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Domestic Weekly Update March 29, 2011

For [To Catch a Dollar] to be a success, we just have to find 227 people or groups motivated to each take the lead in filling one theatre. People can bring 5 or 10 of their friends, or come alone. Do what is possible, but be sure to be there on March 31.

— Dr. Muhammad Yunus, discussing the importance the March 31 screening of To Catch a Dollar

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Make Thursday’s To Catch a Dollar Screening a Huge Hit! (March Action)

The To Catch a Dollar nationwide screening is this Thursday, March 31, at 7:30 pm. RESULTS groups and volunteers from around the country have been promoting the film in their communities and are using it as a great outreach opportunity for their groups. Thank you all for your outstanding efforts so far. Let’s ensure that Thursday night is a great success by making these last two days count.

TAKE ACTION: Here are 10 things you can do to ensure you have a great event at your local To Catch a Dollar screening on Thursday.

  1. Keep inviting people to come to the screenings. It is never too late to invite that person or group you haven’t contacted yet. If you have friends, family or colleagues out there left to contact, do it now. Use our Announcement template for invitations as well as last minute newsletters and announcements. Even if there is not a screening in your area, invite your friends and family in other cities to attend screening near them.
  2. Follow up with people you have already invited. If people have indicated that they plan to attend a screening, be sure to do a quick reminder (in-person, phone, e-mail, text, Facebook, Twitter) saying you are looking forward to seeing them at the screening on Thursday. Last minute reminders are essential to ensuring a good turnout.
  3. Do any last minute media outreach. Contact your local news organizations, send in a letter to the editor, and/or send out a press release to build support for your local screening. You can listen to a recording of our recent our Media and Outreach training call for tips.
  4. Draft your RESULTS outreach laser talk. Don’t forget the March Action. Draft your laser talk connecting your local RESULTS group with the film people are there to see. This is the most important part of the evening as it introduces people to RESULTS and encourages them to get involved. We have a sample script you can use and tailor to your own style on the RESULTS website. And make sure to practice it before Thursday.
  5. Have all your materials ready to go. If you are hosting a table at your local theater, be sure to print off the materials you’ll need at the event. Our To Catch a Dollar Resources page has RESULTS brochures, action sheets, sign-in sheets, and other materials that will help you to promote RESULTS and our work. We recommend you include the Saver’s Bonus Outreach Action, Saver’s Bonus Fact Sheet, and Head Start call-in flyer as part of your repertoire. Also, be sure to personalize and print out copies of our half-sheet flyer listing your next local RESULTS meeting.
  6. Call to confirm your activities at the theater. Be sure to check in with the person you have been communicating with at your local theater to confirm what activities you will be doing. Briefly run through your agenda at the screening and any logistics you may need from the theater (e.g. table for materials).
  7. Show up early enough to set up your materials before people arrive. If you’ve gotten permission to have a RESULTS table at the theater, be sure to arrive early enough to set up your materials so people can see it as they go into the movie. And make sure to urge them to visit your table afterward in your laser talk.
  8. Enjoy the film. Although much of our work has been focused around attendance and outreach at this event, we don’t want to forget to enjoy the show.
  9. Have volunteers at the table before the movie ends. Some people will look to leave when the credits role so be sure to have people at your RESULTS table to greet them as you leave. Others will stay through the panel discussion video after the film. Be sure to have people available to talk about RESULTS until everyone leaves the theater.
  10. Follow up with leads. You outstanding outreach on Thursday will inevitably lead to people interested in learning more about RESULTS. Don’t let those hot leads cool down. Be sure to follow up with anyone who provided you contact information no later than early next week to answer questions and invite them to your next RESULTS meeting (the April National Conference Call is a week from this Saturday). Remember that successful outreach is completely dependent on good follow up.

