U.S. Poverty Weekly Update February 12, 2013

When folks are down and out,
RESULTS members meet and shout,
We will show Congress the way!

People in politics
Won’t be constituents’ picks
If they don’t heed what we say!

RESULTS is there to prod them,
Meet, write, and call them,
We will send hunger away!

Senators and reps
Cuts, funds, entitlements,
Poverty will not hold sway!

We will raise the issues,
Advocate our values,
Freedom from want can be real!

’Cause . . .

When folks are down and out,
RESULTS members meet and shout,
Poverty’s ills, we will heal!

— Karen Cunningham, RESULTS Montana volunteer (sung to “There’s Going to be a Great Day”)

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update (Two-Ten-Twenty Actions)

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Submit a Letter to the Editor Using Our Online Media Alert (February Action)

As highlighted on last Saturday’s RESULTS National Conference Call, this February is a media month for RESULTS. As automatic cuts and budget deadlines get closer and closer, members of Congress — who still seem to have a strong case of deficit fever — will look to find budget savings. Their first targets of choices will be anti-poverty programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps), Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care assistance. We need to remind members of Congress that their constituents strongly oppose balancing the budget on the backs of low-income children and families.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send in your letter to the editor urging Congress to protect services that lift and keep people out of poverty. Use our online letter to the editor action to send your letter today! For a more detailed overview of the February Action, see our Got Twenty Minutes? section below.


Got Ten Minutes? Push for Face-to-Face Meetings in Upcoming Recesses

Next week, February 18-22, both the House and Senate will be on recess. This means that members of Congress will be in their home districts available to meet with local constituents. As February conference call guest Ellen Teller of FRAC discussed on last Saturday’s national conference call, these in-district meetings are the best thing advocates can be doing right now to urge Congress to protect services for low-income Americans. She reminded us that we face some steep challenges in the coming months — sequestration cuts (March 1) and the expiration of the FY 2013 budget continuing resolution (March 27). In addition, Congress has started working on the FY 2014 budget. All of these events, along with the expiration of the Farm Bill in September, put tremendous pressure on anti-poverty programs. And one thing is clear — we will make the difference. Ellen noted that in meetings she attended on Capitol Hill, aides to congressional leaders said that public pressure in the coming weeks will determine the outcome of these budget negotiations.

Face-to-face meetings with members of Congress help build that public pressure. When you tell their elected officials that protecting low-income individuals and families is paramount, they had better listen. And it starts with that first face-to-face meeting.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to submit and/or follow up on your face-to-face meeting requests, per the. The House and Senate will be on the President’s Day recess next week. In addition to sit-down meetings, members of Congress may also hold town hall meetings during this time. When you contact schedulers about setting up meetings, be sure to ask about any public meetings and appearances they may be having. The January Action has information to help with your meeting requests. Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff to help you plan your meeting. Also, be sure to print off our 2013 tax credits for working families, protecting nutrition programs, and investing in Head Start and child care lobby request sheets to take to your meetings.

Here are some addition resources to help you with your meetings:

Finally, we thank Ellen Teller of FRAC for taking time out of her schedule to talk with us on Saturday’s national conference call. She gave us great insights in the actions we are taking. You can also listen to a recording of our February National Conference Call on the RESULTS website, as well as download our slide presentation from the call.


Got Twenty Minutes? Draft your Own Letter to the Editor or Op-ed and Send It to Your Local Paper

As our conference call guest Ellen Teller of FRAC explained last Saturday, Congress is facing some important budget deadlines in the coming weeks and months. All of these deadlines put programs we support, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps) and Head Start at risk. It is important that we educate lawmakers about the wrongheadedness of using cuts to anti-poverty programs as a means to balance the budget.

