U.S. Poverty Weekly Update March 6, 2012

We've bought into the belief that this kind of behavior is reserved for the poor, and that all they want is a handout. No. All they want is to be able to make a decent living, and to be able to provide for their children.

— April Townsend, a low-income working mother in Pittsburgh, highlighted in a must-read Huffington Post piece

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


Remind Your Local Group about the RESULTS National Conference Call THIS Saturday at 12:30 pm ET

Join us this Saturday, March 10 for the RESULTS National Conference Call. We are pleased to have Helen Blank, Director of Leadership and Public Policy at the National Women’s Law Center, as our guest speaker this month. As we spend this month urging members of Congress to protect Head Start and child care services in the FY 2013 budget, Helen will talk to us about what to expect from Congress this year with regard to early learning and how we can make the most effective case for protecting these vital services. We will also review the March Action, get updates about the Friends and Family fundraising campaign and the RESULTS International Conference, and hear about the great things RESULTS groups are up to. We look forward to a great call.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes and remind your local RESULTS group about this RESULTS U.S. Poverty national conference call this Saturday, March 10 at 12:30 pm ET. Coordinate with your group where you will meet for the call. To join the call, dial (888) 409-6709 and once connected to the operator, ask for the RESULTS National Conference Call. Plan to call in no later than 12:27 pm ET to give time to the operator to connect you with the call.

We will also again be offering a live video feed of the RESULTS office to supplement the audio-based conference call using Skype. To participate, download Skype at www.skype.com and request to add “results.cf” as a contact. Then, send a chat message on Skype to “results.cf” and let us know you’d like to be included on the videoconference.


Urge People to Register for Tomorrow’s RESULTS Intro Call (and Plan to Join “Researching Your Members of Congress” Training on Thursday)

Our bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Calls continue to be a success. These 30-45 minute calls are a fun and easy introduction to RESULTS and our work. Attendees find the calls informative and helpful; as a result, we have connected new activists to RESULTS groups around the country and have also generated leads for starting new groups. If you know anyone interested in learning more about RESULTS (or you’re interested yourself), please urge them to register for our next RESULTS Introductory Call TOMORROW NIGHT, March 7 at 9:00 pm ET.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to invite friends, family and colleagues to register for the RESULTS Into Call tomorrow at 9:00 pm ET (and feel free to register yourself if you like). Send them this link: http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet to sign up for an upcoming call. If you cannot make tomorrow’s call, our next call will be Friday, March 16 at 1:00 pm ET.

In addition, long-time RESULTS volunteer and regional coordinator Allison Gallaher will give her wildly popular and very effective training on researching your members of Congress. Learn how to learn about your members of Congress before you meet with them back home or in Washington, DC during the RESULTS International Conference. Note that you will want to be in front of a computer with internet access for this conference call. The call is THIS Thursday, March 8 at 9:00 pm ET. To participate, call (712) 432-3100 and enter passcode 761262.


Urge Members of Congress to Protect Head Start and Child Care Services (March Action)

As we noted last week, this month’s action returns us to familiar legislative territory —protecting Head Start, Early Head Start and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in the FY 2013 budget. In 2011, we spent most of our time focusing on protecting Head Start and child care services in the FY 2011 and 2012 budgets. Fortunately, because of your tenacity, persistence, and commitment, we succeeded—Head Start, Early Head Start, and CCDBG were spared the drastic cuts proposed by the House which helped these programs continue to provide high-quality learning services to low-income children around the country.

Unfortunately, the budget cutting hysteria that gripped Washington last year has not abated. The House will release its budget in the coming weeks, and it is expected to again include significant cuts to non-defense discretionary programs. On top of that, more cuts loom on the horizon. As part of the Budget Control Act passed last August, across the board budget cuts (aka “sequestration”) are scheduled to go into effect in January 2013. While many low-income programs are protected from these cuts (such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the EITC, Child Tax Credit (CTC), and TANF), Head Start and discretionary child care funding are not. If allowed to go into effect next year, all non-defense domestic discretionary programs will see a 9 percent cut. For Head Start and child care, this could result in service cuts, enrollment cuts, and teacher layoffs.

Whether the sequestration cuts take place or not, it imperative that Head Start and child care programs do not see cuts this year. We want Congress to protect these services by:

  • Increasing funding for Head Start and Early Head Start by $325 million over the FY 2012 levels. This allows for a more substantial cost of living increase that reflects costs of keeping qualified staff.
  • Increasing funding for CCDBG by $825 million over FY 2012 levels. This will help make up some ground lost last year when some of the CCDBG slots created in 2009 and 2010 were cut.

