U.S. Poverty Weekly Update May 6, 2014

Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency ask the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.

— Martin Luther King, Jr., as quoted by Tavis Smiley on the April 29 National Town Hall with RESULTS

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Join the RESULTS National Conference Call with Rep. Barbara Lee THIS Saturday at 12:30 pm ET

Join us this Saturday for the RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call. We are thrilled that Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Chair of the Out of Poverty Caucus and the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity will join us to talk about how we can keep moving members of Congress to make ending poverty a priority. You can read more about her poverty work at http://lee.house.gov/issues/poverty. We’ll also talk about the May Action which focuses on generating media on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) (see more below). Finally, we’ll talk about the upcoming RESULTS International Conference and why you should come to DC in June. Join us for this exciting call.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to remind your local RESULTS group about the RESULTS monthly national conference call this Saturday, May 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 have the May 2014 Conference Call Overview slides available later this week. You will find them on the RESULTS Home Page in the “Take Action” box in the top right-hand corner.


Got Ten Minutes? Follow Up from Last Week’s Town Hall with Tavis Smiley (April Action)

Thank you to everyone who participated in the RESULTS National Town Hall with Tavis Smiley last Tuesday. The call was a great success, with an estimated 200 people participating. Tavis Smiley, Marianne Williams, Angela Sutton, and Joanne Carter all did a great job of inspiring us to keep pushing lawmakers and the media on poverty in America (you can read a recap of the call below).

Getting new people interested in RESULTS was a primary motivator for this call. For all those people who attended your local events or dialed in on their own, it’s time to follow up and urge them to get involved. This not only includes the people who were on the call, but also those you invited who did not call in (they can listen to the recording of the call). Make sure all your hard work at outreach pays off – follow up TODAY and urge people to get involved.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to do follow-up with the new people who attended your Tavis Smiley outreach event. This is a critical step in making sure your outreach event is a lasting success. Please follow up personally with each person (if you’re in a RESULTS group, divide this up among the people in your group) Personal follow-up, just like inviting, makes all the difference. Also, please be sure to follow up with everyone you invited, whether they participated in the call or not. Here are things you can include in your follow-up conversations:

For more tips on doing good follow-up from the Tavis Smiley event, see last week’s Weekly Update.  If you have questions or need coaching to do your follow-up, please contact Jos Linn at [email protected]


Got Twenty Minutes? Write Letters to the Editor about the EITC and CTC (May Action)

On last week’s RESULTS National Town Hall, guest speaker Tavis Smiley talked about how little the media covers issues of poverty. This month, we want to start changing that reality by generating media on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC).

The EITC and CTC are America’s most effective poverty-reduction programs behind Social Security. In 2012, these credits lifted 10 million people out of poverty, many of them children. As many of you know, RESULTS has been working successfully to protect and expand the EITC and CTC over the last six years. In 2009, RESULTS and out allies were able to secure important, improvements to the EITC and CTC which expanded access and benefits for millions of working families. Unfortunately, Congress refuses to make these improvements permanent. In early 2013, Congress passed the “fiscal cliff” bill which made many tax breaks for middle class and wealthy Americans permanent. However, the improvements to the EITC and CTC were merely extended and will expire at the end of 2017.

Right now, the House is working on a tax bill that would make permanent tax breaks for corporations and businesses, costing over $300 billion in the next ten years. None of these provisions are offset (i.e. paid for). Yet House tax leaders mention nothing of making the EITC and CTC improvements permanent in this bill. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “If Congress lets them expire, a mother with two children who works full time at the minimum wage would lose $1,725 a year in her CTC beginning in 2018.  Marriage penalties would be higher for many working married couples, and many working families with three or more children would lose part of their EITC.  In all, about 26 million children in 13 million low- and moderate-income working families would be worse off.”

