U.S. Poverty Weekly Update September 11, 2012

People of faith, whether Republican or Democrat, should not be led to support uncritically one party or the other. Instead we should be voicing loudly our passions for the nation’s poor and vulnerable, for those who have so little political influence.

— RESULTS Lindsborg (KS) volunteer Vic Streufert in the “Pastor’s Corner” of the Lindsborg News-Record (September 5, 2012)

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Got Two Minutes? Send a Letter to the Editor Telling Congress to Take U.S. Poverty Seriously (September Action)

The RESULTS September 2012 Action is focused on generating media on U.S. poverty, using tomorrow’s U.S. Census 2011 poverty data release. With the media intensely focused on the upcoming election, the Census data is great opportunity to make poverty a part of the discussion. As discussed on last Saturday’s RESULTS National Conference Call, media advocacy — especially op-eds and editorials — can be influential and force members of Congress and political candidates to pay attention. We certainly encourage you to submit an op-ed and/or pitch an editorial this month, which you can read more about in our Ten Minute and Twenty Minute sections below. However, if you are pressed for time, we urge you to send in a letter to the editor highlighting the poverty data and the need to protect poverty-reduction programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC).

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send a letter to the editor urging leaders to pay attention to poverty in the U.S. Use our online LTE action to send your letter to you local newspaper. Please note that RESULTS will update the draft letter online after the Census data is released tomorrow. Also, if you were not on the RESULTS National Conference Call last Saturday, you can listen to a recording of the call on the RESULTS website. You can also download our Conference Call PPT slides which provides helpful information covered on the call.


Got Ten Minutes? Draft an Op-ed about New Poverty Data (September Action)

This is an important week in the anti-poverty advocacy community. The U.S. Census’ annual poverty data report will be released tomorrow. This is one of the few times during the year (and maybe the only time) when the media actually pays attention to poverty in America. RESULTS and our allies certainly want to take advantage of this opportunity. That’s why our September Action is focused on generating media around the release and using the data to demand that Congress do more to combat poverty in America.

In our Two Minute section above, we provide a link to send a quick letter to the editor about the poverty report. However, in addition to sending letters, we urge you group to also focus on submitting op-eds and editorials to your local paper. This poverty data release is an opportunity we want to make the most of and by submitting op-eds and editorials, you amplify your voice and draw closer attention to poverty in the U.S.

In submitting your op-ed (we discuss editorials in the Twenty Minute section below), you not only want to highlight the poverty data when it is released tomorrow, you also want to highlight the importance of protecting poverty-reduction programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). On last Saturday’s RESULTS National Conference Call, Debbie Weinstein of the Coalition on Human Needs reminded that some of the data to be released may include how programs like the EITC and CTC impacted poverty. It is important to include this information in your piece as proof that these programs are working. With many in Congress working to cut anti-poverty programs to reduce budget deficits, people need to be reminded that these programs work and cutting them only makes the problem worse. CHN also provided us some effective messages to use in our media pieces, which were also highlighted on the conference call. You can see them by downloading our PowerPoint slides from the call.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to start drafting an op-ed about poverty in America. The September Action sheet has helpful talking points you can use, as well as a sample letter you can use as a starting point for your op-ed. The Action sheet also has helpful tips in drafting your op-ed. RESULTS will have a press release and provide a summary of the poverty data later this week so that you can incorporate the data into your op-ed. And don’t forget about our Media Training Call tomorrow night at 9:00 pm ET which will provide important tips and allow you to ask questions about generating media this month. To participate, dial (866) 503-7713, passcode 4091413579.

We sincerely thank Debbie Weinstein for being our guest speaker on this month’s conference call. Debbie is always an informative and inspirational speaker and we appreciate all the wonderful work she and CHN do on behalf of low-income individuals and families.


Got Twenty Minutes? Urge Your Local Editorial Writer to Write an Editorial on Poverty in America (September Action)

Many of you have been successful getting letters to the editor and op-eds in your local papers, so why should we focus on editorials? Your letters to the editors and op-eds have obvious impact in shaping policy. But, when an entire newspaper takes a stance on an issue, it can have profound impact. When a newspaper feels so strongly about an issue that they take a public stance, it’s almost as if the entire community supports that issue, making it hard for the member of Congress to ignore it.

