U.S. Poverty Weekly Update April 17, 2012

People say that reducing inequality is radical. I think that tolerating the level of inequality the United States tolerates is radical.

— Economist Thomas Piketty in an April 16 New York Times article on income inequality

New and Urgent in This Weeks Update (2-10-20 Actions)

Each week, we highlight specific actions you can take based on how much time you have available. We call them our 2-10-20 Actions (if you have two minutes, ten minutes or twenty minutes available). Click on the links below for details about each action.

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Call Members of Congress TODAY to Urge Them to Protect SNAP!

Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees could begin work as soon as this week that negatively impact millions of Americans who struggle with hunger. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called the Food Stamp Program) is America’s first line of defense against hunger. In January 2012 (latest data available), more than 46 million Americans received SNAP benefits, literally helping people put food on the table. SNAP has also played an integral role in reducing poverty since the Great Recession began. Just last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that SNAP lifted 3.4 million people out of poverty in 2009.

Despite its success, many elected officials want to cut this critical service. The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to begin work on the next Farm Bill (which reauthorizes SNAP) assuming a $4 billion cut for SNAP. In the House, the Ag Committee is tasked with finding an astonishing $33 billion in cuts under the House Republican Budget. While millions of Americans are still struggling to find work and pay the bills, it is unconscionable for Congress to even consider cutting SNAP. We must tell them loud and clear that we will not tolerate cuts to SNAP.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes today to call your members of Congress toll-free at (877) 698-8228 to tell them to protect and strengthen SNAP. You’ll be joining advocates from around the country in flooding Congress with call this week in support of SNAP. Tell members of Congress to oppose any proposals that would change SNAP’s structure or reduce funding, restrict eligibility, or reduce benefits. Members should also support SNAP improvements, including the President’s proposal to restore the SNAP cut enacted in late 2010. Once connected to your House and Senate offices, say:

My name is ____________ and I am constituent from __________________ and a RESULTS volunteer. I am very concerned that Congress is considering cutting and restructuring SNAP, aka food stamps. As an American, I am proud we have SNAP — I want my tax dollars going to things that make a difference, and SNAP does. In 2009, SNAP lifted 3.4 million people out of poverty and helped millions more unemployed Americans put food on the table during the recent recession.  Considering that half of SNAP recipients are children, cutting the program would be disastrous. Will you please urge Rep./Sen. _____________________ to tell Agriculture Committee members and House/Senate leadership to strongly oppose any cuts or restructuring of SNAP? Thank you.

You can also urge your Members of Congress to speak out in support of SNAP at committee hearings, caucus meetings, and on the floor of the House and Senate. If you cannot call, please send an e-mail urging elected officials to protect SNAP.

Thanks to Feeding America for providing the toll-free number.


Help Implement RESULTS New Strategic Plan by Reaching Out to Grasstops Leaders (April Action)

On last Saturday’s RESULTS national conference call, RESULTS staff and board members unveiled RESULTS new strategic plan. This plan sets a bold vision for RESULTS to be a "leading catalyst of rapid progress toward a world where extreme poverty no longer exists." Specifically, this means creating a world:

  • where nobody dies of causes in one part of the world or nation that are easily preventable in other parts of the world or nation
  • where all children are receiving a quality education
  • where all people have access to economic opportunity
  • where all people have access to basic heath care
  • where a critical mass of people take responsibility for guiding their government decision makers and others to create a world that includes all of the above

To help make that happen, we will be looking to expand RESULTS reach and impact, including having a RESULTS presence in all 50 states and two-thirds of congressional districts, creating more champions for the end of poverty in Congress in our communities, expanding our policy impact, and creating the systems to support these efforts. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be highlighting various aspects of the Strategic Plan and how you can help us transform it from plan into action. In fact, you can start this month.

The April Action  focuses on one aspect of the plan — connecting and building relationships with grasstops leaders in our community. Grasstops are generally leaders who have some power in your community, either by leading a strong grassroots network or other position of prominence. These could include non-profit leaders, faith leaders, grassroots organizers, state and local elected officials, media figures, business leaders, etc. Some RESULTS groups could be considered grasstops leaders, simply because of the relationships and power they have achieved in their communities (e.g. RESULTS Santa Fe).

Grasstops leaders are important because they help you leverage power effectively. For example, a few years ago RESULTS Des Moines volunteers worked with the Bishop of the Iowa Methodist Church, which overseas hundreds of congregations in the state, to lobby a key member of Congress on protecting food stamps. Because of his prominence in the state, the Bishop’s voice carried a great deal of weight and thus magnified the impact of the message.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes and schedule a meeting with a grasstops leader in your community. RESULTS has resources to help you brainstorm potential coalition partners in your community. Your first meeting could be a simple as a cup of coffee or a lunch to introduce them to RESULTS and your work in the community. The key, as in every RESULTS endeavor, is relationship. Getting to know them and vice versa is the first step. Once you have a meeting schedule, use the April Action sheet to help you plan. You can also call the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Team for coaching on reaching out to grasstops leaders.

