Domestic Weekly Update February 15, 2011

What we have is prosperity for the most able and austerity for the least able. We are reminded by Dr. [Martin Luther] King that, while he is honored with celebrations and holidays, the budget is a moral document that defines our national character.

— The Rev. Jesse Jackson in a February 14 Chicago Sun Times op-ed

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


House Republicans Plan Major Cuts to Early Childhood Programs (February Action)

Last week, House Republicans released their budget plan for the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget, which is currently being funded through a continuing resolution until March 4. This budget would cover from March 4 through September 30. While this plan contained many significant cuts to programs that assist low-income Americans, it did not reduce spending for Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care assistance (it did not increase funding either to reflect inflation either). While this was a small victory, it was unfortunately short-lived.

After numerous Republicans claimed that the cuts did not go deep enough, a revised FY2011 budget was released on Friday evening. This budget spared few with its devastating swing of the axe. In the revised budget, Head Start/Early Head Start will see a $2.27 billion cut compared to President Obama’s FY2011 request. Remember that Head Start currently has just over an $8 billion annual budget, with $1 billion of that as temporary ARRA money. The House Republican plan would cut Head Start/Early Head Start budget to $6.1 billion, a cut of more than 20 percent. The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is not spared either. CCDBG will see a $39 million cut, which does not include the recent ARRA money.

As Mike Gentile, a legislative aide to the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, explained on last Saturday’s RESULTS Domestic national conference call, these cuts are no less than disastrous. If these cuts are enacted, 218,000 children will lose services, 55,000 employees will lose their jobs, and 16,000 classrooms will close from the Head Start cuts alone. With the CCDBG cut, 150,000 children will lose child care services. (Note: These are updated numbers Committee for Economic Development)

This is why our work is so important. Without a strong, concerted push against these draconian measures from advocates across the country, thousands upon thousands of low-income children and their families will suffer. Fortunately, even before these new cuts were released, you already responded with an emphatic NO! Earlier this month, over 1,800 national, state and local groups, including 15 RESULTS groups, signed onto a National Women’s Law Center letter to Congress urging them to maintain funding early learning programs. Furthermore, many of our groups have had face-to-face meetings over the last six weeks reiterating the message that Head Start and child care funding matters and should be protected. Then last Saturday, the 72 activists in 23 cities represented on the RESULTS national conference call pledged to make no less than 192 contacts with members of Congress urging them to oppose these cuts. Thank you all for these efforts.

And all of these efforts matter. A sustained and persistent message about the need to maintain current Head Start and child care is needed now more than ever. We cannot let Congress try to balance its budget (and the Republican plan doesn’t achieve that) on the backs of the poor. Let’s get to work to make sure that it doesn’t happen.

TAKE ACTION: Take the February Action. Write letters to your members of Congress in support of Head Start, Early Head Start and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Urge them to sustain the funding levels in FY 2011 and FY 2012 necessary to protect existing services for children and families. Also, keep requesting those face-to-face meetings with members of Congress. Both the House and Senate will be on recess next week, which is a perfect time to talk to them about Head Start and child care. You can also call their early childhood aides to advocate for protecting these programs.

If you were not able to listen to our conference call on Saturday, we urge to listen to a recording of the call on the RESULTS website. The information on the call will be of great help to you in your actions this month. You can also use our new Early Childhood Laser Talk to help draft your letters or in your face-to-face meetings with legislators.


Golden Outreach Opportunity with To Catch a Dollar Release in March

As many of you finish up your group planning this month, we have a great opportunity to help fulfill some of your outreach goals set out in your planning. On March 31, there will be a nationwide release of the documentary To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America. Many of you saw the preview at last summer’s International Conference. This film offers a chance to educate those interested in poverty, or the work of Muhammad Yunus and microcredit. Here’s a bit more information from the film’s promotional materials:

CATCH A DOLLAR: MUHAMMAD YUNUS BANKS ON AMERICA, a 2010 Sundance Film Festival selection, documents the birth of Grameen America and the effort to bring Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’s revolutionary microfinance program to the United States. The film features stories of women borrowers from around the world — with a focus here in the United States — and shows the genius of the Yunus model. It proves that there is a way to meet the needs of Americans living without access to affordable financial services. The low income women borrowers in the film — the inspiring heroes of the story — prove to the world that given the chance, they can be reliable and responsible entrepreneurs building businesses and taking care of their families.

