U.S. Poverty Weekly Update October 8, 2013

October 8, 2013

We didn’t lose the war on poverty. We cut and ran before it was finished.

 – RESULTS staff person and volunteer Jos Linn in an October 3 op-ed in the Des Moines Register

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

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Got Two Minutes? Join the RESULTS National Conference Call THIS Saturday at 12:30 pm ET

Today marks the start of the second week of the 2013 government shutdown. In addition to resolving this impasse, Congress has many other issues on its plate, namely resolving the debt ceiling, passing a Farm Bill with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), completing a 2014 budget which includes early learning programs, and a host of other issues. It’s easy to get lost in the fray. Join us this weekend for RESULTS National Conference Call, where we still sort through this legislative chaos so you can help keep Congress’ eye on the ball when it comes to protecting Americans living in poverty.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes and remind your local RESULTS group about the RESULTS monthly national conference call this Saturday, October 12 at 12:30 pm ET. Coordinate with your group where you will meet for the call. To join the call, dial (888) 409-6709 and once connected to the operator, ask for the RESULTS National Conference Call. Plan to call in no later than 12:27 pm ET to give time to the operator to connect you with the call.

We will have the October 2013 Conference Call Overview slides available later this week. You will find them on the RESULTS Home Page in the “Take Action” box in the top right-hand corner.

Got Ten Minutes? Start Your Research for Your Op-ed or Editorial

This month, we are focused on generating 30 pieces of media about protecting SNAP. With so much going on in Washington around the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate, people might forget that the fate of 4 million low-income people is hanging on the outcome of congressional action this fall. It is imperative that we don’t let them – or our elected officials – forget that fact. Generating media this month will help us keep the issue front and center.

When generating media, doing your homework is the most important part. If your letter, op-ed, or editorial pitch is not backed by facts and a sound argument, you won’t be successful. Therefore, research is the first step in creating a powerful media piece. Here are suggestions for SNAP research for your piece:

Note: Normally, we would urge you to find state and local poverty data recently released by the U.S. Census for your piece but the data is unavailable right now due to the government shutdown.

In addition to finding facts to back up your piece, it’s also important to know who to submit it to, namely the writers and editors at your local paper. Our Media Guide provides contact information for media outlets by state. Look up the paper(s) you want to submit your piece or pitch an editorial to. Contact them to find out which writer or editor to connect with about your piece.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to start researching your op-ed or editorial as well as the contacts at your local paper. When writing your piece (see more below), be sure to refer to the October Action for helpful tips on writing op-eds and pitching editorials. Let’s make this another successful media month by getting 30 pieces published, including 8 op-eds and 4 editorials. We’ve already got one op-ed under our belt, with this piece in the Des Moines Register last week from RESULTS Senior Associate Jos Linn. If others in your RESULTS group are taking the lead in generating editorials or op-eds, we urge you to amplify your message by writing a letter to the editor to your local papers.

Got Twenty Minutes? Write Your Powerful Op-ed or Pitch Your Editorial about SNAP (October Action)

Once you’ve done your research and have an idea about what you want to write for your op-ed this month (or pitch, if it’s an editorial), it’s time to put pen to paper and make it happen. For some people, writing more than a letter to the editor (LTE) can seem intimidating. Don’t let it be. Op-eds and editorials are just long-form versions of the LTE and more fun because you get to include more data, stories, and arguments for your position. Here are some thoughts to help you get started:

  • Have an Idea. This is obvious but can sometimes be the biggest hurdle. Figuring out what to write or how to write it (or pitch it) can seem daunting. Fortunately, the October Action has a helpful section about creating a “lead” that gives you ideas on how to start.
  • Make an Outline. Once you have an idea about what you want to write, map it out. This will help give your piece some structure. For an op-ed, start with a “lead” paragraph that gets the reader’s attention and boldly states your main point. Follow that with 3-4 supporting paragraphs that back up your point; include data and stories if you can. Finish with a strong call to action on what you want your lawmakers and/or readers to do. For an editorial, follow a similar format when outlining what you’ll say to the editorial writer when you make your call “pitch” your idea. The RESULTS EPIC Laser Talk is a great format to help with editorial pitches and the October Action has helpful tips as well.  
  • Write or Practice. The best way to create a good op-ed is just to start writing. Don’t worry on how it looks at the beginning, just start writing it. Once you do, the language and information will come easier than you might think. For editorials, start practicing what you’ll say to the editorial writer. You don’t want to make an editorial pitch without practicing beforehand. Again, don’t worry about sounding perfect right off the bat. Listen to yourself say it out loud – you’ll know what sounds good to you and what doesn’t.
  • Get Feedback. Once you’ve written your op-ed, read it through entirely once. See how it sounds. Once you’ve read it, go back and make the edits that you want to make. After you’ve created your edited draft, ask someone in your local RESULTS group or a friend or family member to read it over and give you feedback. This will make your piece even better. For editorials, role play your pitch with someone. Make adjustments based on the feedback you get. Again, this is about making your argument as strong as possible and feedback helps you get there.

The RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff is here to help you through this process. We’re happy to be sounding boards for ideas, editors for your op-eds, or role playing partners for an editorial pitch. Please use us – this is what we’re here for. RESULTS U.S. Poverty volunteers have gotten nearly 100 media pieces published in 2013, already double the amount we did last year. Let’s keep the momentum going so that when the chaos in DC calms down, lawmakers will know to protect SNAP.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to start drafting an op-ed to your local paper or start drafting your “pitch” to an editorial writer about protecting SNAP. The October Action has talking points and tips to help you make a powerful statement through the media about reducing hunger in America. Please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) or Jos Linn ([email protected]) for help with your media outreach. As always, if you are pressed for time, you can send a letter to the editor about SNAP using our online LTE alert.

Shutdown Continues While Head Start Suffers; Join CHN Shutdown Webinar at 4pm ET TODAY

We are now in the second week of the federal government shutdown and there seems to be no end in sight. House Republican leaders continue to insist that President Obama negotiate on changes to the Affordable Care Act before they will vote to reopen the government. President Obama and Senate Democrats have said they are willing to negotiate on a final FY 2014 budget but only after the government is reopened. In the meantime, the House has passed several bills to reopen parts of the government, but the Senate has defeated each of them. RESULTS and many of our allies oppose this “piecemeal” approach to budgeting; it would only invite more of these standoffs in the future.

Meanwhile, the effects of the government shutdown are being felt nationwide. Small businesses cannot get government-funded loans, national parks are closed, furloughed employees cannot work or get paid, border patrols have been suspended in some states, and safety inspections have been cut back. The shutdown is also taking its toll on low-income families. While the USDA reported last week that it currently had enough reserves in the WIC program (food assistance for new mothers and young children), those reserves will be exhausted at the end of the month. If funding is not allocated by then, 9 million infants, young children, mothers, and pregnant women, will lose benefits to help them buy food, baby formula, diapers, and other important needs. Head Start is also feeling the pain. Head Start programs in six states were forced to close last week, denying more than 7,000 low-income children and their families access to pre-school (private funders have offered to donate $10 million to re-open these centers) . Annual funding renewals for 23 programs serving 18,000 children were up on October 1, meaning that if the shutdown continues much longer, more children and families could face closed doors.

Worse yet is hitting the debt ceiling next week. While some in Congress believe that defaulting on our debt is “no big deal,” most analysts believe a default would be catastrophic, even beyond the Great Recession. Yesterday, House speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8) said that Republicans in the House would not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama agreed to spending cuts, no new taxes, and changes to the Affordable Care Act. The president has refused to negotiate over whether the United States will pay its bills, although the Administration hinted yesterday that it might be open to a short-term debt ceiling increase to avoid a default next week.

TAKE ACTION: To learn more about the government shutdown and its impact on low-income Americans, join our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs for the “End the Government Shutdown” webinar today, October 8 at 4:00 pm ET. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Committee, will be a guest speaker. Register now so you can learn what we're facing and how to increase the pressure on Congress to do the right thing. 

Also, send a letter to the editor today telling lawmakers to end this uncertainty and gridlock now. While Congress wrangles back and forth, people are getting hurt – especially those who struggle in poverty. It’s time for congressional leaders to put their personal ambitions aside and do what’s best for America. Use our draft LTE from last week’s Update to send in your letter today. Our Media Guide has contact information for your local newspapers.

