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January 2015 U.S. Poverty Action

Set Goals for 2015 and Get Started with Face-to-Face Lobby Meetings

This month, RESULTS groups and Free Agents will focus primarily on meeting to set goals for 2015 and create a plan to achieve them. This is such a critical process that we will spend the bulk of the time on the January national conference call (Saturday, January 10, at 12:30 pm ET: (888) 409-6709) on your 2015 planning. We will start the call off with remarks from special guest speaker Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN-5). Then, for groups who will to do their planning on the conference call with RESULTS staff, we will go through the entire Group Plan Summary as we did last January, giving you time along the way to complete each section. For groups who wish to do planning at their own pace on Saturday, you will have the option of dropping off the conference call early to do your planning.

For all RESULTS volunteers, as you work to lay out your goals for the year, set yourselves up for success by requesting face-to-face meetings with your members of Congress this month. Request your meeting now to increase the likelihood of getting a meeting during one an upcoming recess, and these face-to-face conversations will be critical as we work with a new Congress on strategies to address poverty in America.

Schedule Face-to-Face Meetings to Discuss Strategies to End Poverty in America

  1. Coordinate with others in your group to assign someone to call each Senate and House office to request a meeting in their local offices. You can find contact information and the names of the Washington DC scheduler (under “Staff”) on our Elected Officials page at: http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/officials/. You can also dial directly to the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your representative’s/senator’s office.
  2. Once connected to the office, ask for the scheduler (be ready to leave a succinct voicemail).
  3. Use the following conversation as a template for the conversation with the scheduler.

Hi, my name is _________________, and I am a constituent of Rep./Sen. _________________ from _________________. I am also a volunteer with RESULTS, a grassroots volunteer group working to end hunger and poverty. I know that Rep./Sen. _________________ values input from constituents on the issues that matter to us. With that in mind, our local RESULTS group would like to schedule meeting with Rep./Sen.______________ while he/she is still home for an upcoming recess. Would it be possible to set that up today? There will be at least ____ of us at the meeting and we would like to discuss how we can work together to support innovative approaches to helping families move out of poverty. What times would he/she be available to meet?

  1. You may be asked for a written request – use our online template to create a request letter.
  2. If the member of Congress has no time to meet this month, ask to schedule a meeting the next time he/she is back home. Also ask if he/she is holding any upcoming town hall meetings.
  3. Be sure to note the name of the scheduler and thank that person for their assistance. If you don’t get a firm answer when you call, mention when you’ll be following up.
  4. Use your group planning time to formulate a strategy to build relationships with your senators and representative(s). This includes deciding who will be the primary point of contact for your group, identifying where they are on the Champion Scale, and outlining specific actions you can take to move them up the scale. Once you confirm a meeting, please contact RESULTS Director of US Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) for coaching, materials, and tailored requests for your meeting.

Build Bipartisan Momentum in the New Congress

Members of Congress don’t often come into office as champions on poverty issues. The Champion Scale is a tool to help us move our representatives and senators, step by step, up the scale and thus build political will in Congress to make ending poverty a top priority. RESULTS volunteers use this tool to assess decision-makers, develop strategies, track learning and progress, and celebrate successes.

With a new Congress, this work to build champions and sway opponents is more important than ever. Of course, we will need to neutralize those who oppose these anti-poverty programs. For example, some in Congress call for cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), claiming that the EITC is wrought with fraud. By educating policymakers that alleged EITC “fraud” includes calculation errors (i.e. taxpayers making mistakes on what they claim, including not claiming the full amount), and the IRS needs oversight authority of paid tax preparers (who prepare 60 percent of EITC tax returns) from Congress, we can defuse their opposition and move towards building support. Others may not oppose our efforts but still need educating or pushed into doing more than simply claiming to “support” anti-poverty programs without taking actions to back it up (cosponsoring bills, talking to key committee leaders, etc.). Finally, we need to make sure those who do support these issues go to the mat for them. We need them displaying the kind of leadership that Senators Brown (D-OH) and Warren (D-MA) exhibited in publicly opposing the bad tax package House and Senate leaders tried to pass back in November because it undermined the EITC and CTC, or standing to sustain a Presidential veto of a harsh tax or budget package. You can see suggestions of advocacy strategies for different policymakers based on their current position on our website.

Getting face-to-face meetings with members of Congress is THE key strategy to move policymakers up the Champion Scale, which is why it is the focus for our action this month. For additional tips on how to schedule your face-to-face meeting, check out our Activist Milestone: Meet Face-to-Face with Your Member of Congress and our accompanying PowerPoint.

And, keep your local Action Network engaged by pasting this message into an email (or Facebook post, etc.): Save the Date: New York Times columnist and bestselling author Nicholas Kristof on RESULTS National Outreach Event Feb. 14. RESULTS is thrilled to host a national outreach event with Nicholas Kristof, best-selling author and columnist for the New York Times. In his recent book, A Path Appears, he highlights the advocacy work of RESULTS and has repeatedly urged people to get involved with our work. This will be a perfect opportunity to learn more how you can make a difference with RESULTS. Please save the date – Saturday, February 14 at 2:00pm ET (include details on location if you have them firmed up.)