We know that all of you will make the To Catch a Dollar screening a great event on Thursday. Please go to our To Catch a Dollar Resources page for all the materials and resources you’ll need for Thursday. In addition, Meredith Dodson and Jos Linn are here to help you both before and after the screening to make the most of your outreach efforts. Please do not hesitate to contact them for help.

Thank you all again for your enthusiasm and energy around this effort. Enjoy the film on Thursday and have a great time recruiting new RESULTS members!


With Budget Showdown Approaching, Low-Income Children and Families Get Caught in the Middle

Congress is back in session this week and things at this point but the week off has not cooled tempers. Reports indicated that the White House and Senate Democrats had offered to cut $30 billion from this year’s budget, which would include some entitlement cuts as well as domestic discretionary spending cuts (no details were released) but that House Republicans will reject the offer. The House is sticking to its goal of cutting $60 billion exclusively from the non-defense domestic discretionary budget. If no deal is reached by April 8, a government shutdown will ensue.

These developments do not bode well for early childhood programs including Head Start, Early Head Start, and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG). If the Senate and President Obama give in to House Republican demands, 368,000 could lose Head Start and child care services this year. This is why our continued advocacy in support of early childhood funding is so critical.

But that is only the beginning of the story. Because the funding levels for FY 2011 are used as the “baseline” for FY 2012, what happens with the former will have a profound effect on the latter. For example, in his FY 2012 budget, President Obama assumes the gains made in Head Start and CCDBG the last few years are still in place and requests the necessary funding to maintain them. H.R.1, on the other hand, would erase this progress and cut funding back to 2008 levels. If the H.R.1 levels are passed in the FY 2011 budget, Congress will assume that having 368,000 fewer children in Head Start and child care is the status quo going into FY 2012 budget talks. This will make it very difficult to get the necessary increases in the FY 2012 budget to make up for these losses, not to mention any potential expansion of services.

Therefore, our efforts now and for the rest of this year will be critical. At-risk children and their families need our voices to help ensure that when cuts are made in the budget, they won’t get caught under the knife. Thankfully, we have help in this effort. This month, a group of early learning researchers sent a letter to Congress touting the benefits of Head Start and urging Congress to maintain current services. In addition, University of Chicago economic professor and Nobel laureate James Heckman sent an open letter to the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform explaining the importance of early learning funding for our nation’s long-term fiscal health. Finally, the First Five Years Fund has a great piece "Busting Myths about Head Start’s Effectiveness" which provides important counter-arguments to those who question Head Start’s effectiveness.

We still must be vigilant about pushing members of Congress to protect Head Start, Early Head Start and CCDBG in FY 2011. What happens now will significantly impact what happens next.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your local congressional offices and tell them that it is time to pass a budget that is fiscally and morally responsible; this includes the necessary funding for early learning programs like Head Start, Early Head Start and CCDBG. Specifically, urge them to sustain the funding levels in FY 2011 and FY 2012 necessary to protect existing Head Start and child care services for children and families. You can use our February Action sheet to help draft your letters. You can also use our online alert to contact congressional offices.

In April, our monthly focus will return to the issue of Head Start and child care, looking toward the FY 2012 budget battle to protect these programs. Look for the RESULTS April 2011 U.S. Poverty Action next week on the RESULTS website.


New Research Confirms the RESULTS Model of Advocacy

Several RESULTS staff members participated in a recent webinar hosted by the Congressional Management Foundation focusing on Communicating with Congress: Perceptions of Citizen Advocacy on Capitol Hill. Researchers conducted a poll of over 250 staff persons from congressional offices and asked a number of questions on what is effective when the grassroots is communicating with Congress. The results show that the advocacy training and practices RESULTS teaches fall right in line with what is effective in creating political will.