How can Congress justify giving large corporations billions in tax breaks, some of which pay little or no income taxes, while ignoring the needs of hard-working, low-income Americans (hint: they can’t). Use the May Action (available later this week) to remind members of Congress of this hypocrisy and to put working families first.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes draft and submit a letter to the editor to your local paper urging Congress to use the new “tax extenders” bill to make the EITC and CTC improvements permanent. The May Action will be available later this week and will have talking points and background information to help you draft a powerful letter. Be sure to urge your members of Congress by name to put working families first in new tax legislation. You can find media outlets in your state in a Media Guide. We encourage all members of your local RESULTS group to write letters and submit them; this will increase the chance of getting at least one of them published. If you have questions or need help with drafting or editing your letters, please contact Jos Linn at [email protected].  


National Town Hall with Tavis Smiley Was a Great Success

Thank you again to everyone who attended last week’s RESULTS Tavis Smiley Virtual Town Hall event. This was a great call with lots of inspiring words about the importance of your work as advocates for the end of poverty. Tavis Smiley started off by harking back to Martin Luther King, Jr. and how in the last years of his life, he turned his attention to addressing racism, militarism, and poverty. He noted that when Dr. King began speaking of these issues, many friends and allies abandoned their support. We are still facing that struggle today, where poverty is dismissed as a systemic problem and Americans are vilified for being poor. Mr. Smiley also noted that poverty accounts for about 0.02 percent of all stories in the media. He said we must do better and the work of organizations like RESULTS can help.

Also on the call was author, activist, and RESULTS Board member Marianne Williamson. She noted that the United States ranks second in the world’s develop countries in child poverty ((about 22 percent); only Romania is worse. She said she supports RESULTS because we are taking practical approaches to solving poverty and teaching people that they can make a difference. In other words, RESULTS gets things done.

We also heard from Angela Sutton of Witnesses to Hunger. Angela spoke at last year’s RESULTS International Conference about the struggles she has faced as a single mother living in poverty. Through the Witnesses program, she is working to educate lawmakers about the real effects of poverty and what policy changes can make the biggest difference for families. Mr. Smiley challenged all of us to create more platforms for people like Angela to tell their story.

Finally, RESULTS Executive Director Joanne Carter provided a great overview of RESULTS to new people on the call and urged them to get involved with our work. This was an exciting event for RESULTS and we are thankful to everyone who helped make it happen. You can also help continue this conversation with Tavis Smiley and others at this year’s RESULTS International Conference, where he will be speaking. In addition, Mr. Smiley will be hosting Ending Poverty: America’s Silent Spaces, a $3 million, four-year tour around American talking about how we can alleviate poverty in the U.S. RESULTS is proud to work with Mr. Smiley on this effort and look forward to helping people turn out for events during the tour.

We deeply thank Tavis Smiley, Marianne Williamson, Angela Sutton, Joanne Carter, and everyone who dialed in for being on this call. We plan to do more events like this in the future. If you did not participate in the call, you can listen to a recording of it on the RESULTS website. In addition, Tavis Smiley highlighted the call on his radio show last week. You can listen to it at his radio show website. Finally, if you invited people to dial into last week’s call, please follow up with them and urge them to get involved. We need their voices now more than ever.


giveBIG to RESULTS Today!

Tell the world to giveBIG to RESULTS today! Through midnight tonight (PT) May 6, donations to RESULTS Educational Fund (REF) are stretched on “giveBIG” Day hosted by The Seattle Foundation. Your gift today will be multiplied by a prorated portion of matching funds from foundations and sponsors. It’s easy! Just visit our official giveBIG site and click "donate now!"  By donating, you could even win a “Golden Ticket” to receive an additional $1,000 donated to REF; a round-trip airline ticket donated to REF; and a $100 gift card for you to spend at Starbucks. Be sure to giveBIG today!

