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Summary of 2009 Successes
Empowering Grassroots Activism
What we did: The combined efforts of our staff and our grassroots activists drive our successes. In 2009, we held numerous local and national outreach events to attract new activists into RESULTS and trained and supported them to speak powerfully about effective poverty solutions to their communities, members of Congress, and the media.
Outcomes: Our outreach staff started 14 new grassroots RESULTS groups in 2009. With the support of RESULTS/REF staff, our activists:
Each meeting, published piece, and community event inspires our activists to further engage in our democracy, while inspiring our leaders to address the injustices of unnecessary poverty.
Ending Poverty Around the World
What We Did: The global TB epidemic continues to be one of the biggest consequences and causes of poverty, illness, and death. In 2009, RESULTS focused on building support for bilateral and multilateral funding for global TB control, including funding through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Grassroots volunteers played an important role.
As well as our grassroots’ efforts to educate the public and members of Congress, REF engaged grass-tops experts. Dr. Paul Farmer, from Partners in Health, led a national conference call on October 17 as part of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Following the call, grassroots activists across the country spoke with their representatives, which resulted in 98 members of Congress signing a letter to President Obama in support of the Global Fund. Grassroots advocacy also inspired 17 senators to sign a letter to Senate appropriators requesting $2 billion for the Global Fund for FY10.
To raise awareness about U.S. commitments to bilateral TB funding and the Global Fund, REF brought TB-HIV patient-advocate Lucy Chesire, of the Kenya AIDS NGO’s Consortium, to Washington, D.C. Ms. Chesire shared the story of her struggles with TB and HIV at a briefing with staff from the House Foreign Affairs Committee working on global health issues and with foreign affairs advisors to Reps. Nita Lowey and Nancy Pelosi. Voice of America (VOA) also interviewed her for VOA Swahili.
Outcomes: The year ended with proof that congressional sign-on letters are a powerful way to move legislation on Capitol Hill. Our activists inspired 41 members of Congress to sign a letter written by Reps. Donald Payne and Don Young calling for full funding for global TB. As a direct result, the House Appropriations Committee added $50 million to global TB appropriations for FY10, for a total of just over $250 million. This is a historic high water mark and especially remarkable in a year when many accounts were flat-funded.
The Global Fund ultimately received $1.05 billion for FY10, lower than our goal, but still $105 million more than the previous year. In addition, Dr. Joanne Carter, RESULTS/REF’s executive director, was selected to serve as the Developed Country Delegation Board Member to the Global Fund Board, which gives us an exciting opportunity to have an even larger role in supporting the Global Fund and serving communities struggling with AIDS, TB, and malaria.
REF also made progress against TB through its work with the ACTION (Advocacy to Control Tuberculosis Internationally) project, an international partnership of advocates working to mobilize resources to fight TB. Compared to 2007 funding figures, ACTION partners in five donor countries (United States, Canada, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom) helped increase resources to combat TB by almost $300 million in 2008 and 2009. During the same time, contributions to the Global Fund showed a cumulative increase of more than $620 million. ACTION partners in high burden countries (India and Kenya) successfully submitted Round 9 proposals with ambitious TB plans to the Global Fund.
A new report released by REF/ACTION is helping to improve government and organizational responses to TB-HIV co-infection across the globe. The report, Living with HIV, Dying of TB: A Critique of the Response of Global AIDS Donors to the Co-epidemic, found that efforts to address TB-HIV co-infection are modest at best and non-existent at worst.
What We Did: We began 2009 by making the announcement that the Microcredit Summit Campaign (MCS) had surpassed its 10-year goal of reaching 100 million very poor clients with microcredit. RESULTS grassroots groups helped generate more than 40 pieces of media publicizing the announcement, including 7 editorials and 14 op-ed placements. REF also organized a briefing for congressional staff featuring MCS director Sam Daley-Harris and Ingrid Munro, founder of Jamii Bora, a revolutionary microfinance organization in Kenya.
Throughout the year, we advocated for increased U.S. foreign assistance for microfinance and that 50 percent of those funds be used for the very poor. We also intensified efforts to compel the World Bank to increase its investment in effective microfinance programs and to ensure that at least half of those resources directly benefit those living on $1.25 or less per day.
And in conjunction with the Microenterprise Coalition, RESULTS advocated for foreign aid reform that increases access to financial services for those most in need.
Outcomes: RESULTS’ efforts led 47 representatives to sign microfinance letter by Reps. Holt and Moran to House appropriators requesting $500 million for microfinance and microenterprise programs in FY10. This letter was critical in increasing funding from $245 to $265 million in a year when pressure to keep foreign assistance down was great. The appropriation included language that supports the goal of ensuring 50 percent of microfinance funds help the very poor and requests an increased focus on sub-Saharan Africa.
Achieving Education for All
What We Did: Throughout 2009, RESULTS, REF, and our activists built support for one of President Obama’s campaign promises — a $2 billion global education fund. This pledge represents a huge opportunity to ensure that all children have the chance to go to school and learn.
REF staff met with members of the Obama transition team in January 2009 to discuss a new multilateral Global Fund for Education. We then generated media coverage through grassroots and grass-tops efforts. Our activists generated nearly 70 pieces of media calling for a Global Fund for Education. Grass-tops efforts included a press conference with Queen Rania of Jordan and a media call with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, both in conjunction with the Global Campaign for Education.
