U.S. Poverty Weekly Update February 18, 2014

February 18, 2014

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.

— Charles Darwin

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Got Two Minutes? Call House and Senate Schedulers about Meetings and Town Halls

Congress is home this week for the Presidents’ Day recess. This is a good opportunity to meet and speak with them on issue of U.S. poverty. Our 2014 U.S. Poverty Campaigns were approved over the weekend, which focus on expanding economic mobility. In particular, starting this month we’ll focus more on supporting low-income families to build for the future through innovative Asset Building strategies including the Financial Security Credit. In addition, we can voice our support for making sure people earn enough to meet basic needs, including protecting and expanding  the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) (see more about the EITC for childless workers below). This year we’ll also focus on the importance of supporting families as they get on their feet by investing additional resources to address the “cliff effect”, rather than allowing key supports such as child care, SNAP, EITC, and housing assistance drop off precipitously with modest increases in income. This week’s recess is a good opportunity to start building support for these important policies.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to call or e-mail the schedulers for your members of Congress to set up face-to-face meetings during this week’s recess. Also ask the schedulers about town halls or public events you can attend this week (you can check congressional websites for local events as well). Find aide names, contact info, and website links on our Elected Officials page. Be sure to put in requests for all the representatives your group covers and both senators in your state. Take a copy of our 2014 Economic Mobility Request Sheet when you go to your meeting.

Once you confirm a lobby meeting or town hall you’re attending, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) for coaching, materials, and tailored requests for your members of Congress.

Got Ten Minutes? If Using the “War on Poverty” in Your Op-Ed, Submit It This Week (February Action)

In the RESULTS February U.S. Poverty Action, we suggest using the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty as a “hook” for your op-eds this month. A hook is something that will get the attention of the newspaper editor – a current event, a milestone, a scandal, a cultural happening, etc. – that makes your op-ed interesting to readers. However, as February conference call guest speaker Margot Freidman noted, you cannot let you hook get stale. If you wait too long to use it, your hook will no longer be relevant, especially in the internet age when news changes by the minute. The “War on Poverty” anniversary is still fresh enough to get attention, but not for long. If you want to use that particular hook for your op-ed, do your best to submit it this week.

Luckily, we can help. The February Action includes a sample op-ed using the War on Poverty hook. If you’re pressed for time to get your War on Poverty op-ed done this week, simply use our sample (that’s what it’s there for). We do recommend you personalize with local data or stories if you can; the more local or personal it is, the more likely it will get printed.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to submit your War on Poverty op-ed this week. Don’t let your hook go stale. Use the sample op-ed in the February Action to get started. You can find a list of media outlets and contact information in the RESULTS Media Guide. As always, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) or Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) if you have questions or need help with writing or submitting your op-ed.

For more information about op-ed hooks and other important tips on getting your op-eds published, please use our February National Conference Call resources on our National Conference Calls page.

Got Twenty Minutes? Recruit a Community Leaders and Increase Your Chances of Getting Published (February Action)

As you work on your op-eds this month, an easy way to increase your chances of getting published is to enlist a community leader or local expert to submit or co-submit your op-ed. When deciding whether to publish an op-ed, papers look to the author first and foremost. Is this someone with expertise on the issue they are writing about? Do they have credibility? Being a RESULTS volunteer certainly qualifies you on issues of poverty and citizen engagement. However, having the name of someone of local notoriety on your piece only ups your chance of the paper printing it. People of prominence garner attention and add credibility not only to your piece but to the paper itself.

When thinking of people, you can of course approach traditional allies, such as local anti-poverty organizations, progressive faith leaders, elected officials known for speaking out on poverty, and others. However, also consider non-traditional allies. For example, a banker can speak to the importance of helping families build savings and assets. A small business owner can speak to the importance of making sure people have enough money to spend in the local economy. An accountant can speak to the value of families claiming tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. The more creative a co-author, the more likely the newspapers and its readers will learn something new.

When approaching a potential co-author, it is good to have an idea of what you want to write. Just like pitching an editorial writer an idea for an editorial, you want to make the best case for the issue AND why they would be the perfect partner in submitting it. Even better, if you have a draft of your piece already done, you can offer to send him/her a copy to look over and edit; this certainly speeds up the process. After you have the piece completed, you and your co-author can both decide whether it would be strategically better you to submit it under both names or just the community leader’s name.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to enlist a community leader or local expert for your op-ed about expanding economic mobility in America. Think of traditional and non-traditional allies you can approach. Talk to members of your RESULTS group, as well as local friends and neighbors, about people you could reach out to. You can also contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty Team for advice. Have a good idea of the structure of your piece before your contact a potential co-author (having a draft done is even better). This will demonstrate that you are thoughtful and organized, as well as shorten the turnaround time.

Get Help on Tonight’s Media Support Call!

For additional help in writing your op-eds this month, join the RESULTS Media Support Team TONIGHT for its monthly support call. RESULTS Deputy Director of Communications Colin Smith will be the featured speaker on the call to talk specifically about the February Action. Call in and take advantage of his expertise, as well as the volunteer support on the call. The call is TONIGHT, February 18 at 8:00 pm ET; (712) 775-7300, passcode 954747#. If you have questions, please contact Ginnie Vogts at [email protected].

New Research Shows EITC and CTC Are Great at Reducing Poverty

For many years, RESULTS has been working with Congress to promote, protect, and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). For newcomers to these programs, the EITC and CTC are refundable tax credits targeted to low-income working families. Workers in low-wage jobs can claim these credits when filing their taxes and if the size of their credits is greater than what they owe in taxes, they get a refund from the IRS. This can amount to several thousand dollars in additional income. Considering that many American families are barely staying afloat working in jobs that pay the minimum wage or just above (a full-time minimum wage job pays on $15,000 per year), the EITC and CTC are invaluable.

