January 2014 U.S. Poverty Action

January 7, 2014

Set Goals for 2014 and Get Started with Face-to-Face Lobby Meetings

This month, RESULTS groups and Free Agents will focus primarily on meeting to create a 2014 plan and set goals for their work for the year. This is such a critical process that we will walk through the process on our January national conference call (Saturday, January 11, at 12:30 pm ET: (888) 409-6709). RESULTS strategic plan has a focus on expanding our reach and impact, and our volunteer Regional Coordinators have embraced these grassroots goals for 2014 – keep these goals in mind as you complete your group plan:

  • Increase congressional coverage: Add 20 new districts from existing global groups, 10 new districts from existing U.S. poverty groups. In total reach 260 districts and 46 states, including 37 states and 132 House Districts covered by RESULTS U.S. poverty volunteers.
  • Retain all existing groups through group strengthening and leadership development.
  • Meet with 100 percent of representatives and at least one-third of senators that RESULTS grassroots network covers.
  • Generate at least one editorial or oped in each state where we have volunteers.

Then, as you work to lay out your goals for the year, set yourselves up for success by requesting face-to-face meetings with your members of Congress this month.

Start 2014 off Right by Setting Goals for Yourself and Your Group

  1. Review the group planning materials: https://results.org/skills_center/group_resources_and_admin/.
  2. On your own, fill out the Individual Planning Form, which will make sure you capitalize on and build your skills while you take on new and exciting challenges. Consider what leadership positions you want to take on within RESULTS. If you cannot make the January 11 national conference call meeting, we strongly urge you fill this form out and send it to your group leader before Saturday.
  3. As a group, use the Group Plan Summary to help complete your plan. Consider ways your will work together to strengthen your RESULTS group. This includes setting up group meeting dates and times (we strongly urge you to meet two times per month!), how you can maximize your presence at the 2014 International Conference (June 20-24), and how you’ll recruit and mentor new activists and develop leadership in your group.
  4. Create an outreach and fundraising plan to recruit new activists and donors, and educate your community in 2014. Schedule and set goals for fundraiser(s), outreach events, and your coalition work locally. Also consider how your group might participate in expanding our congressional coverage.
  5. Formulate a strategy to build your relationship with your senators and representative(s). This includes deciding who will be the primary point of contact for your group, identifying where they are on the Champion Scale and specific actions you can take to move them forward, including a plan to meet face-to-face with them back home. Then, in the next two weeks:
    • Decide who will contact the scheduler for each member of Congress this month – you can find contact details on the RESULTS website.
    • Use our online template to create a request letter – most offices will ask for details in writing.
    • If the member of Congress has no time to meet this month, ask to schedule a meeting the next time he/she is back home and if he/she is holding any upcoming town hall meetings.
    • Once you confirm a meeting, please contact RESULTS Director of US Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) for coaching, materials and tailored requests for your meeting.
  6. Set goals for your work with the media. Discuss how you can network with the editorial board of your local newspaper on editorials and op-eds, perhaps with different members taking on different media outlets.
  7. Circulate your completed group plan to all those in your group and send it in to RESULTS U.S. Poverty Grassroots Manager Jos Linn. Be sure to review this plan at least quarterly.

2014 Roadmap Uncertain, but Getting Face-to-Face with Members of Congress Will Start the Year off Right

Because Congress has yet again procrastinated on its agenda, we are still in the process of identifying our campaign priorities for 2014 – which will then be submitted for approval to the Executive Committee of the RESULTS Board of Directors.  Some of the ideas we are exploring strategies are:

  • Addressing the “cliff effect” (as families move up the income ladder they rapidly lose supports such as child care and SNAP)
  • Addressing wealth inequality with asset building
  • Looking at a comprehensive campaign to address the needs of very young children
  • Exploring state-based efforts to address poverty
  • Supporting policies to support social business development, and
  • Engaging local experts – those with firsthand experience of poverty

There is a lot of interest in aligning our U.S. poverty campaign work with the broader goal of ending extreme poverty in the world by 2030. Thank you to those who participated on our December 18 webinar overview of possible 2014 U.S. Poverty Campaigns – for those who missed it, you can view the slides at: http://fuze.me/22230495.

In the short term, we continue to urge Congress to work to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) in the final Farm Bill. Face-to-face meetings in the next few weeks can give us a great opportunity to do just that. Key House and Senate negotiators have tentatively reached a deal on the nutrition portion of the Farm Bill that would cut $8.6 billion in cuts to SNAP over ten years. The cut would amount to an average loss of $90 per month in SNAP benefits for approximately 850,000 low-income households in 15 states. Fortunately, because of your strong advocacy work in coordination with our allies, several egregious provisions passed by the House of Representatives will not be considered. These discussions to cut SNAP are coming on the heels of an $11 billion across-the-board cut to SNAP benefits for all program participants that went into effect on November 1.

The formal Farm Bill conference committee may meet again as soon as January 9 to finalize the agreement. Because negotiations are still taking place, we still have the opportunity to shape the final Farm Bill and meeting face-to-face with policymakers is a key strategy. Once the formal conference committee process is complete, then the package would need to be approved by both the House and Senate and signed into law by President Obama. As we know, SNAP and other anti-poverty programs make a difference – according to new Census Bureau data (see below), SNAP kept 5 million Americans out of poverty in 2012.

To protect SNAP in the short term and end poverty by 2030, the most effective strategy to influence policymakers is face-to-face visits between local constituents and members of Congress. As most of you know, the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) asked congressional staff what kinds of contact make the biggest impact on members of Congress, especially when they have not made up their mind on an issue. Respondents overwhelmingly said that in-person visits from constituents made the biggest difference; 97 percent for visits to DC offices and 94 percent for visits to district offices – more influential than paid lobbyists! This is why it is critically important to create a powerful plan for 2014 and begin work to secure in-district lobby meetings this month.

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