U.S. Poverty Weekly Update April 24, 2012

I'm asking for dignity for Americans and saving the nutrition programs, especially the SNAP program – the food stamp program.

— Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), defending SNAP on the House floor last week (per the request of RESULTS Chicago volunteer Cindy Changyit Levin)

New and Urgent in This Week's 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.

  • Got Two Minutes? Celebrate Global Action Week for Education by Urging Congress to Support Head Start and Child Care Funding, Urge Others to Do the Same
  • Got Ten Minutes? Early Bird Deadline Monday: Dr. Jeffrey Sachs will speak at the RESULTS 2012 International Conference!
  • Got Twenty Minutes? Invite People to Your Outreach Event This Month (April Action)

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Celebrate Global Action Week for Education by Urging Congress to Support Head Start and Child Care Funding, Urge Others to Do the Same

Happy Global Action Week for Education! If you just have a few minutes, use your time to take a quick online action and urge others to do the same. TAKE ACTION: Tailor our online alert to urge Congress to protect and strengthen Head Start and child care for millions of low-income children in the U.S., then share the link (http://capwiz.com/results/issues/alert/?alertid=7419046) with at least five friends/family and urge them to do the same!

THE CONTEXT: This year, RESULTS Global and U.S. Poverty Groups are partnering with the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) during their Global Action Week for Education, April 22-28. This year’s campaign “Rights from the Start! Early Child Care and Education NOW!” highlights how effective and important quality early childhood education is to development and should be available to all. This week is also Week of the Young Child sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), with some local early childhood programs highlighting the critical work that they do. Many RESULTS groups are using this week to organize outreach events or connect directly with “grasstops” leaders such as Head Start directors (see below). Even if you only have a few minutes, help build momentum for quality Early Childhood Development programs by pushing for more resources for Head StartEarly Head Start, and child care with a quick, but personalized, email to your members of Congress. Why spend 30 more seconds talking about why you think these programs are important? Polling data shows that “individualized” communication to members of Congress has much more impact than just form e-mails or letters.

Once you’ve taken action, urge others to do the same. You can send the link to our online alert to other friends via e-mail, and post it on your Facebook wall by either hitting the “Like” button on the alert webpage or going to RESULTS’ Facebook page and hitting “Share” button right under the link to our online alert.


Early Bird Deadline Monday: Dr. Jeffrey Sachs will speak at the RESULTS 2012 International Conference!

We are excited to announce that Dr. Jeffrey Sachs will attend our conference this summer! Dr. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 80 countries. He has twice been named among Time magazine's 100 most influential world leaders. He was called by the New York Times, "probably the most important economist in the world," and by Time magazine "the world's best known economist." A recent survey by The Economist magazine ranked Professor Sachs as among the world's three most influential living economists of the past decade.

In addition, Dr. Joan Lombardi, a real leader in the early learning field and former Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development for the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will speak at our conference about the importance of quality early childhood development programs. Have a few minutes? Read this recent interview with Joan as she reflects on the early childhood field. Also, Deputy Commissioner for Financial Empowerment Cathie Mahon of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs will speak about $aveNYC/$aveUSA in a workshop focused on asset-building.

TAKE ACTION:  Early-bird registration ends April 30 -- Register today! Don’t miss this chance to see Dr. Sachs and others in person! Other important deadlines are coming up for the REAL Change program (for 18-25-year-olds), volunteering, and other financial assistance.  Check out the details at the Financial Assistance tab on the right side of our International Conference webpage.


Use Global Action Week for Education to Build a Broader and Stronger Movement for Early Childhood Development (April Action)

Our April Action  focuses on critical strategies imbedded in our new strategic plan — connecting and building relationships with grasstops leaders in our community and doing outreach to build our local action networks. During RESULTS April national conference call on our strategic plan (see the PDF slide presentation for details), we discussed the importance of community VIPs -- grasstops leaders can help you leverage power effectively. 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 scheduled, use the April Action sheet to help you plan.

And, we are also focused on building a broad network of local advocates and this week some groups are doing outreach events to build their networks. If your group is hosting an outreach event during Global Action Week on Education, 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 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.
  • Use the Laser Talk about why investing in Head Start and Child Care is important to clearly communicate why this issue is important (you can also use this laser talk to teach others to speak effectively...)

Still need a few ideas and resources for your event? Check these out:

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.

TAKE ACTION: Take 20  minutes and schedule a meeting with a grasstops leader in your community. Or, use your time to reach out to people in your community to invite them to an outreach event. Be creative and strategic, and have fun! As always, the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Team is here to help you in any way we can.


House Pushes Cut to Child Tax Credit; President Threatens Government Shutdown

No one can argue that Congress didn’t make the most of their first week back after the spring recess. Unfortunately, what they did was all wrong. In addition to the SNAP cuts mentioned below, the House Ways and Means Committee voted last week to cut eligibility for the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Under the new rule, low-income families claiming the refundable part of the CTC would be required to have a Social Security Number to claim the refund (currently, you only need an Individual Tax Identification Number to claim the CTC). This would primarily impact immigrant families; families who are working and paying taxes. The House proposed this change earlier this year as part of the payroll tax cut deal, but it was later dropped. At that time, it was estimated that the change would affect 5.5 million children in families earning an average of $21,000 per year, resulting in a loss of $1,800 in income. RESULTS continues to oppose this reckless effort to punish low-income, working families.

