U.S. Poverty Weekly Update February 11, 2014

February 11, 2014

Media advocacy is vital to building political will by informing elected officials about the issues and what constituents are thinking.

— RESULTS Cedar Rapids volunteer Sally Spielman in a February 21 letter to the editor in the Cedar Rapids Gazette

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Got Two Minutes? Contact Media Outlets about How Best to Submit Your Op-ed (February Action)

This month, RESULTS U.S. Poverty volunteers are working to get op-eds published about poverty and economic mobility (see more below). The first step in getting an op-ed published is not necessarily writing it. As guest speaker Margot Friedman discussed on last Saturday’s national conference call, before writing your op-ed it is good to do some research on how and to whom to submit your piece. For example, a local, traditional paper might prefer a more formal opinion piece while a blog might be looking for something a little edgier. This research also helps you conform to that media outlet’s parameters for submitting an op-ed (length requirements, submission method, etc.). Knowing what the media outlet prefers before you begin writing will help you craft an op-ed that is more likely to get published.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to research the media outlets you and your group plan to submit op-eds. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Go to the media outlet website to find out the submission requirements. You can find a list of media outlets and contact information in the RESULTS Media Guide.
  2. If you have a relationship with a writer at a particular paper or blog, contact that person to ask what they look for when publishing op-eds. If you don’t know anyone, contact the editorial page editor to ask.
  3. Read previous pieces published in the paper or blog to get a sense of what kind of opinion pieces they publish.

Once you’ve done your research, use this information to draft your op-ed in a way that will maximize your chances of getting published. For more information on drafting your op-ed, see the Got Ten Minutes and Got Twenty Minutes sections below. In addition, listen to the recording of our February 2014 U.S. Poverty Conference Call to get all the helpful information Margot provided. You can listen to the recording and download the slides and summary of the call on our National Conference Calls page.

Got Ten Minutes? Personalize Your Op-ed – Ask “Why Now?” (February Action)

Once you’ve researched how best to submit your op-ed this month, it’s important to start your piece off right. As Saturday’s conference call guest Margot Friedman outlined, it is important for you to ask the question “Why now?” before you begin writing. This means making your piece relevant and contemporary. In the February Action, we suggest using the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty as a “hook” for starting off your piece. The anniversary has gotten a lot of coverage the last few weeks and papers might be interested in an op-ed linking that to new efforts to end poverty. But that’s only one example. If another event, story, or local angle would serve as a better hook, use it.

Another way to make your piece relevant is to make it personal. Papers love stories of how issues are impacting people in their community. If you have a personal experience with poverty in the U.S. (perhaps you received benefits at one time or know someone who did, perhaps you remember the War on Poverty when it began, etc.), include that in your op-ed. Facts and statistics are important and you should include them, but stories give your piece life. Stories help people “see” and “feel” the issue.

Finding the right “hook” or lead can be the difference between a written op-ed and a published op-ed.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to find your op-ed “hook” and personalize your piece. Read the paper, peruse the internet, and watch the news to see what you feel might make a good way to make your op-ed timely. It could be the anniversary of the War on Poverty, a new piece of legislation, a statement by a lawmaker or prominent person about poverty, a cultural event (new movie or book). The hook can also be your personal story – how your experience relates to the issue your writing about. The February Action has talking points and background information to get you started. If you are drawing a blank, we even included a sample op-ed in the you can use as a template, but again make it your own. As always, the U.S. Poverty Staff are here to help you. Please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) or Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) for help.

Thank you to Margot Friedman of Dupont Circle Communications for speaking on our conference call this month. Her advice and insights on this month’s media action is invaluable. You can listen to a recording of the call and download the slides and summary of the call on our National Conference Calls page.

Got Twenty Minutes? Draft and Submit Your Op-eds This Month (February Action)

Our goal this month is to get fifteen op-eds published. On Saturday’s conference call, RESULTS volunteers committed to submitting 73 pieces in February 15 out of 73 – piece of cake! You – our RESULTS volunteers – have proven to be quite adept at getting media published. Last year, you got over 140 letters, op-eds, editorial, and articles placed in media outlets nationwide. That media advocacy helped you protect SNAP from deep cuts in the Farm Bill. Now let’s do it again.