The film will serve as the centerpiece of this nationwide campaign. Together, in partnership with leading NGO and corporate organizations including Google, Whole Foods, Kiva, Dress for Success, and United Way [and RESULTS!], our multiyear, multiplatform campaign will:

  1. Reframe perceptions about poverty and the working poor in the United States, demonstrating there are solutions for those who seek to rise up out of hardship.
  2. Provide the general public with tools and resources to assist with their own financial health.
  3. Activate audiences to take actions that will impact their neighbors and communities across the country.
  4. Increase access to microfinance services in communities across America.

RESULTS is a national partner in the release of this film, and this is a ready-made outreach opportunity for your RESULTS group. This screening will be a great event which you can invite your local network (allies, donors, and local congressional staff) to attend. There is a possibility your group could host a table at the theater or even do a short announcement to those in attendance after the event.

The initial campaign after the film’s release will consist of four intense weeks of online educational events and other activities, which will be marketed to all those who go to the film screenings. We’re co-organizing the policy week, April 25-May 1, and will lead several webinars on advocacy training, innovative policies to create economic opportunities through asset building, and the potential impact of budget cuts on families living in poverty. We’ll know more details in the next week or two about the March 31 events.

TAKE ACTION: If you are interested in hosting a To Catch a Dollar event in your city to coincide with a local or national screening, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) as soon as possible. Meredith has a complete list of screening cities. Again, this is a great opportunity to connect RESULTS with people in your community. You can watch a trailer for To Catch a Dollar in our February 12 blog post on the RESULTS website.


President Obama Releases FY 2012 Budget; Join Thursday Conference Call for Detailed Overview

Yesterday, President Obama released his FY 2012 budget. Recall that the President’s budget is his request to Congress on federal budget spending and revenues over the next fiscal year, which begins October 1. While it is not binding — Congress has primary budget authority — it is still a very powerful and influential document. Here are some of his requests (from the NWLC):

  • An $866 million increase for Head Start and Early Head Start
  • A $1.3 billion increase for the Child Care Development Block Grant, of which $800 million would be discretionary funds (appropriated on annual basis and which does not require a state match) and $500 million would be mandatory funds (which would require a state match)
  • $350 million for a proposed Early Learning Challenge Fund

These increases would basically preserve the status quo for Head Start and CCDBG. President Obama also restores the cuts to future Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, aka food stamps) that were made as part of the child nutrition reauthorization bill passed in December — proof that your outreach to the White House last fall on that issue has paid off. Unfortunately, the news is not all good. The president also proposes significant cuts to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps low-income families heat their homes in the winter and cool them in the summer. He also proposes a 50 percent cut to the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), which funds Community Action agencies around the country. Community Action workers are on the front lines in the war against poverty, providing local assistance and services to low-income families and communities.

While we must maintain our focus on FY 2011 appropriations in our letters, calls and meetings this month, our work on FY 2012 will come soon afterward. To help us prepare for that work, the National Women’s Law Center and the Center for Law and Social Policy are hosting a conference call this Thursday at 3:00 pm ET. Sign up for the call today to get the latest on the FY 2011 and 2012 budgets and their impact on early childhood programs.

TAKE ACTION: Register for the NWLC/CLASP Conference Call this Thursday, February 17 at 3:00 pm ET. Go to http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5728/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=39686 to sign up for the call. You can learn more about the president’s budget at the White House website.

Also, don’t forget to take the February Action and keep the pressure on Congress to maintain current funding levels for Head Start and child care. As Senate aide Mike Gentile said on our last Saturday’s conference call, if we lose this funding, it will be very difficult to get it back. Therefore, what Congress does in FY2011 will have a significant impact on what they do in FY 2012.


