U.S. Poverty Weekly Update January 14, 2014

Anti-poverty programs improve immediate well-being and also boost the chances that the next generation will be better off.

— RESULTS San Fernando Valley volunteer Anita Lee in a January 11 letter to the editor in the Los Angeles Times

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Send in Your 2014 Group Plans (January Action)

Thank you to everyone who participated in last weekend’s RESULTS U.S. Poverty Conference Call. RESULTS greatly appreciates Debbie Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs for speaking with us on Saturday’s call to remind us all of the important work you all do in helping bring an end to poverty in America. To help accomplish this goal, this month we are focusing on 2014 Group Planning. Group Planning is the process where RESULTS groups and Free Agents set their legislative, media, outreach, fundraising, and group health goals for the year. As the old adage goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

On Saturday’s call, we walked you through the process and then encouraged everyone to send in your plans after the call. This helps RESULTS staff and volunteer leaders begin to support you in reaching your 2014 advocacy, outreach, and group health goals right away (if and when you do complete/update your plan, send us that as well). Even if you did not get your entire plan finished or you wish to add more details at your second meeting this month, please send it what you have now.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send a copy of your group’s 2014 Group Planning Summary to Jos Linn at [email protected] TODAY. Jos will make sure your Regional Coordinators get a copy of your plan so they can begin supporting you. Even if it’s only a first draft, please send it to Jos ASAP. You can always send Jos an updated copy of your 2014 plan when you finalize it. For groups who were not on Saturday’s call, you can download the 2014 Group Planning materials from the RESULTS Homepage (in the green box); please set a time to meet this month to do your group planning and please send Jos your Group Planning Summary after the meeting. The January Action has information to help you with planning.

If you would like to listen to a recording of Saturday’s conference call, as well as download the slides and call summary, you can find them on our National Conference Calls page.


Got Ten Minutes? Push for a Face-to-Face Meeting during Next Week’s Congressional Recess (January Action)

One of the first actions of the year that we highlighted on Saturday’s call is getting face-to-face meetings with your members of Congress. It is important to get those requests in now. Congress will be on recess next week for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and this is a great time to meet with them. We don’t expect Congress to complete the Farm Bill until the end of January (at the earliest) so next week’s recess gives you time to weigh in in-person one last time to tell them you oppose the cuts being proposed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and urge them to protect SNAP in the final bill.

Advocates who get their requests in early and then follow up regularly are more likely to get meetings than those who do not. That’s one reason the 2014 Group Planning Summary specifically has a space to write down when you’ll submit your request for a meeting for each of your members of Congress. Getting your requests in now will improve your chances of getting a meeting sooner rather than later. If they cannot get you on the schedule for this month’s recess, ask to get a meeting as soon as possible AND ask if your members of Congress will be doing any town halls or public events this month.

TAKE ACTION: Call or e-mail the schedulers for your members of Congress to set up face-to-face meetings for upcoming recesses. Be sure to put in requests for all the representatives your group covers and both senators in your state. Both the January Action and the December Action have information to help you with your requests. Also ask about any public events or town halls they may be holding this month. You can find scheduler names and contact information on the Elected Officials page of the RESULTS website.

Once you confirm a lobby meeting, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) for help you with coaching, materials, and tailored requests for your meetings and town halls.


Got Twenty Minutes? Tell Members of Congress to Speak to Leadership about Protecting SNAP

Congress returned to Washington last week and work on the Farm Bill has resumed. Based on the latest news, negotiators are still haggling over some of the details (not related to nutrition). As a result, we don’t expect a bill to come to the House or Senate floor until after next week’s congressional recess. This gives us more time to weigh in with House and Senate leadership about the proposed $8.6 billion over the next ten years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It also means that we are not likely to see an actual Farm Bill proposal on paper until after next week’s recess.

Thank you to everyone who has contacted congressional aides over the last few months about this issue. We know it can feel repetitive sometimes but that repetition is how the message gets through. And we also know many of you are hearing reports that the SNAP cuts are a done deal. That may be true (although nothing is truly done until the bill is signed into law) but that doesn’t mean the message is not worth reiterating. Your constant drumbeat against cuts to SNAP sends a message to Washington that people don’t support cuts to the social safety net. That is vital in helping protect it from other cuts. If Congress proposes to cut SNAP and no one speaks up, then they will assume that no one cares and won’t hesitate to propose cuts again.

Remember, it is because of your advocacy that the Farm Bill has $9 billion in cuts instead of $40 billion or $134 billion (as proposed in last year’s House budget). Congress needs to know that they cannot use programs that help people in poverty as a piggy bank to pay for other stuff. But they won’t unless you tell them.

TAKE ACTION: Contact agriculture aides in your Senate and House offices, urging them to protect SNAP in the final Farm Bill. Since you’ve asked your members of Congress to weigh in with Farm Bill Conference Committee members, ask the aide to now have their bosses tell House and Senate leadership that they oppose the proposed cuts to SNAP. They should tell leadership that we cannot keep using cuts to anti-poverty programs as a way to fund other priorities or reduce the deficit. Low-income Americans didn’t cause the deficit; they shouldn’t be asked to fix it, especially when so little is asked of those at the very top.