Above, we linked to our online letter to the editor action if you only have a couple of minutes to act. However, if you have a little more time, we encourage you to draft your own letter and submit it. Making letters personal greatly increases the chance of you getting published. Here are a few tips we reviewed on last Saturday’s national conference call to help increase your chances of seeing your letter in your local paper (for a more detailed explanation of each tip, see our new RESULTS Blog post):

  1. Be brief and to the point — 150–200 words at the most
  2. Have a hook — link your letter to something in the news)
  3. Make it local — show how your issue impacts your community (see more below)
  4. Compare the Popular with the Unpopular — give people a choice between priorities, i.e. cuts to Head Start v. tax cuts for corporations
  5. Mention your members of Congress by name — increases the chances they’ll see it
  6. Submit your letters in numbers and to other media outlets
  7. Once you get published, send a copy to your members of Congress — fax your letter or e-mail the link

If you can use local statistics and stories in your letter, do it. Papers want to know how an issue is affecting people in their community. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has state fact sheets on SNAP, which were linked to in last week’s Weekly Update. Also, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) has a date finder tool that can help you find information about Head Start and child care in your state. For a great example of a powerful letter (and how to use a hook), see this letter to the editor from last Sunday’s New York Times from Bob Greenstein, the president of the CBPP.

If you are a frequent letter writer and want to maximize your impact, consider writing an opinion piece (op-ed). An op-ed gives you more room to discuss the issue (usually 600–700 words) and gets more prominence in the paper. You can learn more about writing and submitting an op-ed in our Activist Toolkit. Also, please don’t hesitate to contact the U.S. Poverty Staff for help with drafting an op-ed.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to draft and submit a letter to the editor or op-ed urging Congress to protect America’s children in upcoming budget negotiations. The February Action sheet provides talking points, background information, and a sample letter you can use when drafting your piece. You can find a list of media outlets in your state in our Media Guide.

You can find other media tips in our Activist Toolkit under “Working with the Media” and review our new PowerPoint for additional guidance. Please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Staff for any help you need in your media advocacy.


Annual Budget Process Begins, with Threats to SNAP

The next few months could be a critical time for America’s vulnerable children and families. Sequestration, or automatic cuts to annually appropriated programs, is set to begin on March 1 — see below for more details. In addition, the House and Senate will begin work on their FY 2014 budget resolutions. Last year, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) proposed a budget that included severe cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), Medicaid, and discretionary spending. The House budget also proposed turning SNAP and Medicaid into block grants to states. These cuts and changes would result in millions of low-income Americans losing access to these vital services. The House is expected to propose a similar budget this year, with cuts possibly going even deeper.

New Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) is also beginning work on a budget proposal. Senator Murray has set up an online platform called MyBudget for people to share stories and weigh in on their priorities. The Senate Budget Committee is holding two hearings this week and, as a good sign, a SNAP participant has been invited to speak during tomorrow’s hearing at 10:30 am ET.

The House and Senate are expected to take up their budget proposals in April, though it is doubtful the two chambers can reach a deal on a Budget Resolution. However, their budget proposals will help shape the later debate as Congress takes up legislation to address the debt ceiling and enact further deficit reduction. There is a risk that SNAP could be deeply cut, perhaps in multiple packages — in a broad budget deal and perhaps again in the Farm Bill later this year. That is why our work to speak up about the importance of protecting SNAP is so critical.

To help understand hunger in America better, consider checking out these new resources. Last week the Center for American Progress put out a report detailing strategies to fight childhood hunger. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) also put out a new paper, detailing the impact of the scheduled cuts to SNAP for families nationwide as the temporary increase included in the 2009 economic recovery bill expires later this year. In addition, on March 1 a new film about hunger, Place at the Table, will premiere nationwide.

TAKE ACTION: In addition to taking our February Action and continuing work to set up face-to-face lobby meetings, use our online alert to quickly tell Congress you want to see SNAP protected in a balanced budget deal that includes revenues.


Sequestration Looms, Could Mean Cuts to Head Start, Child Care and WIC

On March 1, the “sequester” goes into effect, which mandates $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next ten years. These cuts would impact “discretionary” programs (i.e. funded on an annual basis) such as Head Start, Early Head Start, child care assistance, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and others. While it is unlikely that Congress will reach a deal to avert sequestration before March 1, there could be action after Congress returns from next week’s President’s Day Recess.