If you were not on Saturday’s national conference call, you can listen to a recording of the call on the RESULTS website. We also have a PDF slide presentation that provides more information about RESULTS Strategic Plan.


Invite People to Your Outreach Event This Month (April Action)

Some groups are doing outreach events this month, in lieu of or in addition to, reaching out to grasstops leaders (above). If your group is hosting an outreach event during Global Action Week on Education (beginning April 22), make sure to nail down a time and location for your event, if you haven’t already. Be sure you location is available and reserved for the time and date you need it. Nothing is more frustrating to you and your guests to start publicizing an event and then having to change it.

Once you have a date, time, and location confirmed, start reaching out to you people and talking about your event. RESULTS has a host of resources to help you on our Events page for Global Action Week. There are many ways to reach your community and draw them to this event:

  • Use the Laser Talk about why investing in Head Start and Child Care is important to clearly communicate why this issue is important
  • Use the Inviting Script and use it to publicize your event
  • Use the sample letter of invitation provided by the Global Education Campaign to invite local grasstops to your event
  • Modify and post the sample flyer around gathering spots in your community to spread the word
  • Make use of Email, Social Media, or other e-invitation services to reach out to your invite list and the community at large. The Laser Talk can easily be used over email or Facebook, as well as in one on one conversation.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes this week and start reaching out to people in your community to invite them to you outreach event. The April Action has helpful tips for planning a successful event. You can also use our Activist Toolkit for community outreach to help you. Also, as you are publicize and invite for your event, use the Inviting and Tracking form to help you track invitees and confirmed guests. As always, the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Team is here to help you in any way we can.


Join RESULTS "Free Agents" Group TONIGHT at 8pm ET

As you know, RESULTS volunteers around the country typically meet in groups to take action each month. Yet there are people out there who regularly take action on our issues but have no local RESULTS group with which to connect. Fortunately, that’s about to change.

In sports, a free agent is someone valued for their skills and talents. Teams seek free agents because people know that they make a good team even better. We value RESULTS’ “free agents” the same way.

To show it, we are creating new RESULTS Free Agents groups that will bring individual activists from around the country together in a group-like setting to provide them the same support our local RESULTS groups get. Inspiration, legislative updates on our work, helpful coaching and support – all of this will be part of each call.

Perhaps you are one of these valuable free agents. If so, we invite you to attend our RESULTS Free Agents group conference calls. We have two options available for you. If your interest is U.S. poverty issues, join our RESULTS Free Agents (U.S. Poverty) group call on Tuesday, April 17 at 9 pm ET. Dial in at (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS# (7378587#). RSVPS are encouraged at [email protected]. For more information, please contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

We also have a global poverty focused Free Agents group, which met last night. The next RESULTS Free Agents (Global Poverty) group call will be Monday, May 21, at 8 pm ET. Dial in at (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS# (7378587#). For more information about the global poverty group, contact Lisa Marchal at [email protected].

And don’t forget about our bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Calls for new people wanting to learn more about RESULTS. The next RESULTS Intro call is this Friday, April 20 at 1:00 pm ET. To register for the call, go to http:tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.


Tax Day Arrives as the Buffet Rule Dies

Yesterday, the Senate defeated The Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012 (S.2230), aka the “Buffet Rule” by a vote of 51-45, nine votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome the Republican filibuster. S.2230 would have required people with more than $1 million per year in income to pay a minimum tax rate of 30 percent. Citizens for Tax Justice estimates that the Buffett Rule would have raised $50 billion per year, while affecting only the wealthiest 0.08 percent of taxpayers (see also this article from the Center for American Progress).

Ironically, opponents argued that the Buffet Rule did not raise enough revenue to warrant passage, yet these same opponents use deficit scare tactics to justify cuts to safety net programs while urging even more tax cuts for the wealthy. Senate Democrats have vowed to bring the Buffet Rule up for a vote again this year.

TAKE ACTION: On this Tax Day, tell Congress that to get their priorities straight. Tell them that the U.S. tax code should be used to help all Americans create wealth, not simply reward those who already have it. Urge them to protect the EITC and Child Tax Credit and bring fairness and equity back to tax policy. Use our online e-mail alert to send your message.

Also, please Allison Burkett’s excellent RESULTS Blog post on tax fairness.


RESULTS Volunteers Make the Most of Spring Recess

Thanks to everyone who contacted their congressional offices earlier this month to set up face-to-face meetings and attend town halls. We know these in-district meetings are hard to come by but persistence many times pays off, and it did again during this last recess. Three RESULTS groups had face-to-face meetings with members of Congress this month: RESULTS Charlottesville met with Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA-5), RESULTS Cedar Rapids and Des Moines met with Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1), and RESULTS DC met with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8). Congratulations to these groups for setting up those meetings... and for letting us all share in them by taking pictures. You can see pictures from these meetings on the RESULTS Facebook page.