You can find aide names on the Elected Officials page of the RESULTS website. Also, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ SNAP Basics has a wealth of information about SNAP, include state data. Also, the slides from last Saturday’s National Conference Call have helpful information about SNAP as well.


Group Planning Creates Focus, Builds Success

Again, our main focus this month is 2014 Group Planning for our volunteer groups and individual activists. Beyond the successes our volunteers have achieved over the years, Group Planning just makes sense. When you are working to bring an end to poverty – no easy task – it helps to have some focus in how you do it. There are countless actions you can take to try to make a difference and no one person or no one group can do them all. If you try, you’ll likely be overwhelmed. Therefore, you have to pick and choose. Group planning culls the list of possibilities and allows you to focus on what you want and can do. It allows you to play to your strengths and broaden you vision for what you can accomplish.

Planning also gives you the chance to challenge yourself to try something new. When we’re caught in the moment, reacting to thing right in front of us, it’s hard to see a new way of doing things. We instinctively revert to familiar habits to solve the problem. But when we deliberate ahead of time, when we ponder our actions three, five, ten steps before we take them, we can see things more clearly. We can identify the gaps in our thinking and areas ripe for growth. Perhaps you want to take on a new leadership role in your group? Or maybe you want to move your members of Congress from a Leader to a Champion on the Champion Scale. Or you may want to hold your first RESULTS fundraiser. All these and any other goals you pursue are made easier when you can map out a plan to make them happen.

One thing to note about your plans: don’t skimp on the leadership section (section A of the Group Planning Summary). Good leadership is the key to a strong group and strong groups share that leadership. Be it group leader, point persons for members of Congress, media coordinator, or any other role, don’t rely on 1 or 2 people in your group to do the lion’s share of the work. Share the leadership and you’ll find your advocacy experience more rewarding AND more fun.

TAKE ACTION: Although we are urging you to send in your Group Plans as soon as possible, we don’t want that to be the end of the process. Yes, we want plans in this week (unless your group has yet to meet this month) but that’s not the end of the story. The plan you send us now doesn’t have to be your final plan. Group plans should never be static; they are meant to change. Take time at your next meeting to fill in the gaps from your original plan.

To help you, we have some support calls coming up to help you reach some of your 2014 goals. Our January 21 Monthly Media Support Call will provide you support in meeting your media advocacy goals. These calls are a regular, open discussion about how best to work with the media on issues of poverty. Anyone is welcome. The call is Tuesday, January 21 at 8:00 pm ET, (267) 507-0370, passcode 4471061#. If you have questions, please contact Ginnie Vogts at [email protected]. In addition, we will also host a January 27 Webinar on Expanding RESULTS this month. RESULTS has a goal of expanding into new congressional districts including 10 new U.S. poverty groups. Join this introductory webinar to discuss some of the best practices for starting new RESULTS groups and recruiting new activists. The webinar is Monday, January 27 at 8:00 pm ET. To join from your computer or mobile device, copy this link into your browser: http://fuze.me/22423683. To join the audio, call (855) 346-3893, passcode 22423683#.

If you have questions about Group Planning or need help in submitting your plan, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]).


Media Action: Remind the Public that the War on Poverty Worked

Last week was the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty, started by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The War on Poverty spawned many invaluable programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, the modern Food Stamp Program (SNAP), Head Start, and an expansion of Social Security. And it has worked. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, anti-poverty programs kept 41 million people out of poverty in 2012. It was an ambitious endeavor and one that all Americans should be proud of and celebrate.

Unfortunately, there are those out there who are using this occasion not to celebrate the War on Poverty’s achievements, but exaggerate its shortfalls and declare it a failure. Worse, they are using this narrative to call for familiar but dangerous cuts to the social safety net, including turning SNAP and Medicaid into lump sum block grants to states and cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit for families. For politicians to claim that they care about people living in poverty and then propose to force more people in poverty by shredding the social safety net is calloused and wrong.

It’s important to remember that the fight to end poverty is not just about living wages, economic fairness, and asset building. When you get down to it, it’s about worth. It’s about value. People who want to cut or eliminate anti-poverty programs are really telling those struggling financially that they are not worth it. If we value all persons, if we believe everyone has worth, then we should act accordingly. The War on Poverty was never about giving people the good life. It is about lowering the barriers to true prosperity – poverty, hunger, economic insecurity – and giving people the freedom to create the good life for themselves.

TAKE ACTION: Send a letter to the editor reminding readers in your community that the War on Poverty has made tremendous progress in reducing poverty in America, but that the job is not done yet. You can use our online LTE alert to send your letter today. There are also a number of new resources available to help push back against the false claim that the War on Poverty has failed. Here are just a few of them:


RESULTS Outreach Update, Free Agents Calls Next Tuesday

RESULTS is working to expand our advocacy family into new districts and new states in 2014. This past weekend, Jos Linn, RESULTS Grassroots Manager for U.S. Poverty Campaigns, started the RESULTS new group training with a new group in Eagle Butte, SD (much thanks goes to RESULTS Global Grassroots Manager Ken Patterson who started this group in December). The group is made up of members of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. Jos will be working with them the next few months on the RESULTS Basics. These advocates are a welcomed addition to the RESULTS family and will bring invaluable experience to this work. Welcome, Eagle Butte!