Last week, the Obama Administration released updated calculations about what sequestration will mean. Through the remainder of the year, 70,000 young children would be kicked off Head Start and thousands more will lose child care assistance. The National Women’s Law Center has a state breakdown of how many children are at risk of losing early childhood services if sequestration goes fully into effect. In addition, approximately 600,000 women and children would be dropped from WIC from March through September and at least 1,600 State and local jobs could be lost as a result.

If that weren’t enough, the House and Senate still must finalize their FY 2013 appropriations bills. The federal government is currently operating under a “continuing resolution” (CR), which essentially maintains last year’s spending levels; the CR expires on March 27. If Congress fails to reach a deal to fund these programs, there could be a government shutdown.

TAKE ACTION: In addition to taking our February Action and continuing work to set up face-to-face lobby meetings, use our online alert to quickly tell Congress you want to see early childhood services protected in a balanced budget deal that includes revenues.


Outreach and Training Opportunities Abound at RESULTS — Join In the Fun

New England Organizer Jenny Martin is back from her recent trip to Maine. While the trip had to be cut short because of Winter Storm Nemo, she was still able to have two meaningful advocacy trainings at Bates College in Lewiston and also meet with some key coalition partners. Jenny is not about to let a “little snow” stop her, though. She is already planning another trip to Maine for early March. She will travel to Bristol, Bangor, and beyond. Maine is such a key state for our work and we are working to create a strong presence there this spring. Do you know someone in Maine? Might they be interested in hearing about RESULTS? Why not find out. Jenny is happy to meet with people one-on-one (especially over coffee!) to talk about RESULTS and our work. She also leads RESULTS informational meetings, advocacy trainings, informal chats! Join our efforts to bring RESULTS to Maine; contact Jenny at [email protected].

Here’s an easy step you can take to help us group RESULTS. Invite someone to a RESULTS Introductory Call. If you are new to RESULTS or know someone who might be interested in learning more about our work, these bi-monthly, 30-minute calls are great for learning more about RESULTS and how you can get involved. The next call is tomorrow, Wednesday, February 13 at 9:00 pm ET. To register for this or another upcoming Intro call, go to www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.

We also have upcoming support and advocacy trainings open to anyone who is interested. Please plan to join and invite others to join these conference calls and webinars:

  • RESULTS Website Training, Wednesday, February 13 at 8:00 pm ET. If you want to learn how to better navigate the RESULTS website, join us for this helpful website tour. We’ll look at areas of the website that will both inform and help improve your effectiveness as an advocate. Please plan to be in front of your computer during the call. To participate, dial (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP or send questions to Jos Linn at [email protected].
  • RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, Tuesday, February 19, at 9pm ET. This support call is for advocates in areas with no active RESULTS group. To participate, dial (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS# (7378587#). RSVP to Jos Linn at [email protected].
  • From Zero to Hero — Moving Your Lawmakers Up the Champion Scale, Wednesday, February 27 at 9:00 pm ET. RESULTS’ most critical relationship building work is with our members of Congress. We build these relationships so that we can influence how they understand and act on issues of poverty. But how do we know when we are making progress? The RESULTS Champion Scale helps you evaluate where are with our members of Congress, and what to do next to further enroll them in the work of ending poverty. Join us on for a webinar on using this helpful tool. To access the webinar, go to http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSZero2Hero. For the audio, dial (775) 996-3560, passcode 796141# or log into Skype at: fuzemeeting.
  • Building Bipartisan Champions conference call, Monday, March 4th at 8:00pm ET. In building relationships with our members of Congress, some of us feel like we’re running into a brick wall; that some elected officials are more concerned with following the “party line” or getting re-elected than anything else. The Building Bipartisan Champions Project is designed to help overcome these challenges. The project brings together RESULTS volunteers with a focus on having a breakthrough in these trying relationships. The group plans to have a call every other month. We invite you to join us. The call-in number is (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. If you want to get started now, check out the great ideas in Ken Patterson’s YouTube video: building relationships with members of Congress.