While the final funding levels for these and other programs will not be decided until after the election, we can start building the momentum for protecting them now. In the next week or so, a "Dear Colleague" letter will be released in the House. A "Dear Colleague" letter is a letter from one or more lawmakers to their colleagues in Congress asking them to sign on in support of a specific position on a particular issue. It is then sent to key decision-makers in Congress on that issue. This letter will urge lawmakers to support funding for Head Start and child care, which will be sent to House Labor-HHS Subcommittee Chair Denny Rehberg (R-MT-AL) and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3). When the letter is finalized (hopefully in the next few days), we want to help build support for it by soliciting our representatives to sign on to the letter. We will have more information about the letter and getting co-signers on Saturday’s national conference call.

TAKE ACTION: The March Action will be ready later this week and will provide tips on getting you representatives to sign on to the early childhood “Dear Colleague” letter. In the meantime, take twenty minutes to write or call your representatives and senators urging support for Head Start and child care assistance. Tell them to urge House and Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee Chairmen Denny Rehberg (House) and Tome Harkin (Senate) to increase Head Start/Early Head Start funding by $325 million and CCDBG by $825 million in the FY 2013 budget. Use our March Outreach Action on Head Start and Child Care Funding for talking points and background for your letters and calls. Also, see our Head Start and child care request and background sheet for additional information.


Follow Up on Your Meeting Requests (February Action)

After being back in DC for a week, the House will go on recess again this week, March 9-18. In addition, both the House and Senate will be on recess the first two weeks of April. This is a great time to be meeting with them as they start working on the FY 2013 budget and new plans for deficit reduction. Follow up on your requests to meet with members of Congress to see if you can secure a meeting for one of these upcoming recesses.

TAKE ACTION: Follow up on the February Action. Contact schedulers to check on your request for a face-to-face meeting with House and Senate members when they are home. The House will be on recess March 9-18 and again March 30-April 15. The Senate will be on recess April 2-15. You can find schedulers’ names and contact info on our Elected Officials page. The February Action has tips on scheduling a meeting, as well as talking points for each of our major issues. In your meetings, be sure to take our 2012 Request and Background sheets. These one-page “leave behinds” are summaries of our 2012 requests and background on each issue. We have sheets covering low-income tax credits, the Saver’s Bonus, and Head Start and child care .

Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff to help you and your group prepare for your meeting(s).


Fundraising Update — Follow Up with Friends and Family

We're off to a terrific start with our Friends & Family Campaign! Thank you to all our Friends & Family participants for all your great energy and enthusiasm. We've raised over $9000, almost one-third of the way to our $30,000 goal. Kudos to our top earning online individuals so far: Phyllis Behen, Sandra Eagle, Margaret Smith, John Hosek, and Nancy Gardiner. Phyllis and Sandra are part of the Costal Connecticut team that is currently our top earning volunteer team followed by Kitsap County, Dallas, and Omaha. 

To keep up this great momentum, make sure you follow up from your e-mails and letters with a phone call to your potential donors. RESULTS volunteer Steve Arnold from Indiana has shared that his follow up calls are much easier than he anticipated and he is finding many of his donors are willing and happy to donate. We have two scripts to help you make your up calls; one for follow up on your mailed letter appeal and the other for follow up after promoting your webpage on email or social media.

Also, if you have a fundraising webpage, check out our blog entry with tips to promote your fundraising webpage, as well as detailed instructions on how to use email, Facebook and email signatures. As always, you can find complete instructions and help with any aspect of the campaign in our Friends & Family toolkit. Also, please contact Cindy Levin at [email protected] right away if you have questions about your webpage or any other part of your campaign.

Thank you again for all your hard work and getting our Friends & Family effort off to a great start!


We Welcome Our New Congressional Hunger Fellows Tavia Benjamin and Allison Burket

RESULTS is please to welcome our newest Congressional Hunger Fellows Tavia Benjamin and Allison Burket to RESULTS. Each year, the Congressional Hunger Center (CHC) sponsors the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship. Each year, the CHC selects twenty individuals for the eleven-month program. Fellows spend the first half of their service term with urban and rural community-based organizations that are working to end hunger at the local level. Next, the fellows move to Washington, DC to complete the year with national organizations involved in the anti-hunger and poverty movement.

For their field placement, both Tavia and Allison worked on hunger issues in the Detroit area. Tavia conducted a feasibility study for a healthy foods co-operative retail store in Detroit, where there are currently no supermarkets. She conducted community surveys and focus groups to gather community input, as well as completing market research. Her findings and recommendations will help Detroit Black Community Food Security Network create a strong foundation for food co-op development.