Now that our work on SNAP and the Farm Bill is done, we’re moving onto our 2014 U.S. Poverty Campaign. Details about the campaign will be available later this month (we must first get final approval from the RESULTS Board) but we know the theme is expanding economic mobility. This means putting the tools in place for families to earn what they need, stay on their feet, and save for the future. The first step in doing that is raising awareness and the media is an excellent way to do that. Here are some resources to help you raise awareness through op-eds this month:

  1. The February Action provides you talking points, background information, and a sample op-ed.
  2. Conference call guest speaker Margot Friedman gave us invaluable advice on how to draft a powerful op-ed and how to increase your chances of getting published. You can listen to a recording of the call and download a copy of the call summary on the RESULTS website.
  3. The conference call slides provide information about this month’s action, including our new War on Poverty Quiz. The quiz includes helpful facts about poverty in America you can use in your op-ed. You can download the quiz by itself on our Outreach Actions page.
  4. Our friends at Half in Ten and the Coalition on Human Needs have helpful resources about the War on Poverty and its legacy.
  5. The RESULTS Media Support Team meets each month to support you in generating media on our U.S. poverty and global poverty issues. This month, RESULTS Deputy Director of Communications Colin Smith will be our featured speaker on the call to help with our February op-ed push. This call is next Tuesday, February 18 at 8:00 pm ET. To join, dial (712) 775-7300, passcode 954747#. If you have questions, please contact Ginnie Vogts at [email protected].

We encourage you to use these resources as you draft your op-eds. The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Staff is also here to help you brainstorm ideas, find statistics, edit your op-ed, and coach you on submitting them. Also, Margot Friedman is available to answer questions about op-ed writing on her Facebook page “Op-ed Talk with Margot.”

As Congress works to formulate a legislative agenda for the year, shape the conversation by getting your op-ed published this month about lifting and keeping people out of poverty.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to draft an op-ed about our need to expand economic mobility in America. Tell readers that when families can earn what they need, stay on their feet, and save for the future, we all succeed. We urge each member of your local RESULTS group to submit an op-ed. This will increase your chances of getting published and help us meet (and hopefully exceed) our goal of getting 15 op-eds published this month.

When it comes time to submit your piece, be strategic. Don’t have everyone in your group submit it to the same media outlet. Instead, have one person try the major paper in your area (e.g. the media point person for your group) and then look to other papers in your state, weekly papers, alternative papers, radio and TV, local or national blogs, and even national papers like USA Today, The New York Times, or The Washington Post for the other members of your group. By expanding your targets, you get the message to a wider audience. Good luck!

Call Senators TODAY to Protect the Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is one of our most effective anti-poverty programs, lifting 1.5 million children out of poverty every year. The vast majority of families that receive the refundable CTC earn less than $25,000 per year and rely on the credit to help care for their children.

Today, the Senate is expected to vote on a proposal by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) to eliminate the Child Tax Credit for immigrant children whose hardworking parents pay taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Sen. Ayotte’s amendment could deny the refundable CTC to as many as 5 million children. Deliberately harming children in poverty is unconscionable. RESULTS signed onto a letter to senators urging them to protect the CTC.

TAKE ACTION: Call your senators toll-free at (888) 853-7037 and leave a message with the receptionist telling your senators to OPPOSE the Ayotte amendment and any changes that would deny the refundable Child Tax Credit to low-income children. For more information, read “Why Cutting the Child Tax Credit Is Bad Policy” from the National Immigration Law Center.

You can also use our online e-mail alert to tell Congress to protect and strengthen tax credits for working families.

Set Up Face-to-Face Requests for Next Week’s Recess

Members of Congress will be home on recess next week. As we move forward on our 2014 U.S. Poverty agenda on expanding economic mobility in America, take time this week to contact your House and Senate offices about setting up face-to-face meetings during the recess. This is the time when Congress is setting its agenda for the year, making it a perfect time for us to raise new issues with them about how we can build ladders out of poverty. Face-to-face meetings are still the most effective way to influence members of Congress, especially when they have not made up their mind on an issue. Don’t let this opportunity pass you buy – set up your meetings today!