This month, we’d like many of you to start to build relationships with the staff members that write editorials in your local papers, and hopefully we’ll get a few editorials printed around the country. Working with the media is very much like working with members of Congress and their staff. First, let’s start by assuming the best of journalists. Like many of us, their days at work are very busy, so if you get a voicemail or they seem rushed on the phone, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested in you or the issue you want to pitch to them. We also have to acknowledge that every journalist won’t write on every issue that we pitch them. Still, we can’t feel rejected or intimidated. Just like lobbying your member of Congress, you must be passionate and persistent while remaining respectful. When we get a no, we keep trying knowing that in some cases we’ll get a hit and in others we’ll strike out.

The key is taking that very first step. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • If you don’t know who the editorial writer is you need to contact, call the paper, ask for the editorial desk and ask for the name, phone number, and e-mail of the person who writes about issues of poverty. You can find contact info for local media outlets on the RESULTS Media page.
  • Before you call, send an e-mail to the writer with information and data you plan to discuss and a brief note that you’ll be calling later that day. This gives writer the chance to refer to the information you’ll discuss. If also gives him/her a heads up who you are. After a few hours, call the writer.
  • Have your information handy. Have your talking points as well as the data you plan to discuss organized and available for you when you call the editorial writer. Be sure to have the sources of the information as well. Writers will ask questions so you’ll want to have info available if you need it (and remember, if you don’t know the answer, simply say “I don’t know” and offer to follow up after researching the question).

We know that “pitching” an editorial can be intimidating. However, think of the first time you talked to a member of Congress or their staff. You probably had the same feeling but once it was done, you realized that most of your worry was unfounded. The same goes for writers. They are people just trying to do a job like everyone else and part of that job is to report and write about issues readers care about. You are helping them do their job by providing credible information about poverty and the impact on your community. Take your media advocacy to the next level—call your local editorial writer and make your pitch!

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to take September Action by contacting an editorial writer to urge him/her to write a piece about poverty in the U.S. RESULTS is here to help you. Here are just a few of the resources we have available for you:

  • RESULTS Staff. Please call or e-mail our U.S. Poverty staff for questions and coaching; we’re happy role plays of a call, give you messaging tips, or answer questions about the Census data. We are here to help.
  • RESULTS Media Training Call Tomorrow. Be sure to dial into the RESULTS Media Training Call tomorrow, September 12 at 9:00pm ET. RESULTS staff will overview the new poverty data and provide training on how to generate media on it. To participate, dial (866) 503-7713, passcode 4091413579.
  • Conference Call Materials. The September National Conference Call PPT slides provides helpful information about the poverty data and generating editorials. Thanks to RESULTS Communication Director Blair Hinderliter for his helpful insights on the call. You can also listen to Blair’s presentation and thoughts from guest speaker Debbie Weinstein by listening to a recording of the call on the RESULTS website.
  • Laser Talk. Our newest Laser Talk is a sample conversation with an editorial writer urging him or her to write about U.S. poverty. Note: we will update the Laser Talk after the data is released tomorrow.
  • Activist Toolkit. Our Media milestones of our Activist Toolkit provides a step-by-step guide on pitching an editorial, as well as writing op-eds and letters to the editor.

Once you are successful is getting your piece published, please be sure to let us know. We want to celebrate your victory.


Join RESULTS Media Training Call Tomorrow Night at 9 pm ET

To provide you the support you need in taking the September Action, the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Team is holding a Media Training Call tomorrow night, September 12 at 9:00 pm ET. Joining the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Team will be RESULTS Communication Director Blair Hinderliter and media consultant Jove Oliver. On the call, we’ll review some of the 2011 poverty data released by the U.S. Census and how best you can leverage this information to get media coverage on poverty in America. This will be an informative and helpful call. We hope you will join us. To participate, dial (866) 503-7713, passcode 4091413579.


