U.S. Poverty Weekly Update March 11, 2014

March 11, 2014

Circles gave me the knowledge to get out of poverty and RESULTS gave me the voice out of poverty. And not only a voice, but a voice I didn’t even know I had.

— RESULTS Albuquerque volunteer and Circles Leader LaNae Havens on the RESULTS March 2014 U.S. Poverty National Conference Call

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Got Two Minutes? Tell Congress about the Financial Security Credit (March Action)

On Saturday’s RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, we talked about the importance of helping low-income Americans build savings through the Financial Security Credit (FSC). The credit make saving easy for low-income tax payers. They could just check a box on their tax return asking the IRS to direct deposit all or part of their tax refund into an eligible savings vehicle (if they have no account, they could create one on the return). To encourage participation, their deposit would be matched 50 cents for every dollar deposited, up to $500 per year. A similar program, SaveUSA (first started as SaveNYC), has helped more than 4,000 low-income people start savings accounts and save over $4 million over the last six years. The FSC would bring this innovative savings idea to low-income Americans across the country.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send an e-mail to your members of Congress about the Financial Security Credit. Urge them to talk to tax leaders about the FSC and to include low-income asset development in tax reform legislation. For representatives, also urge them to co-sponsor H.R.2917, the Financial Security Credit Act of 2013 (there is no companion bill in the Senate at this point). For more information about the FSC and out U.S. Poverty Campaigns for this year, visit our 2014 U.S. Poverty Campaigns Overview.

Got Ten Minutes? Use the March Action during Next Week’s Recess (March Action)

This month, RESULTS U.S. Poverty volunteers are writing letters to members of Congress about the importance of asset building in addressing poverty. Specifically, we are urging members of Congress to get behind the Financial Security Credit (FSC), which would help low-income taxpayers build savings during tax season. By making saving easy (people sign up on their tax return when low-income household typically receive large refunds from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC)), and smart (if the savings balance is maintained for eight month, participants receive 50 cents for every dollar saved up to $500 per year), all the pieces are in place for the FSC to work. In fact, the SaveUSA program has shown that this idea can succeed.

The biggest problem with the FSC right now is not its concept or its ability to succeed, but its obscurity. But for a few lawmakers, most members of Congress know little or nothing about the FSC. That’s why your letters this month are so important. They introduce this innovative concept to lawmakers, which is the first step in building the momentum to be included in tax reform in the next few years.

In addition to your letters, you also have another way this month to put this issues front and center with lawmakers. Both the House and Senate will be on recess next week, March 17-21. This gives you the chance to meet with them to discuss the FSC face-to-face in meetings and at public events. This is a great opportunity to ramp up support for the FSC and talk about the broader issue of expanding economic mobility in America.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to take the March Action. Write letters to your members of Congress about the Financial Security Credit and urge them to talk to tax leaders about including it in any new tax legislation. Also urge your House members co-sponsor H.R.2917, the Financial Security Credit Act of 2013. The March Action has talking points and background information to help you.

In addition, contact schedulers for all your members of Congress THIS WEEK to ask about face-to-face meetings during next week’s recess. Ask to schedule a sit-down meeting with your member of Congress to talk about expanding economic mobility and the FSC. Also ask the scheduler about any town hall or public events you can attend during the recess. To help you prepare, see our Financial Security Credit Laser Talk and our Economic Mobility Lobby Meeting Request Sheet. Once you have a meeting scheduled or know you’re attending a town hall, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) for help in getting ready. For more information about the FSC and our 2014 Economic Mobility Campaign, check out our resources from last weekend’s March U.S. Poverty National Conference Call.

Got Twenty Minutes? Connect with “Real Experts” on Poverty in Your Community

If you missed last Saturday’s RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, you missed something special. We had two fabulous guest speakers on the call – Scott Miller and LaNae Havens of Circles USA. Circles is a partner with RESULTS in the effort to erase poverty in America. Circles works in local communities, pairing families struggling with poverty with more affluent “allies” for support in addressing the economic challenges they’re facing. As Scott (CEO of Circles) said on the call, the purpose is to create peer relationships of support across income lines and Circles has proven very successful in helping families overcome financial obstacles and foster a more informed, mature dialogue about poverty.

