care for all, by educating others and ourselves in our communities. Lack of quality and affordable health care for all causes and deepens poverty for millions of American families. Our efforts were spurred by a 2004 report by the experts at Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, recommending universal health coverage by 2010.
In addition to our education and outreach around health care issues, we fought attempts in Congress to cut important health programs such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The president’s initial budget proposed $40 billion in Medicaid cuts over ten years, in addition to cuts to the Food Stamp Program.
Outcomes: RESULTS worked with a broad coalition against budget reconciliation bills that included deep cuts to Medicaid. As the year ended, both House and Senate had passed a 2006 budget bill that cut $39 billion from mandatory domestic programs, including $27 billion in cuts over ten years cuts to Medicaid by allowing states to reduce benefits and require poor mothers and children to pay more for their health care. Nearly all the 28 million children who now benefit from Medicaid may lose services and/or pay more than their families can afford. Comprehensive care that now effectively prevents and treats child health problems would no longer be assured, even for the poorest children, and many deserving elderly who have no options other than nursing home care will not be able to afford it. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates 13 million poor recipients would face new costs and 65,000 enrollees would lose Medicaid coverage altogether. Advocates scored a victory by eliminating any cuts to the Food Stamp Program in the final budget package.This bill was reconsidered in the House early in 2006, and passed narrowly 216-214.
Most important, in 2005 we continued to build momentum for future work on health care for all, including connections and participation in community-based coalitions and a deeper understanding of health policy within our staff and volunteer activists.
Early Childhood Development
What we did: We continued our long-term strategy to break the cycle of poverty by expanding and improving early childhood education programs, including Head Start and funding for child care.
Head Start had been scheduled to be reauthorized in 2003 but was still operating under “temporary” extension during 2005. Over the past few years, RESULTS volunteers worked to expand and improve the quality of Head Start and opposed efforts to dismantle it over the past two years. We worked to highlight the dangers of shifting oversight of Head Start to the states, focusing on the dangers of losing the comprehensive services, including health and dental screenings, nutrition and parental involvement, essential to the success of Head Start for the past 38 years.
The mandatory funding of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is included in legislation authorizing the welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The 1996 TANF law, which was to have been reauthorized in 2001, was “temporarily” extended through 2005 under previous program standards. RESULTS activists urged their members of Congress to significantly increase mandatory CCDBG funding in the TANF bill.
Outcomes: We scored two victories on Head Start: The House voted to suspend the National Reporting System, inappropriate and invalid testing of Head Start children, and neither the House nor the Senate bill shifts oversight of Head Start to the states. The House passed a Head Start bill but the full Senate had not acted by the end of 2005 so the program was continued under previous law.
An extremely punitive and harmful TANF bill was passed by the House and then was incorporated into a budget reconciliation bill that narrowly passed the Senate 51-50, with the vice president casting the tie-breaking vote. The child care funding in this bill, technically a $500 million increase over five years, is insufficient to cover families affected by increased TANF work requirements. This was particularly disappointing given the 2004 Senate vote of 78-20 for the Snowe-Dodd amendment for substantially increased mandatory funding for the child care block grant. Early in 2006, the budget bill was reconsidered in the House and passed by the narrow margin of 216-214 and signed by the president on February 8, 2006. Unfortunately, this package includes welfare work participation changes that will result in 255,000 children from low-income working families losing child care assistance over the next five years.
Asset Strategies to End Poverty
What we did: RESULTS has long been a staunch advocate for effective initiatives to support low-income families in building assets in addition to income supports. We advocated for two of these initiatives, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and KIDS accounts. IDAs are special matched savings accounts that provide qualifying participants the opportunity to save for home ownership, education, or business capital. A provision to expand IDAs to 900,000 families was included in the president’s FY2006 budget proposal and is a part of the bipartisan Savings for Working Families Act in the Senate 95-5. We sought to have this provision included in legislation approved by both houses of Congress.
The bipartisan ASPIRE Act was reintroduced in Congress in 2005. ASPIRE will provide every U.S. child, at birth, a savings (KIDS) account that will provide millions of American children with security and opportunity. RESULTS volunteers educated their members of Congress and the media about this legislation.
Outcomes: Congress did not take action in 2005 on either the ASPIRE Act or the Savings for Working Families (IDA) Act. Our advocacy built momentum for action in 2006.