TAKE ACTION: If you have not submitted a face-to-face request, please do so today. If you have, follow up with your House and Senate schedulers to check on the status of your request. If you are part of a RESULTS group, the point persons for each member of Congress should handle this. You can find scheduler names and contact information on our Elected Officials page. See our updated meeting request form to print off letters to each of your congressional offices (please customize your letters before printing). If you cannot get a meeting next week, ask to be put on his/her schedule at the earliest possible opportunity. Also, ask the scheduler about any town halls or public events your representative or senators might be having next week and plan to attend.

Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact RESULTS Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) to help your with personalized coaching for your member of Congress and materials to take with you.

Register for the 2014 RESULTS International Conference!

Our 2014 International Conference is being held June 21-24 in Washington, DC and will be our largest conference yet! We already have amazing speakers confirmed, including the President of the World Bank Jim Kim, Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund Marian Wright Edelman, David Bornstein of The New York Times, and Michael Gerson of The Washington Post.

Our conference is an opportunity for you to hear from world-class speakers, get the most up-to-date legislative and policy information, and hone your advocacy skills in preparation for two days of citizen advocacy on Capitol Hill. At last year’s Conference, RESULTS volunteers met with over 300 House and Senate offices, as well as officials from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. We will do even more this year. The conference is an amazing opportunity to spend time with hundreds of smart, passionate, committed people — to learn from each other, strategize, get inspired, and have fun. The conference is also an opportunity to introduce new people to RESULTS and our work. We encourage each of you to invite and bring someone new to the conference — help us expand our reach and impact!

TAKE ACTION: We need your voice and your vision with us this June to bring our message of ending poverty to policymakers and the media. Please join us for the RESULTS/ RESULTS Educational Fund 2014 International Conference in June. You can register today at www.results.org/events. If you register now, you get to take advantage of the Early Bird registration fee of only $165 (expires April 6).

Also, if your 18-28 years old, please consider participating in our REAL Change Fellowship. We are looking for the next generation of young activists and leaders in fighting poverty at home and abroad. RESULTS will train and guide you to create personal relationships with policymakers in Congress, to speak powerfully, and engage with the media and your community. As part of the Fellowship, RESULTS will cover most of your International Conference expenses. If you want to become leader for the end of poverty, apply for REAL Change today.

President Signs Farm Bill – Thank Those Who Stood Up for SNAP

Last Friday, President Obama signed the Farm Bill into law at a ceremony in Michigan. This followed House passage of the bill 251-166 on January 29 and Senate passage 68-32 on February 4. RESULTS opposed the bill because it contained $8.6 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps). Even though many House and Senate members who opposed the SNAP cuts in the bill ended up voting yes, a number of them made statements and speeches during and after the debate criticizing the cuts and urging Congress to do more to address hunger in America. As we’ve mentioned the previous few weeks, RESULTS is disappointed that the final bill includes cuts to SNAP but we are also very grateful to you for your hard work in protecting SNAP. Without your advocacy, the cuts to SNAP would have been a whole lot worse.

TAKE ACTION: In addition to giving yourself a much-deserved thank you for protecting SNAP from deep cuts, be sure to thank others who helped you in your SNAP advocacy. Send an e-mail to people whom you asked to call, write, and e-mail Congress about protecting SNAP. Also, if your local paper ran an op-ed or editorial about protecting SNAP last year, contact the editor and thank him/her for their leadership and provide an update on what happened in the final bill. Thanking editors gives them deserved but often overlooked appreciation and helps you build relationships with them (which could come in handy this month as you work to get your op-eds published).

RESULTS Outreach in the Midwest; Join Upcoming Intro and Free Agents Calls

RESULTS U.S. Poverty Staff and volunteers are working to expand our reach and impact throughout the country. Here are what we are working on and how you can help.