And there is no better example of this than LaNae Havens, a Circles leader in Albuquerque, who also spoke on the call. LaNae talked about how she and her ten-year-old son unpaid bills and losing utilities in her home. She wasn’t sure where to turn next, but then she got referred to the local Circles group and got paired up with “amazing” allies in the program. Through that support structure, she was able to set and meet financial goals, which she said “took me out of the isolation” she felt with just trying to keep her head above water. Since graduating from Circles, she has moved to a safer neighborhood, has a good job, and earns enough where she can work, go to school to get her degree in social work, and take care of her son. Her story is inspiration.

Circles is now looking to expand their reach beyond the individualized work they do in communities around the country; they want to help effect policy changes that impact Americans living in poverty. Because of RESULTS’ history and expertise in advocacy, it was almost inevitable that RESULTS and Circles would partner up. As LaNae said on the call, her work with the local RESULTS group in Albuquerque has changed her life. The tools and support she has received from RESULTS helped her attend last year’s RESULTS International Conference in Washington, where Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Rep. Lujan Grisham then used LaNae’s story to publicly advocate against cuts to SNAP on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

LaNae’s story and the model of Circles are prime examples of what can happen when we work to support people living in poverty, rather than condemn them. And we need lawmakers to hear more of these stories. As Scott said on the call, anti-poverty policy is written by people who haven’t faced poverty directly so how can they know for sure what works best? Raising up the voices “real experts” will help us enact policy that truly makes a difference and creates lasting change.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to research and connect with “real experts” on poverty in your community. Look for organizations that serve people facing financial hardship and offer to work together. You can start my looking to see if there is a Circles group in your community. Contact them and explain that Circles and RESULTS are working together in other communities. If there is no Circles group, reach out to members of the Assets & Opportunity Network, local service providers, Community Action program, VITA programs, faith communities, food pantries, Head Start centers, etc. You could:

  • Offer to meet with them to tell them about RESULTS and to explore ways you can work together.
  • Offer to do an advocacy 101 presentation to teach people how to tell their stories.
  • Offer to have a “real expert” attend a lobby meeting or town hall with you to talk directly with lawmakers.
  • Offer to do a letter writing session using our Financial Security Credit outreach action sheet.
  • Offer to share their story in an op-ed or letter to the editor.

If you need advice or coaching for connecting your local RESULTS group to “real experts” in your community, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) or Meredith Dodson ([email protected]). Also, see our Activist Toolkit for different actions you can take to connect with others in your community.

RESULTS deeply thanks Scott Miller and LaNae Havens for speaking on this month’s National Conference Call. If you have not done so, we encourage you to listen to their stories. You can listen to a recording of the call, and download the call slides and summary, on our National Conference Calls page.

Outreach – Invite People to Iowa City Group Start Tomorrow Night!

Do you live in eastern Iowa? Are you a University of Iowa student or graduate? Do you know anyone who lives in Iowa City? Then pick up the phone, fire up that mouse, limber up those texting fingers and invite them to the RESULTS Group Start meeting TOMORROW NIGHT, March 12, in Iowa City! RESULTS Grassroots Manager Jos Linn will do the presentation, which is at 6:30-8:30 pm CT at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 2675 E. Washington St., Iowa City, IA. You can forward people our Iowa City Facebook Event page or the Iowa City event from the RESULTS online calendar. For more details about the meeting, contact Jos at [email protected].

If you don’t know anyone near Iowa City but would like to connect someone else to RESULTS, invite them to the next RESULTS Introductory Call, which is tomorrow, Wednesday, March 12 at 9:00 pm ET. Register at: https://results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.