With the U.S. Chapter of the Global Campaign for Education, which REF now hosts, we educated members of Congress about the need to establish a Global Fund for Education. This included organizing a Global Education Week policy roundtable with Queen Rania, Rep. Nita Lowey, and Gene Sperling and Gayle Smith, both from the Obama administration. We also organized a sign-on letter from global leaders in support of the Fund. Signers included Nobel Peace Prize laureates Desmond Tutu and Mohammed Yunus, Queen Rania of Jordan, and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson. Meanwhile, our activists secured 26 signers on a letter initiated by Rep. Adam Smith to President Obama, calling on the G8 to publicly pledge to create a Global Fund for Education by the 2010 G8 meeting.
Outcomes: REF played a major leadership role in shaping U.S. efforts to promote a Global Fund for Education and, in doing so, laid critical groundwork for 2010. By catalyzing support for a Fund among grassroots activists and organizations, we created a groundswell of popular opinion for this initiative. This has led to important strides by Congress to pursue presidential leadership. Report language in the 2010 House Foreign Operations budget notes “the growing support for a Global Fund for Education and . . . encourages the Administration to consider how . . . [its] leadership and resources can support the attainment of the Education for All Goals.”
By building and subsequently being asked to house the U.S. chapter of the Global Campaign for Education, an international coalition that is driving the efforts to reach universal basic education worldwide, we’ve championed a coordinated action plan which is primed to leverage opportunities in 2010 around the World Cup 1Goal: Education for All Campaign and the U.N. Millennium Summit in September.
Our results were also immediately tangible, as RESULTS activists advocated for increased U.S. aid for basic education. For FY10, $925 million was appropriated for education, an increase of $225 million over the FY09 level.
Ending Poverty in the U.S.
Health Care for All
What We Did: Lack of access to quality, affordable healthcare is a major problem for 46 million uninsured Americans, including 8 million children, and millions more of underinsured Americans. In 2009, we continued to push Congress to enact health care reform that meets the needs of the most vulnerable amongst us. RESULTS is committed to reform that paves the way to a national health care program — Medicare for All. While that remains our long-term goal, our mission during the 2009 health care debates was to raise health care for the poor as a critical element of reform.
In particular, our activists advocated for a strengthening of Medicaid to cover all lower-income Americans and an expansion in access to quality care through community health centers. All across the U.S., RESULTS volunteer activists organized health care forums and attended town hall meetings, held over 200 meetings with congressional offices, and generated over 60 pieces of media in support of these needed reforms. They also made use of the information, training, and skills RESULTS provides them with to put forward accurate information and a humane vision of what reform should be.
Outcomes: Our work on expanding access to health care for children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which we began in 2007, finally saw fruition as 2009 began. On February 4, President Obama signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act into law. The act extended the program for four and one-half years and covered about 4.1 million additional children. States also now have the option to cover legal immigrant children and pregnant mothers with federal funds.
Both chambers of Congress passed health care reform bills in 2009 that included the key reforms we sought. The Senate bill expanded Medicaid to everyone below age 65 at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, beginning in 2014. It would also increase funding to community health centers and the National Health Service Corps by $10 billion over five years. The House bill expanded Medicaid coverage to everyone below age 65 up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, beginning in 2013, and increased funding for community health centers and the National Health Service by $14 billion over five years. Both bills established new programs to support school-based health centers and nurse-managed health centers. The House bill also established a national public health insurance plan.
Although comprehensive health care reform was not achieved in 2009, reform remained at the top of the president’s agenda and it appeared that any final bill would expand Medicaid eligibility to everyone at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty line and increase funding to community health centers by $11 billion over five years.
What We Did: RESULTS believes in a fair tax code that gives low-income families opportunities to move up the economic ladder. In 2009, we advocated for expansions in features of the tax code that assist working families, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) — a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families — and the partially refundable Child Tax Credit (CTC), which helps low- and middle-income families with the cost of raising children. After getting a temporary expansion of the CTC in 2008, we worked to see that further tax credits were included in economic recovery legislation in 2009.
Outcomes: In February 2009, Congress passed and the president signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic recovery bill, into law. The bill increased the EITC amount for families with three or more children, who are more likely to have low incomes than smaller families, to up to 45 percent of household income. The act also improved the EITC for low-income workers who marry. Before the act, if an EITC-eligible single parent married another low-income worker, they risked losing some or all of their EITC when they combined incomes for EITC purposes. The act reduced this penalty by allowing married couples to have a higher combined income. These changes benefited 7 million people, keeping 3 million out of poverty.
The economic recovery bill also expanded the CTC by lowering the minimum-income threshold to $3,000 for 2009 and 2010. With this change, an additional 2.9 million low-income children became eligible for the credit, and another 10 million families received an increased credit. Then, in December 2009, the House passed the Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010, which included a refundable CTC starting with the first dollar of earnings, which would benefit those with an annual income of less than $3,000.
Actions and Outcome: With a record number of Americans signing up for Food Stamps and using food banks, RESULTS activists told Congress that the economic recovery bill should include an increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called the Food Stamps program. Our emails, letters, phone calls, and meetings with members of Congress, as well as media coverage, paid off. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included a 13.5 percent increase in nutrition assistance. The $20 billion allocation benefits 31 million people.