Policy debates about poverty rarely include the voices of those who have actually experienced it. The Experts on Poverty come together to advocate directly with members of Congress, publish media, and mobilize their communities to push for change. With their powerful platform, the Experts influence policy on Capitol Hill while also challenging harmful misconceptions about people who live in poverty.
Who are the Experts on Poverty?
The Experts are a diverse team of advocates from all across the country. They use their firsthand experience of poverty to push for more effective government policies to support low-income Americans. All of the Experts have personal experience with SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), tax credits, or other federal “safety net” programs that help millions of Americans make ends meet.
In 2009, I was enrolled in college, but my financial aid fell through. I suddenly owed the school just under $5,000. I was barely making it already and had to drop out. For the next few years, I worked 2-3 jobs at a time and thought a lot about how different things would be if I had the opportunity to finish school.
At tax time in 2013, I received credits that would forever change my family’s life.
“I think it’s really important for policymakers to think about the faces of these programs and the families that it impacts and to approach all legislation involving anti-poverty programs from a human level.”
“I know just how critical refundable tax credits were to my family growing up, but I also know that there are gaps in the policies that means millions of families and workers are still left out. And now today as a young adult, I’m one of them.”
“At one point in my life, I relied on government programs to provide for my family. To some people, I was just a statistic. I identify as many things, and this does not define who I am – it is just one part of my story. I am also an advocate.”
“The Experts on Poverty program is like a family, and we have support and guidance from the RESULTS team, who are equipping us with information and support to use our voices in the best possible way. The platform we have now through the Experts group is phenomenal.”
“RESULTS is the first organization that asked me to tell my story. My passions are embedded in the work of being an effective advocate. My father and grandfather initially inspired me to become an advocate, but the children of New Orleans & Baton Rouge, Louisiana are my true inspiration to stand up and effectively and innovatively provide the platform for them to do the same.”
Qiana Torregano, New Orleans
“In order for my community to become a safer and a more supportive environment, I must be the catalyst for that change. I love being able to say, ‘Congress works for me.’ I know my voice matters. It’s important to share with my elected officials and let them know that I am worth listening to and that I can make change.”
Sharvonne Williams, Indianapolis
What they do
The Experts take their experiences directly to lawmakers, speak at conferences and political events across the country, appear on the radio, and publish opinion pieces in local and national media. The Experts are part of the larger RESULTS movement of advocates using their voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty.
The Experts also attend the annual RESULTS International Conference in Washington, DC, where they lead panel discussions, speak out about their experiences, and meet directly with their representatives on Capitol Hill.
EXAMPLE: Two of RESULTS Experts on Poverty, Kali Daugherty and Pamela Covington, led an all-conference storytelling workshop for the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual policy forum, which had over 1000 people registered. They shared their personal experiences with poverty and led workshop attendees in crafting their own story for change.
Why it matters
In the United States today, one in seven people live in poverty. That is staggering, but the number would be twice as high without federal anti-poverty programs. Yet, too often, these programs come under political threat. When making decisions about funding and policy, lawmakers rarely seek the opinion of those who understand the reality of poverty.
By raising their voices and engaging lawmakers and their communities, the Experts on Poverty demonstrate why these crucial programs must be strengthened instead of diminished. In the process, they bridge the divide between those who make policy and those who are most impacted by it.