RESULTS Grassroots Organizer Myrdin Thompson is traveling around the Midwest this month to help build new RESULTS groups and advocates. This week, she will be working to start a new RESULTS group, in partnership with Circles Indianapolis. The meeting is this Thursday, January 16, 5:30 – 8:00pm at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, 418 East 34th St. in Indianapolis, IN. Myrdin will also be doing a RESULTS presentation in Evansville, IN with the Circles group there on January 23, 6:30-8 pm at the Central Library, Browning Events Room B, 200 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Evansville, IN. Finally, Myrdin will be doing an advocacy presentation to help build our presence in the Ohio River Valley on January 27 from 5:00 – 6:30 pm, Family Scholar House Parkland Campus, 1309 Catalpa St. in Louisville, KY. If you know people in these areas, please invite them to come to these events. For more details, contact Myrdin at [email protected].

Finally, the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents will meet for the first time this year next week. Because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, both Free Agents calls will be on Tuesday, January 21; one at 1:00 pm ET and the other at 9:00 pm ET. The call-in number is (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096. Choose whichever call is most convenient. On these calls, Jos Linn will be doing Group Planning with our Free Agents. If you live in an area where there is no existing RESULTS group but you want support in being a RESULTS activist, join the Free Agents. All are welcome. Contact Jos at [email protected] for more details.


Quick News

Early Learning Gets Big Boost in Budget Deal! This morning, a bi-partisan $1.1 trillion budget proposal was released to fund the federal government for FY 2014. And the news is very good for Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care assistance. Head Start will actually see a $1.025 billion increase ($500 million for Early Head Start); this is a 13.5 percent increase for a FY 2014 total allocation of $8.6 billion. Essentially, this undoes sequestration for Head Start/Early Head Start. In addition, the Child Care Development Block Grant will see a $154 million increase for a total allocation of $2.3 billion. The House is expected to vote on the measure tomorrow, with the Senate following suit later this week. Because the deadline to reach a deal is January 15, Congress is expected to pass 3-day continuing resolution to allow the Senate to finish the bill. We’ll have more details on the impact of these increases in the coming weeks.

Unemployment Insurance Bill Stalls in Senate. Last week, it appeared that an extension of long-term unemployment benefits, which expired for 1.3 million Americans in December, would move fairly smoothly in the Senate. That prediction was premature. After overcoming a Republican filibuster last week, it the bill appears to have stalled for now as both sides negotiate the duration of the extension and how to pay for it (as usual, programs that benefit low- and middle-income Americans require a “pay-for” while tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations do not). The Senate is supposed to take up the measure later today. Even if it does pass the Senate, an extension still faces an uphill climb in the House. Tell Congress to quit playing politics with people’s lives and extend UI benefits no. Use the Coalition on Human Needs’ UI Action Alert to send your message today.

For updates on all our U.S. Poverty Campaigns, see our U.S. Poverty Campaigns Summary on the RESULTS website.


Fundraising Update

Make 2014 a year for celebration! You can commemorate special moments in the lives of your loved ones with a gift to RESULTS and add to the joy of the occasion by helping people in poverty have their own milestone celebrations. The person you honor will get a note from our DC office telling them that you've made a donation in their name. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or a completed new years resolution are all causes for celebration. So, celebrate with our cause!

If you would like to  send in your donation by mail, check with your group leaders for special Celebration envelopes that were mailed out to groups last year or contact Jerusa  Contee at [email protected] to have some delivered to you. Or, you can make your gifts at www.results.org/donate and select the option to make your contribution "in honor of" your special occasion.


Announcements

Give Feedback to Grassroots Board Members. The four RESULTS Grassroots Board Members (Heide Craig, Lydia Pendley, Ginnie Vogts, and Beth Wilson) have taken on a larger role of communication between the RESULTS grassroots network to the Board. They would like to hear from you if you have questions or ideas. For questions or suggestions to the Grassroots Board Members please contact them at: [email protected].


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: January 20-24. Request face-to-face meetings.

Monday, January 20: Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday (All RESULTS offices closed).

Tuesday, January 21: Media Support Call, 8:00 pm ET. (267) 507-0370, passcode 4471061.

Tuesday, January 21: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Calls, 1:00pm ET and 9:00 pm ET. (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096.

Friday, January 24: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.

Monday, January 27: Expanding RESULTS webinar, 8:00 pm ET. To join from your computer or mobile device, copy this link into your browser: http://fuze.me/22423683. To join the audio, call (201) 479-4595 or (855) 346-3893. If prompted, enter the meeting number 22423683#.

Saturday, February 8: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Saturday, June 21 - Tuesday, June 24: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. More details soon.


RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 466-1397, 1101 15th St NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005. 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 email 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.