  • Outreach in Iowa City, IA. Jos Linn will be doing a RESULTS presentation to get a new group started in Iowa City, IA on March 13 at 6:30pm CT. If you know people in near Iowa City, please contact Jos at [email protected] for more details.
  • Outreach in the Midwest. Myrdin Thompson continues to work with advocates in Kentucky and Indiana to get new groups started there. If you know people in Louisville, KY, Lexington, KY, Evansville, IN, and Indianapolis, IN, please contact Myrdin at [email protected] to get them connected to her efforts.
  • Invite Someone to the RESULTS Intro Call Tomorrow Night. If you or someone you know wants to learn more about RESULTS and how to get involved, we invite you to join on of our bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Calls. Our February calls are TOMORROW, February 12 at 9:00 pm ET and Friday, February 28 at 1:00 pm ET. To register for an upcoming call, go to https://results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.
  • Join the Free Agents Calls Next Tuesday. If you live in an area with no active RESULTS group, join our RESULTS Free Agents. Our Free Agents meet monthly via conference call to give each other support in taking action on our issues. The next RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Calls will be Tuesday, February 18 at 1 pm ET and 9 pm ET (choose whichever call is most convenient for you). The call-in number is (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096.
  • Join RESULTS Expansion Team Webinar on Feb. 26. As part of our goal to start and 10 new US poverty groups and 20 new global groups from our existing expansion network, join the RESULTS Expansion team’s February webinar on Wednesday, February 26 at 9:00 pm ET. They will discuss some of the best practices for starting new RESULTS groups and recruiting new activists. The call will focus on how to tell stories about our involvement with RESULTS and practicing how to add a sense of “urgency” based on our current campaigns. To join, go to http://fuze.me/22978863 and/or dial: (201) 479-4595, meeting number: 22978863.

Quick News

Join Minimum Wage Webinar This Thursday. This Thursday, our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs will host a webinar on raising the minimum wage. The minimum wage has only been raised three times in the last 30 years and the minimum wage for workers with earnings from tips has been stuck at the impossibly low $2.13/hour since 1991. Senator Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) are sponsoring The Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R.1010; S.460), which would increase the minimum wage over time to $10.10/hour. On the webinar, Sen. Harkin will join Christine Owens of the National Employment Law Project and moderator Ellen Teller of the Food Research and Action Center to give you the latest on the push to raise the minimum wage and what you can do to help. The webinar is Thursday, February 13 at 3:00 pm ET. Register now for informative webinar.

For updates on all our U.S. Poverty Campaigns, see our U.S. Poverty Campaigns Summary on the RESULTS website (our 2014 Campaigns Summary will be available later this month).

Fundraising Update

Join us for a RESULTS Valentine's Date Night IN! Invite your loved ones to donate to RESULTS as an expression of love for the whole world! We've created a Valentine's Date Night IN website where you can make your own fundraising page to encourage your friends and family to donate the cost of a Valentine date night out. Instead of paying for parking and an expensive restaurant, your friends and family can help feed hungry people, provide quality education, and stand up for economic justice. Or, if donors can afford both, they can match the amount they spend on the town with a gift to the most vulnerable people in the world. Remember, the funds you raise go to the costs it takes to support us with great staff, conference calls, timely research and information for us to do the great lobbying work we do!

It's easy and can be done just for today through February 14 by email or social media. The website is www.tinyurl.com/2014RESULTSLove and it only takes about 10-15 minutes to get started. Contact Cindy Levin at [email protected] if you need help.


Please Send in Your 2014 Group Plans! If you have not submitted your 2014 Group Plan Summary, please do so ASAP. We want to get all the plans in this month. You can find all the Group Planning materials on our Group Resources page. Please submit a copy of your plan to Jos Linn at [email protected].

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 and Senate: February 17-21. Request face-to-face meetings.

Wednesday, February 12: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at https://results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.

Monday, February 17: Happy Presidents’ Day! All RESULTS office closed.

Tuesday, February 18: Media Support Call, 8:00 pm ET. 712-775-7300 Passcode 954747#.

Tuesday, February 18: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Calls, 1:00pm ET and 9:00 pm ET. (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096.

Wednesday, February 26: Webinar for expanding RESULTS into new areas, 9:00 pm ET. Go to http://fuze.me/22978863 or dial: (201) 479-4595, meeting number: 22978863.

Saturday, March 8: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Saturday, June 21 – Tuesday, June 24: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. More details soon.

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.

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