A native of Winston-Salem, NC, Tavia graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011 with degrees in global studies and anthropology (and a focus on transnational politics/social movements and Latin America). Tavia is a Chancellor Carolina Scholar, and served as a campus leader and activist as well as a Resident Advisor and lead organizer for food justice events. She has also conducted original research and fieldwork in the U.S., Tanzania, Mexico, and Guatemala on issues of food justice, gender, race, and health. Welcome, Tavia!

In her field placement, Allison supported the Detroit Food Policy Council’s efforts to expand healthy food access for all Detroit residents. She developed outreach and communications tools and strategies for the council’s work groups. She also conducted research and mapping projects currently being undertaken across the city for the Annual Food System Report.

Allison is from Rockville, MD. In 2009, she graduated with a degree in international studies and environmental studies from Kenyon College, where she led a student organization dedicated to supporting and encouraging local food networks. After graduating, she interned with the Community Food Security Coalition, volunteered with local urban agriculture projects in Washington, D.C. and worked with Bread for the City’s advocacy department on outreach and organizing around food justice. She loves to talk about bikes, book, and food and has a special affinity for bread recipes and sweet potatoes. Welcome, Allison!

Both Tavia and Allison will be at RESULTS for the next five months. While here, Tavia will focus her efforts on our Early Childhood Development campaign while Allison works on our Economic Opportunity for All campaign. We are thrilled to have them on the RESULTS team for the next few months and are grateful to have their skills and talents on staff.


Quick News

One in Five Americans Struggles to Put Food on the Table. Last week, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released its “food hardship” report. The report states that nearly one in five Americans (18.6 percent) reported that in 2011, they at times did not have enough food to feed themselves and/or their family. Data was gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Project. “Rising food prices, continuing high unemployment and underemployment, and flat food stamp benefit allotments all contributed to the high food hardship rate in 2011,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Food stamp beneficiaries lost more than six percent of their food purchasing power because of this increase.”

Huffington Post to Highlight U.S. Poverty in 2012. Last week, the Huffington Post blog announced that they will be hosting a series pieces throughout the year highlighting the struggles of low-income Americans called “Breakdown: Americans on the Edge”. Please take a few minutes to read the first piece in the series called “For America's Least Fortunate, the Grip of Poverty Spans Generations” by Tom Zeller, Jr. It paints a stark picture of the face of poverty in America today and is a must-read for any advocate, policymaker, and critic. Please read it and then forward to others, highlight it on your Facebook page, send links to the congressional aides you know. It is worth it.

Top One Percent Saw Big Income Gains in 2010. A new report from economist Emmanuel Saez shows that the income gains from the economic recovery after the Great Recession have concentrated among the top one percent. The data shows that in 2010, income for the top one percent grew by 11.6 percent, while income for the bottom 99 percent grew by only 0.2 percent. This means that the top one percent garnered 93 percent of all the income gains that year. For those at the very top, the gap in real terms is staggering — the bottom 99 percent saw their average income grow by $80 while the top 0.01 percent saw their income grow by $4.2 million. This data once again demonstrates the imperative of why Congress must address the staggering wealth gap in the U.S. A good start would be passing the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2010 (implements a minimum 30 percent income tax for millionaires).


RESULTS International Conference

Spring is almost here... and so is the deadline for early registration for the RESULTS International Conference (July 21-24)! If you register by April 16th, your fee is only $150 to experience inspiring speakers, educational workshops on effective poverty solutions, advocacy skills trainings, and lobbying on Capitol Hill. Start your 2012 RESULTS International Conference experience by:


Announcements

Help Us Grow RESULTS. We are working to start new groups in Rochester, NY, Montana, Maine and Massachusetts. If you know anyone in these or other places around the U.S. and would like to connect them with RESULTS, please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Team.

Send in Your Group Plans. Most RESULTS U.S. Poverty Groups have completed their group plan meeting but only a few have submitted their plans. We are eager to see what inspiring goals you have set for yourselves in 2012. Please submit your final Group Plan Summary form to your group members, Regional Coordinator and Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) as soon as possible.


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House recesses, March 9-18, March 30-April 15. Senate recess, April 2-13. Request face-to-face meetings!

Wednesday, March 7: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.

Thursday, March 8: “Researching Your Members of Congress” Training Call, 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100 and enter passcode 761262.

Saturday, March 10: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. (888) 409-6709. Listen to previous conference calls online.

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 Domestic 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.