Here are some additional meetings RESULTS staff will be doing to expand RESULTS’ reach and impact over the next several weeks:

  • March 23: Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) will be presenting at Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, DC.
  • March 26-27: Myrdin Thompson will be in Memphis, TN to work on starting a new group there. Contact Myrdin for more details ([email protected]).
  • April 1: RESULTS Gig Harbor (WA) Group Start Meeting, 6:30 pm PT, 87 Raft Island, Gig Harbor, WA. Contact Jos Linn for more details ([email protected]).
  • April 4-6: Meredith and Kristy Martino will be doing outreach in New Hampshire and Maine. Contact Kristy Martino for more details ([email protected]).

President’s Budget Proposal Makes New Investments in Working Families

President Obama released his FY 2015 Budget proposal last Tuesday and is proposing new investments in low-income individuals and families to help them move up the economic ladder.

Expansion of the EITC. The president’s budget would essentially double the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers without children, which is currently only $487. His budget would also let these workers earn more income before losing the credit (current cut-off is about $15,000; it would be raised to about $18,000). The president would also expand the age range for EITC eligibility from the current 25 to 65 years old to 21 to 67 years old. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 13.5 million people will benefit from this expansion and it will lift 500,000 people out of poverty.

Investments in Early Childhood. The president’s budget would also increase investments in early childhood programs. Head Start funding would increase by $100 million in FY 2015 and Early Head Start funding for EHS-child care partnerships would increase by $150 million under normal appropriations. The EHS-child care partnerships would also receive an addition $800 from the president’s Opportunity Initiative. It’s estimated that these investments will help 100,000 children get access to preschool services. The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) would see an increase of $57 million in discretionary funding and $750 million increase in mandatory funding. Finally, the president would invest $75 billion over ten years to make sure all low- and moderate-income children have access to quality preschool.

You can see a synopsis of how the president’s budget impacts low-income Americans from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

TAKE ACTION: RESULTS applauds the president for recognizing the importance of tax credits for working families and investments in early childhood education. Use our online tax credit to send a message to Congress about the EITC and our online early childhood alert to urge Congress to strengthen investments in early learning.

RESULTS International Conference: Apply for REAL Change before Time is Up

We are looking for the next generation of young activists and leaders in fighting poverty. If you are between the ages of 18 and 28 years old, RESULTS will train and guide you to create personal relationships with policymakers in Congress and other branches of government as part of the REAL Change Fellowship Program. We’ll also train and support you to speak powerfully and engage with the media and your community, and bring you to the 2014 RESULTS International Conference, where most of your costs will be covered. This is a unique opportunity for you to learn important policy and advocacy skills to use both in Washington, DC and in your community. But you can’t participate if you don’t apply! Applications for REAL Change are due in just ten days on March 21. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity. To learn more, check out www.results.org/realchange and encourage someone you know to apply!

For the rest of you who don’t quality for REAL Change, we also want to see you at the 2014 RESULTS International Conference! The conference is being held June 21-24 in Washington, DC at the DoubleTree Crystal City Hotel. We have lots of great speakers lined up (Jim Kim, Marian Wright Edelman, David Bornstein Michael Gerson and Shearine McGee ) and are thrilled to announce that March conference call speaker LaNae Havens of Circles and RESULTS in Albuquerque will also be a speaker. Check out the conference agenda on the International Conference page for all the exciting events we have planned (and we’re adding new things each week).

Register for the conference TODAY!

Quick News

Call Senators about Reauthorizing Child Care Assistance. The Senate will be voting soon to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).which was last reauthorized nearly 20 years ago. High-quality child care is critical for the success of children and their parents. Child care provides countless early learning opportunities to children and enables parents to work so they can support their families. The new bill would improve the health and safety of children in child care settings, make it easier for families to get and keep the child care assistance they need, enable children to have more stable child care, and strengthen the overall quality of child care. Call (202) 224-3121 today and ask for your Senate office (you’ll have to call twice for each senator; you can find your senators on the RESULTS Elected Officials page). Once connected, tell the receptionist your name, your city and say "I urge the Senator to vote yes on the bill to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Thank you."