CHN Letter Sign-on Deadline Extended — Is Your Local RESULTS Group on the List?

You still have time to sign your local RESULTS group on to the Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) letter urging members of Congress to protect anti-poverty programs from proposed budget cuts. The deadline to sign has been extended to September 19. We are urging all local RESULTS groups to sign onto the letter as a show of strength with other groups around the country. The letter will be sent to Congress after the deadline. Here are the RESULTS groups who have signed on so far: RESULTS Asheville, RESULTS Boise, RESULTS Boston, RESULTS Buffalo, RESULTS Columbus, RESULTS Des Moines, RESULTS DC, RESULTS Kitsap (WA), RESULTS Los Angeles, RESULTS Louisville, RESULTS New Jersey, RESULTS St. Louis, RESULTS Santa Fe, and RESULTS South Central Pennsylvania.

TAKE ACTION: If your RESULTS group is not on the above list, please take 30 seconds and sign onto the letter TODAY. After filling out your contact information, sign the letter as “RESULTS Buffalo” or “RESULTS Santa Fe”, click “Authorized” when asked if you have authorization to sign on, and list your group as a “State/Local” group. Be sure to send this out to other allies and groups in your community and urge them to sign on as well.

Please note: Because this is a group sign-on letter, individuals are not permitted to sign on (sorry Free Agents!)


Congress Back in DC — What Will Happen to SNAP?

Congress returns to Washington this week. In addition to enacting a “continuing resolution” for the outstanding appropriations bills (see Quick News for more details), Congress must also deal with the expiring Farm Bill which expires on September 30. Most expect a short-term extension either until after the election or into early 2013. Regardless of when they take up the Farm Bill, the fact still remains that Congress wants to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps). As you know, the Senate passed Farm Bill includes $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP and House leaders want to quadruple that number.

Yet the data shows that SNAP is more important than ever. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), reported last week that SNAP participation went up in June 2012, totaling 46.6 million people. Also, new data shows that household food insecurity is also on the rise, reaching nearly 15 percent for all persons and over 22 percent for children. With these trends, it should be no surprise that Americans overwhelmingly oppose cutting nutrition programs to reduce the deficit. In new polling data from FRAC, 75 percent of those polled believe cutting food assistance is the wrong way to reduce spending. That is why RESULTS and our allies strongly support the Sense of the House Resolution introduced over the summer urging House members to oppose cuts to SNAP. You can see a current list of co-signers on the FRAC website.

TAKE ACTION: Urge House members to support the Sense of the House Resolution, H.Res. 760 (full text), opposing cuts to SNAP. Call or write your House members and tell them to sign onto H.Res. 760 as a co-sponsor. House offices should contact Keith Stern at Rep. Jim McGovern's office at [email protected] to join as a sponsor. If you can’t make a call or your representative is already a co-sponsor, use our online email alert to tell Congress to protect SNAP from reckless budget cuts.


RESULTS Outreach Update

Our efforts in New England to start U.S. Poverty groups are beginning to gather good steam! Our first two groups are starting in Massachusetts. The Boston group will be having its second new group training meeting on September 17. We’ll also be holding a Group Start meeting in western Massachusetts on September 30. See details about each meeting in our Activity Calendar below. Great people involved in both groups, and it’s been such a thrill to watch amazing people come together and commit to RESULTS.

We’re also looking to do outreach in Maine. RESULTS New England Organizer Jenny Martin and Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson will be doing meetings in Maine in early October. If you know people or organizations Jenny and Meredith should connect with in Maine, please contact Jenny at [email protected].

Finally, RESULTS Senior Associate Jos Linn will be traveling to New Orleans on September 24 to revisit the RESULTS groups started there earlier this year. Jos will also be doing on outreach meeting with New Orleans that evening. If you know anyone in the New Orleans area, please urge them to attend the meeting which will be at Tulane University at 7:00 pm CT (more details in the calendar). For more information, please contact Jos at [email protected].

Thanks to everyone who has reached out to friends and family in New England and other areas. We welcome any leads you send us helping us grow RESULTS so please keep it up!