Quick News

President to Deliver State of the Union Tonight. President Barack Obama will travel to Capitol Hill this evening to deliver the annual State of the Union speech. The economy and jobs are expected to be the main themes, although other issues such as immigration and gun control could also be discussed. Some commentators are hoping that poverty makes it into the speech. As Jonathan Capehart noted in today’s Washington Post, “use of the words ‘poverty’ and ‘poor,’ especially its impact on children and in this particular address, would be the thunderclap of attention needed to kick start a renewed effort to do something about it.” In conjunction with the SOTU, today over 150 organizations called on Congress and President Obama today to create a new National Commission on Children to ensure the safety and well-being of every child in America. You can watch President Obama’s speech on most major networks at 9:00 pm ET. As you do, post on your Facebook page that your watching tonight and hope the President will talk about poverty. Paste this link to our online letter to the editor action (http://capwiz.com/results/issues/alert/?alertid=59692501&MC_plugin=2201) and urge your Facebook friends to send in their own LTE.


Announcements

RESULTS International Conference Registration Now Open! We’re only a little over five months from our biggest event of the year — the RESULTS International Conference. The conference is July 20-23 in Washington, DC. We have an exciting agenda lined up, including keynote speaker Nobel Peace Prize winner Prof. Muhammad Yunus. We’ll have more highlights about the conference in the coming weeks. You’ll want to register soon. Right now, the conference registration is on $165 (a steal for DC conferences). This early bird rate lasts until April 15. Go to our RESULTS International Conference page for more details and REGISTER TODAY!

New Grassroots Board Member Elected. RESULTS welcomes newest Grassroots Board member Beth Wilson to the RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Board. We are excited about Beth’s enthusiasm and commitment to building a strong future for RESULTS. Congratulations, Beth! We also sincerely thank volunteers Mary Albertson, Frank Gilbert, and Rob Marshall for their candidacies and look forward to their continued leadership in our volunteer network. Finally, thank you to all the volunteers who voted — your participation reminds us that RESULTS is a true “grassroots” organization.

Welcome RESULTS Creston! We are pleased to announce that RESULTS officially has a new group in Creston, IA. RESULTS Senior Associate Jos Linn met with the group yesterday for their final new group training. They did some new group planning and also a review of the RESULTS Basics; now they’re rarin’ to go. We look forward to great things from them in the coming months and thank them for their commitment to ending poverty. Congratulations, Creston!


Fundraising Update

To make your 2013 fundraising planning easier, we’ve put together a list of fundraising ideas for 2013 on the RESULTS Blog. Ideas such as:

  • Friends & Family grassroots letter writing campaign in April
  • GiveBIG social media fundraising day on May 2
  • Online fundraising pages for events, races, birthdays, weddings, hunger challenges, and read-a-thons.

Check out these great ideas today. Also, please help out your fellow RESULTS partners holding March fundraisers by sharing their fundraisers with people you know in their areas. You can even link their websites with all the details and a way to donate to them online.

If you have any questions, please contact Cindy Changyit Levin, RESULTS Grassroots Development Associate at [email protected].


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: February 18-22, March 25-April 5. Request face-to-face meetings.

Monday, February 11: How to Have a Powerful Meeting with Your Member of Congress training call, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.

Wednesday, February 13: RESULTS Website Training, 8:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP to Jos Linn at [email protected].

Wednesday, February 13: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP for the call.

Tuesday, February 19: RESULTS Free Agents group (U.S. Poverty) call, 9:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode 7378587# (RESULTS#). For more information, contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

Wednesday, February 27: From Zero to Hero — Moving Your Lawmakers Up the Champion Scale, 9:00 pm ET. For the webinar video, go to http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSZero2Hero. For the audio, dial (775) 996-3560, passcode 796141# or log into Skype at: fuzemeeting

Monday, March 4: Building Bipartisan Champions conference call, 8:00pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262.

Saturday, March 9: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Saturday, July 20 – Tuesday, July 23: 2013 RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC.


RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 466-1397, 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 U.S. Poverty 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 U.S. poverty campaigns.