Watch “Paycheck to Paycheck” Next Week. Plan to watch the HBO documentary Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life & Times of Katrina Gilbert on March 17 at 9:00 pm ET. It follows Katrina Gilbert and the daily struggles that come with living on the brink and raising three children by herself. Make it watch party by inviting others in you know to watch it with you. If you don’t have HBO, you can register for a FREE streaming event of the documentary at ShriverReport.org, where you can also learn more about the documentary and upcoming contests, tweet-ups, and Google Hangouts with Maria Shriver and other exciting guests.

Not Too Late to Send in Op-eds. Thank you again to everyone who submitted an op-ed as part of our February Action. If you have a pending op-ed or letter to the editor, be sure to follow up with the paper to see if they will publish it. If you haven’t submitted one yet, it’s not too late. There are good new hooks available for you, including the release of the president’s budget. In addition, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) released his new report “The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later,” last week, calling the War on Poverty a failure. However, some of the researchers he cited have said he misrepresented their research and ignored successful parts of the War on Poverty. This is a good lead in about giving the true picture of poverty in America and how to solve it. As always, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) or Deputy Communications Director Colin Smith ([email protected]) for any help you need in drafting, editing or submitting your piece.

For updates on all our U.S. Poverty Campaigns, see our 2013 U.S. Poverty Campaigns Summary and our 2014 U.S. Poverty Campaigns Overview on the RESULTS website.

Fundraising Update – Order a “Fundraiser to Go!”

We are finalizing a resource for your called the “Fundraiser to Go” to make it easy for you to host a fundraiser with an outreach twist. This kit of resources on a flash drive will provide you great tools to bring an "Everyday Heroes" theme to your event. This sort of fundraiser is ideal for helping make connections in your community and inviting new partners into your group. The flash drive will contain all the goodies you need for a great party, including:

  • Sample fundraising shares from partners
  • The RESULTS “Everyday Heroes” video and other video shares from Muhammad Yunus and Senator Bennett
  • A slideshow of RESULTS partners in superhero costumes
  • “Everyday Hero” invitation templates
  • Sample emails for invitations and follow-up
  • Your donation reporting documents
  • Even ideas for appetizers!

Contact your fundraising coaches (Cindy Levin or Jen DeFranco) to receive a “Fundraiser to Go” resources kit in the mail to throw your own Celebration of Everyday Heroes.


Media Support Call on March 18. The next Media Training call is Tuesday, March 18 at 8:00 pm ET. We will be concentrating on securing meetings with editorial boards. RESULTS Deputy Director of Communications Colin Smith will be leading the discussion about editorials. Editorials are almost always based on relationships developed over time with the editorial board of your community newspaper. Learn how to approach editors and make a positive impression. This month’s call will be a webinar. Access the webinar slides online at: http://fuze.me/23656947. To join by phone, dial (201) 479-4595, meeting number: 23656947.

Join the Free Agents Calls on March 18. 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, March 18 at 1:00 pm ET and 9:00 pm ET (choose whichever call is most convenient for you). The call-in number is (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096.

Please Send in Your 2014 Group Plans! If you have not submitted your 2014 Group Plan Summary, please submit a copy 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: March 17-21, April 14-25. Request face-to-face meetings.

Wednesday, March 12: RESULTS Iowa City Group Start Meeting, 6:30 pm CT, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 2675 E. Washington St., Iowa City, IA. For more details, contact Jos at [email protected]. RSVP at our Iowa City Facebook Event page.

Wednesday, March 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/.

Tuesday, March 18: RESULTS Media Support Webinar, 8:00 pm ET. Join online at: http://fuze.me/23656947. To join by phone, dial (201) 479-4595, meeting number: 23656947

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

Saturday, April 12: 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. 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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