Meanwhile, the House Energy and Commerce committee begins marking up legislation today at 4 pm and continues tomorrow. The committee plans to cut Medicaid in a number of ways and is also eliminating the critical prevention fund that was included in the Affordable Care Act. This comes on the heels of the Ways and Means Committee making cuts to the Affordable Care Act last week. You can find the notice of the mark up here.

On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, another fight was brewing. As you know, the House passed the House Republican Budget earlier this month. In addition to gutting SNAP, Medicaid, and other anti-poverty programs, the House plan also cut non-military domestic discretionary programs by $19 billion. This would inevitably result in cuts to Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care assistance. Senate leaders and the President said the House proposal was in direct violation of the agreement made in last summer’s Budget Control Act (BCA), which already mandated nearly $1 trillion in cuts over the next ten years. House leaders ignored these protests so last week, the President upped the ante. He is threatening to veto any appropriations bill that cut spending below BCA levels. Considering that the budget must be completed by October 1, this could force a government shutdown just weeks before the November elections.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to get its priorities straight. Send a letter to the editor telling Congress to reject the House Republican Budget. Be sure to tell your senators and representatives by name to oppose the misguided priorities in the House plan and to support programs that help struggling individuals and families make ends meet.


SNAP Cuts Move Forward — Tell Your Members of Congress to Stop Them

Thank you to everyone who made calls last week to your representatives and senators urging them to protect Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps). Advocates from around the country made at least 1,500 calls, some even inspiring their members of Congress to publicly speak in defense of SNAP (see below). Despite strong opposition to SNAP cuts from Americans of all political stripes, the House Agriculture Committee voted to cut the program by $33 billion over the next ten years. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) estimates that the House proposal will result in 3 million people being pushed out of the program and 280,000 children losing free school breakfast and lunch. It is unclear if or when the House bill would come up for a vote on the House floor. More details on the proposed cuts:

  • Early repeal of ARRA (stimulus bill) benefit boost on June 30, 2012
  • Severely restricting categorical eligibility for the SNAP program
  • Completely eliminating the connection between LIHEAP and SNAP (“Heat and Eat”)
  • Eliminating the federal 50-50 match in SNAP employment and training
  • Eliminating state performance bonuses for improving program accuracy and participation rates
  • Eliminating the inflationary index for SNAP nutrition education funding

Prospects in the Senate are not much better. On Friday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) released her 2012 Farm Bill proposal which includes a $4 billion cut to SNAP over the next ten years. Specifically, the proposal limit states’ ability to coordinate the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and SNAP benefits, so called “Heat and Eat” policies. It would reduce SNAP benefits for households eligible for but receiving the smallest, least adequate LIHEAP benefits.  Currently, the District of Columbia and 14 states (CT, ME, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, VT, WA, WI; CA will begin soon) have “Heat and Eat” policies. The full Senate Agriculture Committee has scheduled its mark up of the bill for Thursday, April 26 at 10:30 am ET. You can watch the markup live on the Agriculture Committee website.

These assaults against SNAP and other anti-poverty programs are becoming disturbingly more frequent and more heated. The only people standing in front of these attacks are grassroots advocates who refuse to take these threats lying down. As election year politics get uglier as the year progresses, it will take committed advocates like you speaking out and speaking up for low-income Americans. Fortunately, you are up to the task.

TAKE ACTION: Send a message to your members of Congress telling them Americans want hungry children and families protected — that means they must protect and strengthen SNAP. Urge your senators and representatives to oppose any proposals that would change SNAP’s structure or reduce funding, restrict eligibility or reduce benefits.  Congress should strengthen, not weaken SNAP, including the President’s proposal to restore the cut in the ARRA boost. You can use our online e-mail alert to send your message or look up the aides responsible for handling Agriculture issues using our website. Be sure to urge them to speak up in support of SNAP at committee hearings, caucus meetings, and on the floor of the House and Senate.


RESULTS Volunteers in Action: How IL Volunteers Got Their Representative to Speak Out on the House Floor

This is an excerpt from a RESULTS Blog Post by RESULTS volunteer and Grassroots Development Associate Cindy Changyit Levin.

Sometimes things just fall into place.

Late last Monday afternoon, April 16, I got an email from Bread for the World asking if I could ask my Congresswoman, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), to speak on the floor of the House of Representative’s for a “Special Order” of Congress to defend the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka “food stamps”). SNAP was in danger of $33 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. I regularly work with Bread and they were aware that I was a constituent of Rep. Schakowsky. They also knew that through my work with RESULTS, I had a good relationship with the congresswoman.