Also, thank you to all our grassroots volunteers who are working on fundraising events on top of all the effective advocacy they are doing this year. Here's a glimpse of what they're cooking up to help fund all the great staff support that goes into training powerful advocates:

  • May 16 Anchorage, AK: House party with Grameen Foundation President and CEO Alex Counts
  • June 29 Denver, CO: Major Donor dinner with John Hatch
  • July 4 Salt Lake City, UT: Independence Day Firework Viewing with Dr. Bobby John of India
  • July 10 PG County, VA: House party with Evelyn Kibuchi of Kenya
  • July 10 Tacoma, WA: House party with Carol Ny
  • July 10 Kitsap, WA: House Party with RESULTS Executive Director Dr. Joanne Carter
  • Sept 28 Kitsap, WA: Dinner with speaker
  • Oct 19 Columbus, OH: Bluegrass bar event
  • Nov 21 Houston, TX: Gala dinner with Kul Gautum of Nepal

Do these ideas inspire you to host your own fundraiser? Contact Jen at [email protected] to receive a “Fundraiser to Go” flash drive full of resources to help you create your own event!


Join Actor Sean Astin at the RESULTS International Conference

RESULTS is happy to announce another special guest coming to this year’s RESULTS International Conference. Actor and activist Sean Astin – star of hit movies “The Goonies”, “Rudy”, and the “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy – will be joining us in Washington, DC this June!

Mr. Astin has embarked on a new journey of citizen engagement with a political talk show called Vox Populi: The Voice of the Occasionally Interested People. The show focuses on civil discourse as a way to engage a public that tends to shy away from divisive, sensational media. Like RESULTS, he believes that constructive communication between citizens and their elected officials can be a path to positive change in our country. Last week, his show which featured RESULTS Director of Global Grassroots Advocacy Ken Patterson, Vanessa Garcia, RESULTS Orange County group leader, and Mark Campbell, Regional Coordinator and co-founder of the RESULTS University of California Riverside group. You can watch a webcast of the show at http://www.voxpopuliradio.com/ (the RESULTS portion starts at the 58:00 minute mark).

We are thrilled that Mr. Astin will now be joining us in Washington, DC at the RESULTS International Conference, June 21-24. He will joining other notable guests Tavis Smiley, Marian Wright Edelman, Dr. Jim Kim, and Witnesses to Hunger, just to name a few. See the updated conference agenda on our website to see what kind of experience you’ll have in DC this June. If you haven’t done so yet, register for the Conference today!

Need Financial Assistance? RESULTS has limited scholarship funds available for current RESULTS volunteers to attend this year’s conference. Contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) by May 15 for details. In addition, we have a few volunteer slots available -- by volunteering at least eight hours to help with conference logistics, we will waive the conference registration fee. However, you must apply now as these slots will fill up very quickly. See the volunteer application for details. 

Set Up Your Lobby Prep Call. For those attending the conference, please contact RESULTS Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson to set up a conference call to prepare you for Lobby Day. Meredith will provide you specific coaching for your individual members of Congress including which issues to focus on, and which aides to contact. If possible, please have everyone in your group attending the conference on the prep call. We want to do these calls before you set up your lobby meetings so you can provide details about your meetings when you set them up. Please contact her at [email protected] to set up a meeting as soon as possible.

Reserve Your Hotel Room Now. If you are coming to the conference, please be sure to reserve your room at the DoubleTree Crystal City today. There is no cost to reserve your room now; you will not be charged until you get to DC. We have a block of rooms available at a discounted room rate through May 17. After that, we cannot guarantee the discounted rate nor can we guarantee you’ll have a room. Go to our International Conference page for information on how to reserve your room today.


Call on Congress to Protect Nutrition Standards in the WIC Program

RESULTS has long supported the WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for Women, Infants, and Children) program, which provides approximately 9 million low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children under age 5 with nutritious foods, counseling on healthy eating, and health care referrals. WIC is a supplemental program that focuses on providing key nutrients that low-income pregnant and nursing women, infants, and young children need. The WIC food package has been designed by experts at the National Academies of Sciences based on nutrition, and it does not include certain foods, such as white starches.