RESULTS Outreach Update; Join Intro Call Tomorrow Night

If you know someone who would make a good advocate for the end of poverty, please invite him/her to one of our bi-monthly RESULTS Introductory Calls. These 30-45 minute calls give a nice overview of RESULTS and inspire new people to get involved. The next RESULTS Intro Call is tomorrow, October 9 at 9:00 pm ET. Register for this or another upcoming call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.

Kudos to RESULTS Organizer Myrdin Thompson for braving a deluge and white-knuckled drive from Louisville to Lexington, KY this past weekend to start a new RESULTS group. While the weather dampened attendance, Myrdin was able to meet with a handful of folks, including a Head Start employee who told of how 1,200 children will lose services and 300 Head Start employees will lose their jobs in the Lexington area if the government shutdown continues. Myrdin is working with her and others in Lexington to have another meeting (hopefully in better weather) later this month. Myrdin will be also presenting at the Fall Bonner Network Conference in Memphis, TN, October 18-20 (our dear friend and recent RESULTS consultant Katja Kleine will be presenting with her). If you know people in Lexington or Memphis Myrdin should connect with, please contact her at [email protected].

Also last weekend, Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns Meredith Dodson traveled to Chapel Hill, NC to present at the Resolve to Fight Poverty Conference. She did an advocacy training and presentations about tax policy and protecting SNAP. Fifteen students signed up to get RESULTS updates and alerts and many want to get involved with RESULTS locally.

New England Organizer Zahara Heckscher continues her outreach in Maine and New Hampshire. She will be returning to New Hampshire later this month for an event with RESULTS founder Sam Daly-Harris and would welcome the opportunity to meet with new allies. If you know people in Maine and New Hampshire with whom she should connect, please contact Zahara at [email protected] or (202) 489-8908.

Finally, Jos Linn will be traveling to Montana this week to meet with RESULTS advocates in the Whitefish area. They are holding an outreach event this Thursday, October 10 at 6:30 pm at 133 Mallard Loop in Whitefish, MT. If you know anyone in northwest Montana, please invite them to attend. Contact Jos ([email protected]) and see the Facebook event page for more details. Jos is also working with new advocates in Waterloo, IA and will be traveling there on October 24 to do an advocacy training; if you know anyone in the Waterloo area, please contact Jos to get them connected to RESULTS.


Join the Free Agents Call Next Tuesday. The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents will be meeting for their monthly support call next Tuesday, October 15 at 9:00 pm ET. If you are an advocate in an area with no existing RESULTS U.S. Poverty group, join us for the call. On these calls, we celebrate actions people have taken over the last month, discuss the latest going on in DC, and review actions you can take to make an impact on poverty. On this month’s call, we also discuss the possibility of adding a daytime Free Agents call during the month to allow more people to participate; we welcome your input. If you have questions about the Free Agents, contact Jos Linn at [email protected].  

RESULTS Fundraising Update

How can you help raise resources for RESULTS without hosting an event? Any individual or group can host an online fundraiser. Online fundraising with RESULTS has never been easier. Here are three ways partners can engage with RESULTS fundraising this fall without changing out of your comfy clothes. Contact Cindy Levin at [email protected] for help in planning your event.

  • Celebrations: Have a birthday coming up? Consider inviting your friends to fight poverty with us by donating your celebration to RESULTS! Visit http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSCelebrations to set up your own custom online donation page and ask friends to donate to RESULTS instead of shopping for a present this year. 
  • Run/Walk Challenge: October is the last month to register for the LOTR Virtual Villains Challenge – a virtual walk/run to benefit RESULTS. Register here to earn real, shiny medals for completing a 5K, 10K, or 13.1 mile challenge on your own…anytime and anywhere. Spread the word!
  • Thanksgiving: For the month of November, we will create a webpage for a "Virtual Thanksgiving Feast." You can invite your friends to donate online in to help those who suffer from hunger during this time of feasting and plenty. You can hold an actual feast with your friends or just treat it as an online way for people to engage with us. Check the weekly updates for more info in the coming weeks.

RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House: October 31 – November 11; Senate: November 28 – December 1. Request face-to-face meetings.

Wednesday, October 9: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.

Saturday, October 12: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. (888) 409-6709. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Tuesday, October 15: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 9:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS (7378587, plus #).

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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