Quick News

Help Shape the Presidential Debates with Every Child Matters Tool. Our friends at Every Child Matters (ECM) are using the upcoming presidential debates to raise awareness of children’s issues. The debates will be held on October 3, 11, 16, and 22. ECM is urging people to contact the debate moderators asking them to ask questions specifically related to the welfare of children. The ECM website has sample questions and contact information for each moderator. Take a few minutes to submit your questions concerning children and poverty and help shape the presidential debate.

Congress to Pass CR While in DC this Month. Congressional leaders and President Obama are working on a Continuing Resolution to fund annually-appropriated programs including Head Start, Early Head Start, and Child Care until March 2013, beyond the Lame Duck session. This package is expected to pass this month and will fit within the spending caps included in the Budget Control Act (rather than the Ryan Budget). You can use RESULTS’ online alert to urge Congress to protect and strengthen Head Start and child care for millions of low-income children in 2013. And, if you’d like to learn more, RESULTS’ allies CLASP, NWLC, and NAEYC are organizing a conference call on Thursday, September 20, at 3:00 pm ET to review the latest on federal developments that will impact early education programs and funding. You can register online for the call.

President Clinton Brings Much-Needed Attention to House Medicaid Cuts. During last week’s Democratic National Convention, former President Bill Clinton made a speech where he talked about the drastic cuts to Medicaid proposed by the House. He pointed out that much of the spending in Medicaid goes to low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and children. In a sobering moment, he said “let’s think about it, if [the cuts] happen, I don’t know what those families are going to do.” We are pleased the President Clinton’s speech has brought much-needed attention the proposed Medicaid cuts and their impact on families. Do your part by urging Congress to protect Medicaid using our online email alert.


Announcements

Submit Your Face-to-Face Requests. Congress is expected to go on recess again on September 21 until after the election. After that, Congress will be working furiously to get many things done in the Lame Duck session, including what to do about the expiring EITC and CTC improvements. Meeting with them this fall will be vital in making sure our message sticks with them through the election and beyond. Take a few minutes to put in your request for face-to-face meetings with your representative and senators this fall. You can find a sample request in the August Action sheet. We also have an online request form you can use. Be sure to follow up within a few days to confirm that your request was received and the status of it. Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff to help you plan your agenda and devise the best messaging to use in your meeting.

Fill Out the Conference and Strategic Plan Evaluation. We need your feedback on the recent RESULTS International Conference as well as our new strategic plan to expand RESULTS’ reach and impact. Please take a few minutes to fill out our conference evaluation form. Your input is important to us.


Fundraising News

Congratulations to the Detroit group for securing Marianne Williamson as a speaker for their fundraising event on October 19. We know she has a wonderful relationship with this group and we appreciate value of friendships in making this special event a reality. We also appreciate the efforts of Asheville, Austin, Houston and other groups moving forward with October and November fundraising plans, too!

For a listing of the many cities hosting September fundraising events, please visit our Fall Fundraiser Blog and share the word about these great upcoming events.

Also, please join our "RESULTS Fundraisers" Facebook group for periodic fundraising suggestions and engage in conversation with other RESULTS fundraisers.


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: September 21 – November 12. Request face-to-face meetings.

Wednesday, September 12: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Media Training call, 9:00 pm ET. (866) 503-7713, passcode 4091413579.

Monday, September 17: RESULTS Boston Training meeting, 6:00 pm ET. Contact Jenny Martin at [email protected] for more details.

Tuesday, September 18: RESULTS Free Agents group (U.S. Poverty) call, 9:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS# (7378587#). For more information, contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

Friday, September 21: RESULTS Introductory Call. 1:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP for the call.

Monday, September 24: RESULTS New Orleans Outreach Meeting, Time TBA (in the evening). 201 Boggs, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA. Contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for more details.

Sunday, September 30: RESULTS Western MA Group Start Meeting, 1:00 pm ET. United Methodist Church, 25 Church Street, Greenfield, MA. Contact Jenny Martin at [email protected] for more details.

Tuesday, November 6: Election Day.


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.