RESULTS is extremely concerned that Congress – rather than nutrition experts – is on the verge of dictating what will be in the WIC package. In particular, we oppose efforts to include white potatoes in the WIC package over the advice of the National Academy of Sciences’ experts. Unfortunately, special interests might prevail in pushing Congress to override nutrition experts. They are pushing for an amendment when the Senate Appropriations Committee marks up the fiscal 2015 budget for the Department of Agriculture on May 22 which would mandate white potatoes as part of the WIC nutrition package. Should this succeed, it could lead to more obesity and open the door to Congress mandating other foods which would undermine the integrity and effectiveness of WIC.

TAKE ACTION: Last year, many of you got to know agriculture aide in our work to protect SNAP. Reconnect with those aides (or contact them for the first time), especially aides in the Senate, and urge them to tell their bosses to oppose any efforts to override the WIC nutrition standards set by the National Academies of Sciences.


Join May 12 Training Call on Making the Most of Your Meetings with Members of Congress

RESULTS has a 2014 goal of getting face-to-face meetings with every member of the House and one-third of senators in districts and states we cover. To help make the most of these meetings, RESULTS will host a training on Monday, May 12 at 8:00 pm ET called "Winning 'Em Over: Gaining Buy-in From Your Member of Congress and Staff." This training call, led by RESULTS volunteer and professional coach Sunil Bhaskaran, will offer a fresh perspective on selling your advocacy message more effectively through the building of trust, social proof, and authority over time. This will be a great opportunity to gain new insights and skills in your advocacy work. Please plan to participate. To join, go to http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventID=54266718. For audio only participants, dial (425) 440-5100, pin code 539904#.


Quick News

Minimum Wage Bill Stalls Again. Last week, the Senate attempted to pass legislation raising the national minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $10.10/hour. The legislation failed to move forward when Democrats could not garner the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster of the bill. A recent Congressional Budget Office analysis said that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would lift 900,000 people out of poverty, but could cost jobs as well. Democrats in the Senate have vowed to bring the legislation up again later this year. Even if it does pass, it faces an uncertain future in the GOP-led House.

Unemployment Insurance Extension Stalls in House. Back in April, the Senate passed a bi-partisan extension of unemployment insurance benefits by a vote of 59-38. The bill would extend unemployment insurance benefits for long-term unemployed Americans for five months, retroactively to January. Benefits under the bill would expire June 1. In 2012, unemployment insurance lifted 2.5 million people out of poverty in 2012. The bill has been referred to the House, which so far has refused to take up the bill.

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


Announcements

Attend the RESULTS Intro Call Next Week. Our next bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Call will be held next Wednesday, May 14 at 9:00 pm ET. Intro Calls are a great next step for new people you know who participated in last week’s Tavis Smiley call. If you want to learn more about RESULTS and how you can get involved, plan to attend the call and/or invite a friend to call in too. You can register for this or another upcoming call at: http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.

Give Feedback to Grassroots Board Members. The four RESULTS Grassroots Board Members (Heide Craig, Lydia Pendley, Ginnie Vogts, and Beth Wilson) would like to hear from you if you have questions or ideas about RESULTS and our work. Send your questions or suggestions to Heide at: [email protected].


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House: May 12-16, 23-27; Senate: May 26-30. Request face-to-face meetings.

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

Monday, May 12: RESULTS advocacy training "Winning 'Em Over: Gaining Buy-in From Your Member of Congress and Staff", 8:00 pm ET. To join, go to http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventID=54266718. For audio only participants, dial (425) 440-5100, pin code 539904#.

Tuesday, May 20: RESULTS Media Support Call, 8:00 pm ET. (712) 775-7399, passcode 954747#.

Tuesday, May 20: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Calls, 1:00 pm ET and 9:00 pm ET. (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096.

Saturday, June 21 - Tuesday, June 24: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. REGISTER TODAY!


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.