TAKE ACTION: The House and Senate will again go on recess the week of April 30. Contact congressional schedulers to see if you can meet with your representatives during the April recess. You can find schedulers’ names and contact info on our Elected Officials page. The February Action has tips to help you schedule and plan your meeting. Be sure to take our one-page “leave behinds” to you meetings, which you can find in the green box on our U.S. Poverty Campaigns page. Finally, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff for any help you need.

And don’t forget to take pictures!


Friends & Family Fundraising Totals Are In — Thank You All

$23,673! As RESULTS Executive Director Joanne Carter announced on Saturday’s national conference call, that is the total raised as of March 31 during the 2012 Friends & Family Fundraising Campaign. Congratulations! We know that we tried some new things with this year’s campaign (different time of year, new technology) and you all jumped in head first to make it a success. Thank you to everyone who participated and all who donated. Last week, we recognized our volunteer trailblazers in this year’s campaign. We also want to salute our RESULTS staff members who also participated in the campaign. These folks helped raise $8,000 of our total to date. The partnership between our volunteers and staff in these efforts is one of the many signature traits of RESULTS. We thank all of you!

But we’re not done yet. Some individuals and groups still have donations coming in, inching us closer and closer to our $30,000 goal. If you still have donation checks at home, please send them ASAP to: RESULTS, Attn: Cynthia Stancil, 1730 Rhode Island Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington, DC 20036. Also, Friends & Family webpages will remain live until April 30 to catch any late donors (so you still have time to follow up).

As we move forward, we also have an exciting array of RESULTS fundraising events shaping up this year. Thank you to the Atlanta, Bremerton/Kitsap (WA), Chicago, Denver, Houston, Tacoma, San Jose, Seattle, and Sitka (AK) groups who are actively working with grassroots coaches to create exciting and memorable fundraising events in 2012. We look forward to more groups doing events as well. If you are interested in organizing a fundraising event this year, please contact Cindy Levin at [email protected].


Quick News

Hunger Hits Home: New Documentary on Childhood Hunger. This Saturday, the Food Network premiered a new documentary about childhood hunger in America, Hunger Hits Home. A first-of-its-kind documentary, Hunger Hits Home follows three American families as they navigate federal nutrition programs and emergency food options, providing a close-up look at the impact hunger has on children. The documentary asks viewers to sign a petition in support of federal nutrition programs. The Food Network will be broadcasting the film several more times – check the website for times. You can also watch the full documentary yourself online, or download a viewing guide to accompany a screening with your friends and family.

Impact of Looming Budget Cuts: Webinar and Resources. “Impact of Looming Budget Cuts on Low-Income Families, Our Communities, and Our Economy” – a recent webinar convened by Half in Ten and other allies discussed the proposed cuts to the safety net and their impact as outlined in the House Republican Budget. Speakers also discussed the potential impact of automatic budget cuts to human needs programs that are slated for January 2013 and action steps that advocates can take to fight cuts to the safety net. You can listen to a recording of the webinar and find action resources on the webinar page. See our Activist Toolkit for other action resources. Visit Half-in-Ten for more information on specific facts and figures for your state.


RESULTS International Conference — Early Bird Hits the Snooze

We are excited to announce that the Early Bird deadline to register for the 2012 RESULTS International Conference has been extended! You now have until Monday, April 30 to register at the discounted rate of $150.

Don’t miss out on the RESULTS event of the year and register TODAY!


Announcements

Register for this Friday’s RESULTS Intro Call. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about RESULTS, please urge them to register for our next RESULTS Introductory Call. These calls are ideal for people looking for a way to put their passion for justice into action with RESULTS. We do these calls twice per month and all are welcome. Our next RESULTS Intro Call is THIS Friday April 20 at 1:00 pm ET. We will also have a call on May 4 at 9:00 pm ET. People can register at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet. Contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) if you have questions about the call.


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House recess, April 28-May 6. Senate recess, April 30-May 4. Request face-to-face meetings!

Tuesday, April 17: RESULTS Free Agents group (U.S. Poverty) call, 9:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS (7378587). For more information about the U.S. poverty group, contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

Monday, April 30: Last day to register for the RESULTS International Conference at the discounted rate of $150.

Saturday, May 12: Joint RESULTS U.S. and Global Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Tuesday, May 15: Deadline to apply for the REAL Change Scholarship Program for the RESULTS International Conference.

Monday, May 21: RESULTS Free Agents group (Global Poverty) call, 8:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS (7378587). For more information about the U.S. poverty group, contact Lisa Marchal at [email protected].

Saturday, July 21 – Tuesday, July 24, 2012: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. Start planning today to attend our 2012 conference!


RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 783-2818, 1730 Rhode Island Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil.

RESULTS U.S. Poverty 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.