Despite this, I felt a bit intimidated. With a 24 hour of turnaround and having no idea what a Special Order was, this seemed like a pretty tall request. Fortunately, because of the support I have received from our U.S. Poverty staff, I feel empowered and informed enough to take the domestic actions when needed (I’m primarily a RESULTS Global volunteer).

In addition, the Bread organizer sent me detailed request from the Illinois Hunger Coalition. I also learned that Special Orders are floor events when members can speak on a certain topic after voting ends. They often generate C-SPAN coverage. With her DC staff already gone for the day, I quickly contacted her district office by phone and e-mail, explaining the need for speed; they sped the request to the right people. On Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Schakowsky’s staff called back and told me she would be speaking in support of SNAP on the House floor later that evening.

I was elated! With 2 hours before the special order, I sent out notices to Bread, our local RESULTS email action network, our RESULTS Chicago Facebook page, and the RESULTS Chicago Twitter feed urging people to tune in. By the time Rep. Schakowsky took the floor, I was live-tweeting the event with my family cheering in the background. You can watch her speech on YouTube.

This is a new milestone for me and I’m feeling like someone on an episode of the West Wing! I feel both empowered and very grateful to everyone who helped build these relationships and provided support so that when the time came to take an action like this, I would be ready. So yes, sometimes things just fall into place. But when they do, it’s the time and effort we’ve put in beforehand — creating strong relationships with members of Congress, congressional staffers, and partner organizations — that make them work out for the best.


Quick News

Catholic Bishops Call House Republican Budget Immoral. In a series of letters sent to House Committee Chairpersons and House leadership, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops denounced the House Republican Budget as failing to meet the “moral criteria” for protecting society’s most vulnerable. Pointing to proposals to cut access to food assistance, health care, and income supports, the Bishops said “those who are hungry, poor and vulnerable should come before assistance to those who are relatively well off and powerful.” The letters were in part a rebuke of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), who authored the House plan, claiming that the budget was consistent with Catholic teachings and that his Catholic faith helped him devise the plan.

99 Percent Spring Training: Now Online! As part of a nation-wide campaign to raise the profile of issues of economic justice and wealth inequality as election issues, a broad-based coalition of groups hosted thousands of 99 percent spring trainings across the country last week. These trainings touched the underlying issues that have resulted in the top 1 percent continuing to thrive while the rest of the country struggles, and gave participants tools for organizing and participating in direct action in their communities. View the online version of the training here!


BIG News in Fundraising! 

All day Wednesday, May 2nd, your gift to the RESULTS Educational Fund will have a greater impact. Thanks to the Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG campaign, gifts to RESULTSof any size will be stretched. Any donation will also make you eligible for a Golden Ticket, increasing your donation by $1,000! Thank you to Karen Gielen and our Seattle partners for setting up this opportunity. On May 2nd, donate to RESULTS Educational Fund on the Seattle Foundation's website and spread the word via social media.

Also, one last reminder that our Friends & Family fundraising campaign websites will be closing after Monday, April 30. Now is the time to thank your donors personally if you haven't already! We will thank them from the office, but nothing keeps a donor coming back like sincere and personal expressions of gratitude. Each group will be receiving a list of donor names and addresses of every donor that contributed on their behalf during this campaign.


Announcements

Join the Upcoming RESULTS Intro and New Activist Orientation Calls. Remember to urge folks to attend our bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Calls. These calls are great for people wanting to get a basic understanding of RESULTS and our work. The next call is Wednesday, May 2 at 9:00 pm ET. You can register at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet. Contact Lisa Marchal ([email protected]) if you have questions about the call. Also, the next New Activist Orientation series begins in May. These calls are great for new activists in your group or people wanting to learn more about RESULTS beyond the Intro call. This series is two calls, which will be on May 7 and 21 at 9:00 pm ET. You can contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for details.

RESULTS “Free Agents” Start Off Strong. Our first monthly RESULTS Free Agents call began last week with very good success. These calls are designed to provide support for RESULTS activists around the country in areas where there is not an existing RESULTS group. We had a great group of eight committed and active people on the U.S. Poverty call, ranging from CA, CT, FL, IN, NJ, NY, PA, and VA. We look forward to more joining us in the coming months! The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents meet the third Tuesday of every month at 9:00 pm ET (next call, May 15). The RESULTS Global Poverty Free Agents meet the third Monday of every month at 8:00 pm ET (next call, May 21). To participate in either call, dial (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS# (7378587#). If you have questions about the groups, contact Jos Linn at [email protected] (U.S. Poverty) or Lisa Marchal at [email protected] (Global Poverty).


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!

Saturday, April 28: RESULTS Northeast Regional Conference. Contact David Burns for more details.

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

Wednesday, May 2: RESULTS Introductory Call. 9 pm ET. Contact us with any questions and RSVP for the call 

May 7 and 21: RESULTS New Activist Orientation, 9 pm ET. New activist with RESULTS? Then join our two-session orientation to learn the basics of who we are and how we work together to become vibrant advocates for the end of poverty. To RSVP, contact Lisa Marchal. To call in, dial (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.

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: 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].

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 via 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.