Quick News

America Saves Week is Next Week. February 20–27 is America Saves Week. This week is designed to encourage Americans to begin saving money, to “build wealth, not debt.” The week includes activities in cities across the country, along with information on how you can participate. As we work on building savings and assets and the Saver’s Bonus in 2011, this is a great opportunity to learn more about savings initiatives in your area so you can reach out to other like-minded groups eager to promote asset development.


Announcements

International Conference Registration is Now Open! Be sure to register for the 2011 RESULTS International Conference, which is June 19-21 in Washington, DC. The conference is our annual gathering of RESULTS volunteers from around the world where we educate, advocate, and celebrate. It is a great experience every year and all are invited to attend. Here are some features to help entice you to come:

  • Register by March 15 to receive a special “early bird” registration discount of $199! This amount includes your conference registration and the concluding Capitol Hill reception on Tuesday.
  • After March 15, the standard conference fee is $250, which is available until May 3. This too includes your conference registration and the Tuesday reception. After May 3, the registration fee goes to $300 until June 2, when conference registration closes.
  • Attending the conference for the first time? No problem. First-time attendees enjoy a discounted fee if $175, which includes your conference registration and the Tuesday reception.
  • College students may also apply for our Campus for Change Program. Those accepted will enjoy a $275 conference charge which includes the full cost of travel, accommodations for four nights hotel, conference registration fee, and other conference costs. Students accepted receive additional advocacy training the Saturday before and Wednesday after the conference. As a participant you will be reimbursed up to $150 of your placeholder fee. If you would like to apply, please fill out the application form. RESULTS will then follow up with you.

The RESULTS International Conference is always a memorable event. Make your plans to attend today. We look forward to seeing you in June!

Successful Outreach in Denver; Boise Up Next. As mentioned on Saturday’s conference call, Domestic Outreach Organizer Jos G. Linn traveled to Denver, CO last week to meet with the newly re-formed RESULTS Denver Domestic group. The meetings Jos spoke at were successful at introducing RESULTS to more advocates and bringing in at least three new people to the RESULTS network. Jos will next be traveling to Boise, ID, on February 25 to meet with the new Domestic group and to do outreach there as well. If you know anyone in the Boise area, please urge them to attend. You can contact Jos ([email protected]) for more details. Also, if you are looking to grow your group or help start a new RESULTS Domestic group, please contact Jos or Meredith for help. We are happy to work with you on strengthening and expanding our grassroots presence around the country.


Upcoming Events

(See a complete calendar)

Wednesdays, February 16, March 2 and 16: New Activist Orientation, 4-session series. 9 pm ET. Call (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. You can join in even if you missed the February 2 call. To RSVP or to get more information, contact Lisa Marchal ([email protected]).

Thursday, February 17: NWLC/CLASP Budget and Early Childhood Conference Call. 3:00 pm ET. Register at http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5728/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=39686.

Monday, February 21: President’s Day holiday. All RESULTS offices closed.

Monday, February 21 – Friday, February 25: House and Senate President’s Day recess.

Friday, March 4: Expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR) for FY2011 spending.

Tuesday, March 15: Early bird registration for the RESULTS International Conference ends. Register today!

Sunday, June 19 – Tuesday, June 21: RESULTS International Conference at the Four Points Sheraton in Washington, DC.


RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 783-2818, 750 First Street NE, Suite 1040, Washington DC 20002. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil.

Domestic Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff: Meredith Dodson, (202) 783-7100 x116 ([email protected]); Jos Linn, (515) 288-3622 ([email protected]), and Ann Beltran ([email protected]). Grassroots Development Associate, Cindy Changyit Levin, (773) 236-7758 ([email protected]).

The RESULTS Domestic Update is sent out every Tuesday over e-mail to RESULTS volunteers and allies all over the country. The purpose of these updates is to inform and activate RESULTS activists to take action on our domestic campaigns.