First and foremost, the vast majority of respondents said that personal communications with members of Congress are the most influential action a constituent can take. Face-to-face meetings topped the list; 97 percent said the meetings had a lot or some positive influence. Also influential are individualized letters (90 percent), individualized e-mails (88 percent) and phone calls (86 percent). The message was clear; the more personal the message is, as opposed to a form letter or e-mail, the more impact it has. (Note: changing even a few sentences from an online e-mail form to personalize it does count as personalized)

Also, 77 percent of Capitol Hill respondents said that information on how legislation or issue impacts the member of Congress’ (MoC) home district was important to include in your communications, followed by the constituent’s reasons for taking up the issue (74 percent) and the constituent’s personal story as to why he/she cares about the issue (48 percent). The researchers also said that having a representative constituent, i.e. someone who is personally affect by the issue and can share their story, talk to the legislator makes a big difference.

To learn more about the webinar, including a graph on the most effective way to influence members of Congress, see the RESULTS Blog. And if there is any conclusion to draw from this research, it is that RESULTS volunteers are already doing a lot of the right things in our efforts to build the political will to end poverty. Keep up the great work!


Quick News

Ambassador Tony Hall Begins Hunger Fast. Almost 20 years after his original fast, Ambassador Tony Hall is fasting again. His aim is to remind people about the plight of vulnerable people around the world. So far at least 38 organizations, including RESULTS, and 4,000 individuals have signed on in solidarity. Because these organizations feel the budget situation in Congress has become dire, action must be taken to focus public attention on the proposed budget cuts and the terrible effects they would have on people living in poverty. The Hunger Fast is calling people to prayer, fasting, and personal sacrifice, and is seeking to form a “Circle of Protection” around programs in jeopardy. There is no end date and the fast will continue indefinitely or “until something good happens.” For more information, check out the blog post by RESULTS Emerson Hunger Fellow Rebecca Van Maren about her experience participating in the Hunger Fast.

New Hunger Data Released. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released their Food Hardship data showing that nearly one in five Americans struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their families. Feeding America has also released their Map the Meal Gap data which provides food insecurity data on a county level. Both of these reports show us that hunger and poverty exist in every congressional district, and every county, in the U.S. (the levels vary, obviously). For more information on hunger and poverty in the U.S., see our child nutrition and poverty in the U.S. web pages.

States Look to Cut EITC Programs. In an effort to trim state budgets, some states are looking to scale back state-level Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) programs. RESULTS worked hard last year to preserve improvements to the federal EITC and Child Tax Credit. Many states also have EITC programs that build on the federal credit and offer a break on state income taxes for low-income workers. Now these programs are under fire in 23 states. If scaled back or eliminated, these changes could amount to a tax increase on the working poor at a time when they can least afford it.


Announcements

Sign Up for the RESULTS International Conference TODAY. Why not make today the day that you register for the 2011 RESULTS International Conference? Last week, we announced that Children Defense Fund founder and RESULTS Board member Marian Wright Edelman will be a keynote speaker at the conference. Ms. Edelman has been a tireless advocate and leading voice on behalf of the world’s children for decades and we are very excited to have her speak at this year’s conference. You won’t want to miss her and all the other great events we have planned. Go to our International Conference page and register for the conference today. And remember that we have discounts for new attendees and students as well. We look forward to seeing you in June!

Please Complete and Send In Your Group Plans. Please send in your 2011 Group Plan Summary Form to your regional coordinator and Meredith Dodson as soon as possible.


Upcoming Events

(See a complete calendar)

Thursday, March 31: To Catch a Dollar nationwide screening.

Thursday, March 31 – Saturday, April 2: RESULTS presenting at the IMPACT Conference in DeLand, FL.

Wednesday, April 6: RESULTS staff participates in outreach meeting in Salina, KS. Contact Jos Linn (jlinn@results.org) for details.

Thursday, April 7: RESULTS presenting at the National Head Start Association conference in Kansas City, MO.

Friday, April 8: Expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR) for FY 2011 spending.

Saturday, April 9: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.

Tuesday, May 3: Deadline to register for the RESULTS International Conference at normal rate of $250 (rate increases by $50 after May 3).

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:

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.