U.S. Poverty Weekly Update August 4, 2015

August 4, 2015

U.S. Poverty Campaigns

Weekly Update | August 4, 2015

"We hope that our elected representatives in Congress will support U.S. programs like SNAP and tax credits for working families so that vulnerable children everywhere are being fed.”

– 11-year-old RESULTS St. Louis volunteer Yara Levin in a July 30 letter to the editor in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In This Week’s Update:

Quick Action: Urge Congress to Protect Working Families

Take Action!

Got Two Minutes? Prepare for August 11 U.S. Poverty National Meeting (not this Saturday)

The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Monthly National Meeting is moving for August – the webinar/conference call will be held next Tuesday, August 11 at 8:00 pm ET (not the normal second Saturday of the month date). The change is an experiment based on feedback from our grassroots survey (you can still take the survey at here). At this point, it only applies to this month’s meeting; we will let you know if this becomes a more permanent change.

We are looking forward to a great meeting next week. We will recap the recent RESULTS International Conference. It was our largest Conference to date and many consider it our best. We’ll also spend time talking about the August Action, which focuses on face-to-face encounters with members of Congress during this month’s congressional recess. We’ll also do a training on how to make the most of town hall events with lawmakers and candidates. Please plan to join this exciting meeting.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to contact your local RESULTS group about the RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Meeting next Tuesday, August 11 at 8:00 pm ET. Remind them that the call has been moved to a different day and time this month and coordinate with your group where you will meet for the meeting. We’ll use Fuze Meeting: join the meeting online at http://fuze.me/28130766 or dial in by phone at (201) 479-4595, meeting ID: 28130766#. Plan to log in or call in no later than 7:55 pm ET. If you have questions about Fuze or how to log in, please contact Jos Linn at [email protected]. The slides for Tuesday’s meeting will available early next week on the RESULTS Home Page in the “Take Action” box in the top right-hand corner.

Got Ten Minutes? Call about Meetings and Town Halls with Members of Congress (August Action)

Now is the time: while Congress is home, we must make sure they hear loud and clear to make working families their top priority! The House has gone on recess and will be out until after Labor Day. The Senate is scheduled to do the same later this week. The August recess is a critical time to meet with members of Congress back home and discuss important issues facing low-income Americans, such as the expiration of key provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Decisions made last week in DC have set up a potential fight in the fall which could include the EITC and CTC.

As discussed at the International Conference last month, congressional leaders are looking to enact a tax package, probably coupled with a deal on federal highway funding. Last week, congressional leaders passed a short-term extension of highway funding until late October, and they will return after Labor Day to iron out a multi-year tax and highway deal. While many are pushing for a short-term extension of expiring business tax credits (“tax extenders”) to be coupled with highway funding, we expect some to push making certain business tax breaks permanent. If Congress proposes to permanently extend any of these business credits this year, we MUST push to save the key EITC and CTC provisions that help millions of hard-working families make ends meet.

This is why your advocacy with lawmakers this month is so important. Your members of Congress need to hear about the EITC and CTC improvements as much as possible over the next few months. They need to know that any permanent extension of tax credits for business must include a permanent extension of the EITC and CTC provisions. In other words, if Congress is determined to take care of business interests, they must also take care of America’s working families. Now is the time to send that message.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to contact your House and Senate schedulers about setting up face-to-face meetings with your members of Congress this month if you haven’t already. You’ll also want to ask them about town halls and other public events they are holding this month. August is a popular time for these events. Be sure to find out if any candidates will be holding events this month in your area and plan to attend those as well. The July Action has resources to help with setting up face-to-face meetings and the August Action has resources to help with town halls events. You can find scheduler names and contact information on our Elected Officials page and plenty of lobbying resources on our Conference Resources page (including our latest EITC/CTC Lobby Request Sheet). When you do schedule a meeting or plan to attend a town hall, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) ASAP for assistance in getting ready. Finally, once you’ve completed your meeting or town hall event, be sure to let us know how it went by filling out the RESULTS Lobby Report Form.

Got Twenty Minutes? Start Preparing for Meetings and Town Halls with Your Own EPIC Laser Talk

We all know that scheduling a meeting or finding town halls with your members of Congress can sometimes be a chore. You have to make repeated contacts with their offices to ask for time with them, but eventually your persistence pays off and you get a meeting and find a town hall in your area. Then what? Getting the meeting is only the first step; next you have to know what to say when you get there. Have no fear. RESULTS has just the thing to help you – the EPIC Laser Talk. RESULTS developed the EPIC Laser Talk decades ago and it is still the one of the foundations of our advocacy work. It allows you to take key facts and experiences and craft them into a powerful, concise call to action for lawmakers and candidates. The formula is simple:

E: ENGAGE the listener in the conversation with a moving fact, a short anecdote, or a simple thank you.

Example: The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) help hardworking families make ends meet; they lifted 9.4 million people out of poverty in 2013, including 5 million children.

P: State the PROBLEM you are asking them to fix using short, specific language.

Example: Despite the success of these pro-work tax credits, 16 million Americans, including 7.7 million children, could fall into or deeper into poverty if Congress does not save key EITC and CTC provisions.

I: INFORM or ILLUSTRATE the solution to the problem.