A new posting from the Brookings Institution confirms this fact. Using U.S. Census data, it shows that the U.S. poverty rate would have been three percent higher (an additional 9 million people) in 2012 without the EITC and CTC. For children, the poverty rate would have been nearly 7 percent higher. But the analysis also points out areas where we can do more. While the EITC is great for families with children, it provides minimal benefit to workers without children, regardless of their income. In 2013, the maximum EITC for workers without children was $487, compared to $6,044 for a family with three children. The EITC also phases out for these workers at a much lower income. A married couple without children lose their EITC completely at about $20,000 of combined income (married couples with three children can earn 2.5 times that before losing their EITC).

No one disputes that the EITC for households with children should be greater than households without children, but the EITC for childless workers should at least be set at a level where they have the chance to escape poverty. Because these workers still pay taxes, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says that “childless workers are the sole group of workers that the federal tax system taxes into — and in many cases, deeper into — poverty.”

TAKE ACTION: As you meet with members of Congress this week and interact with their staff in the coming weeks and months, talk to them about expanding economic mobility. In addition to urging them to support policies that help families build for the future and supporting families as they get on their feet, discuss the importance of the EITC and CTC for working families. Tell them to make the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent and to increase the EITC for workers without children. Use our Economic Mobility Lobby Request Sheet in your meetings. You can also use our online e-mail alert to urge them to protect and strengthen tax credits for working families.

Child Tax Credit Amendment Update. Thank you to all of you who contacted your senators last week and told them to vote NO on an amendment by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) regarding the CTC. Her amendment would have cut the CTC for 5 million immigrant children and their families. At the last minute, the vote on the amendment was postponed until a later date. We will keep you posted if and when a vote comes up again.

Resister for the 2014 RESULTS International Conference

Looking for new vacation ideas? Want to visit our nation’s capital and make a difference in the world at the same time? Then join us this June for the 2014 RESULTS International Conference. The conference is being held June 21-24 in Washington, DC at the DoubleTree Crystal City Hotel. Our goal is to make this our biggest and best conference yet!

Confirmed guest speakers include 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. And that’s just a start. We expect more exciting speakers to be confirmed in the coming weeks. The International Conference is the biggest event of the year for RESULTS. It is not only a great learning and relational experience – it really does make a difference. RESULTS volunteers literally set up hundreds of congressional meetings during the conference all with the same message – end poverty now. We want you to be part of this powerful chorus this year. It is both effective and empowering.

TAKE ACTION: Register for the RESULTS/ RESULTS Educational Fund 2014 International Conference TODAY! You can register at www.results.org/events. Remember, the conference registration is only $165 (a steal for DC conferences). But don’t want too long – this Early Bird rate is only good for a limited time!

We also encourage 18-28 years olds to apply for our REAL Change Fellowship. We are looking for the next generation of young activists and leaders in fighting poverty at home and abroad. As part of REAL Change, 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. RESULTS will also cover most of your International Conference travel, hotel, and registration expenses. If you want to become the next leader for the end of poverty, apply for REAL Change today. The deadline to apply is March 21.

Join Free Agents Call TONIGHT at 9pm ET, Expansion Webinar Next Week

If you live in an area with no active RESULTS group, please join our U.S. Poverty Free Agents calls today and tonight. On the calls, we’ll talk about the February Action and goals for 2014. We welcome anyone interested in getting support in taking action. Tonight’s U.S. Poverty Free Agents Calls is at 9:00 pm ET (we already had the daytime call at 1:00 pm ET today). The call-in number is (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096.

Also, don’t forget that our RESULTS Expansion Team will be meeting next week for a webinar on expanding RESULTS into new areas. These calls are designed to help RESULTS reach its goal of starting 10 new US poverty groups and 20 new global groups this year. This month’s webinar 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. The webinar is next Wednesday, February 26 at 9:00 pm ET. To join, go to http://fuze.me/22978863 and/or dial: (201) 479-4595, meeting number: 22978863.

Quick News

Five Things We Can Do to Cut Poverty. Our friends at Half in Ten have a great new video that lists the five things we can do today to reduce poverty in America. Check it out and then share it with others!

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

Invite People to our St. Louis Fundraiser! If you have contacts in the St. Louis area, please invite them to the RESULTS St. Louis Celebration of Everyday Heroes on Saturday, March 1, 7:00 – 9:00 pm CT. Visit the event website for details.

Thank you to Willie Dickerson and Teresa Rugg who had the great idea of combining their February birthdays to do a joint Birthday Celebration fundraiser for RESULTS. You can wish them "Happy Birthday" and make an online gift in their honor at their RESULTS Birthday website. They are even holding an action-taking, fundraising birthday party this Wednesday. Hey are already half-way to their $500 goal! If you would like to create your own fundraising website for a birthday, wedding, graduation, or other life event, please visit the RESULTS Celebrations website or contact Cindy Levin at [email protected] for assistance.

Also, RESULTS is looking for a part-time Fundraising Events Associate. The Fundraising Events Associate will work in coordination with various organizational teams including operations, communications, finance, programs, and grants. He/she will provide overall support to volunteer fundraising activities with specific attention to the primary responsibilities below. Salary and benefits package are competitive and based on experience. Interested applicants should submit a resume, cover letter, and one writing sample for consideration to [email protected] by March 15, 2014. You can read a detailed description of the position on the RESULTS website.


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. Please submit a copy of your plan to Jos Linn at [email protected]. You can find all the Group Planning materials on our Group Resources page.

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.

Tuesday, February 18: RESULTS 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.

Friday, February 28: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at https://results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.

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. REGISTER TODAY!

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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