Example: Let me tell you my story/a story about the impact of these tax policies [share personal story here]… OR… The EITC and CTC promote work and help working families escape poverty, while making a big impact on the lives of children. Studies show that children in EITC families are healthier, do better in school, and earn more income as adults. Because of this success, these tax credits have long had bipartisan support, from Presidents Reagan and Clinton to House Ways and Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan.

C: Make a CALL TO ACTION that is specific and is in the form of a Yes or No question.

Example: Will you personally speak to House Ways and Means Leaders/Senate Finance Committee leaders urging them to make saving the EITC and CTC provisions their top tax priority this year?

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to draft your own EPIC Laser Talk for your meetings and town halls this month. The August Action has a sample Laser Talk to help you get started, along with tips on how to best use it in town halls settings. In addition, here are resources to help make your laser talk more personal and powerful:

Find more resources on our Conference Resources page. If you have questions or need help with drafting your EPIC Laser Talk, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) or Meredith Dodson ([email protected]).

Quick News

2015 Kids Count Data Released. Last week, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released its annual Kids Count Data Book. The book tracks child well-being in the U.S. using 16 separate indicators to rank states on “overall child well-being and in economic well-being, education, health and family and community.” As pointed out by our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs, child well-being in the U.S. still has a long way to go: the data shows that 1.7 million more children were living in low-income families in 2013 than in 2008. Learn more on the Annie E. Casey website.

Child Nutrition Update. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) are working together to draft a new Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill (the current CNR law expires on September 30). A markup on bipartisan CNR legislation will be held on September 17. Sen. Roberts said he is working with Sen. Stabenow and other members of the committee “to craft a reauthorization package that increases efficiency, effectiveness, flexibility and integrity.” One of the issues needing attention is that of eligibility. Afterschool, summer, and child care food programs use an overly restrictive eligibility test, defining a low-income area as one where over 50 percent of children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. The Summer Meals Act of 2015 proposes to lower the eligibility test from 50 percent to 40 percent. The Food Research and Action Center has prepared maps to show what areas in each state would become eligible for federal summer meals reimbursements under this new legislation. RESULTS will keep an eye on these and other CNR developments over the next few months. For more information on child nutrition programs, current legislation, and the upcoming reauthorization, check out our Child Nutrition page.

Geography of Poverty on the Road. MSNBC’s “Geography of Poverty” project has moved through the Southwest and continued into the South. Writer Trymaine Lee vividly portrays life in Brownsville, Texas, minutes from the Mexican border. The poverty rate there is around 36 percent, and in Cameron Country where Brownsville is situated, nearly 47 percent of children live in poverty. Lee describes the intersection of bad immigration and economic policy that has resulted in decades of widespread unemployment, income inequality, health and educational disparities, and hunger in the region. Terri Drefke, CEO of the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, notes that 1 in 2 children in the region are food insecure. Photographer Matt Black, Lee’s partner in the project, captured powerful images from low-income communities in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, which can be seen on his Instagram feed. There are also online resources to see the poverty profile of where you live. See our RESULTS Blog post about this resource and continue to follow the journey online.

Thank you Tade, Savannah, and Susan

It is with excitement and sadness that we say goodbye to three invaluable persons who have spent the last few months at RESULTS. Tade Mengesha has been our Emerson Hunger Fellow since March. She has been a great asset in our U.S. Poverty work over that time, keeping us up-to-date on tax issues and the wealth gap, creating resources for our website and the International Conference, and working to engage new people to join RESULTS. She also managed our ‘Experts on Poverty” session at this year’s Conference. When her Fellowship officially ends this month, Tade will be moving to Chicago to start graduate school.

Savannah Gross joined us in June as part of the United Methodist Church’s Young Leaders program. Since then, she has been a tremendous help in creating materials for our U.S. Poverty Campaigns, our website, and the International Conference. She also participated in lobby meetings on behalf of RESULTS before and during the Conference. Savannah will be returning to Atlanta this fall for her final year at Emory University.

Finally, Susan Fleurant joined RESULTS as an intern in June. Susan has also been a valuable resource on our U.S. Poverty Campaigns, helping update our website and prepare for the International Conference. She has also helped with recent Action Sheets and Weekly Updates, and participated in lobby meetings before and during the Conference. Susan will be returning to Maine this fall for her final year at Colby College. Fortunately, she will be participating in our REAL Change Fellowship and working to organize people in her community on our issues.

We are deeply grateful for the time, energy, and commitment Tade, Savannah, and Susan have given us over the last few months. We are excited for the bright future ahead of them, wish them the best of luck in school, and look forward to working with them moving forward.

Upcoming Events

Go to the RESULTS Events Calendar to see a full list of RESULTS events.

Next Congressional Recesses: House: July 31 – September 7; Senate: August 8 – September 7. Request face-to-face meetings.

RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Meeting, August 11 at 8:00 pm ET. Join the meeting online at http://fuze.me/28130766 or dial in by phone at (201) 479-4595, meeting ID: 28130766#. Listen to previous conference calls and meetings on our National Conference Calls page.

RESULTS Introductory Call, August 12 at 9:00 pm ET. If you want to learn more about RESULTS, register for an upcoming Intro Call on the RESULTS website.

RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, August 18 at 1:00 pm and 8:00 pm ET. Join online at: http://fuze.me/27491886; or by phone at (201) 479-4595 and enter Meeting ID: 27491886. For more information, contact Jos Linn ([email protected]).

Find a list of the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff with contact information on the RESULTS website.

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