U.S. Poverty Weekly Update September 13, 2016

September 13, 2016

U.S. Poverty Campaigns

Weekly Update | September 13, 2016

“At 2 years old, I was eating food from a garbage can. Sometimes, after school, I wouldn’t have a home of my own to go to. School lunches and SNAP, for me, were some of the only consistent parts of my childhood.”

– RESULTS Manhattan (KS) volunteer Daniel Greenhalgh a September 4 letter to the editor in the Topeka Capital-Journal

In This Week’s Update:

Quick Action: Send a Letter to the Editor Using New Poverty Data to Expand the EITC

Take Action!

Got Two Minutes? Poverty Goes Down! Send a Letter to the Editor Today Using Our Online Alert (September Action)

Today the U.S. Census released its new poverty data for 2015. The data shows that the official poverty rate in 2015 was 13.5 percent, down from 14.8 percent in 2014. This translates into 3.5 million fewer people being in poverty in 2015 than in 2014 (see more details below). This is a big story, so use it to inspire action. With the upcoming election, we want lawmakers and candidates talking about their plans to address poverty. Use the new Census data to send a letter to the editor today urging them to take steps to reduce poverty in America.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to use our online alert to send a letter to the editor to your local paper urging Congress and candidates to take action on poverty. We’ve updated the alert to reflect the new poverty data released today. Be sure to quickly personalize your letter and then send it in while the story is still hot. If you have questions or need help, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]).

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Got Ten Minutes? Use New Poverty Data and RESULTS Resources to Submit Your Own Letter to the Editor (September Action)

The U.S. Census 2015 poverty data is out and it shows that poverty is on the decline in the U.S. Here’s what the Official Poverty Measure (OPM) shows:

  • The poverty rate in 2015 was 13.5 percent, or about 43.1 million people. This is more than a one percent drop since 2014 when the rate was 14.8 percent.
  • 3.5 million fewer people were in poverty in 2015 than in 2014.
  • Child poverty dropped from 21.1 percent in 2014 to 19.7 percent in 2015. This means than about 1 million fewer children were living in poverty in 2015 (14.5 million) than in 2014 (15.5 million).
  • The poverty rate for African-Americans dropped from 26.2 percent in 2014 to 24.1 percent in 2015.
  • The poverty rate for Hispanics dropped from 23.6 percent in 2014 to 21.4 percent in 2015.

However, as noted on last Saturday’s National Webinar, the official poverty measure is not the most accurate measure of poverty in the U.S., as it excludes non-cash assistance such as SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) in its calculations. Therefore, the Census also does a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) that includes these benefits. The SPM reveals the following data for 2015:

  • The SPM poverty rate declined to 14.3 percent in 2015, down from 15.3 percent in 2014; this means 45.7 million people were in poverty in 2015 using the SPM formulas
  • The EITC and CTC lifted 9.2 million people above the poverty line in 2015.
  • The EITC and CTC lifted 4.8 million children above the poverty line in 2015.
  • SNAP lifted 4.6 million people above the poverty line in 2015.

While this is good news, it’s no time to celebrate when one in seven Americans and one in five American children are living in poverty. In additional, as our friends at Spotlight on Poverty pointed out today,  the risk of poverty is much broader and more dynamic than people realize. Poverty is not something that just happens to “those poor people”; it is more a game of musical chairs that changes and puts millions more at risk. Getting letters to the editor and op-eds published provides you a platform highlight these issues, as well as make the case for doing more.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to write and submit your own letter to the editor using the new poverty data to talk about the importance of anti-poverty programs. The updated September Action has talking points that include highlights from the new data as well as sample letters to the editor to get you started. We urge you to focus on expanding the EITC, but there are also templates about protecting SNAP and addressing the racial wealth gap. These templates allow your local RESULTS group to submit multiple letters to the same paper highlighting the new data, thus increasing your chance of getting published. Use these resources to write your own individual letter and send it to your local paper or another publication you are targeting. If you need a list of media outlets in your state, you can look it up in our Media Guide. Be sure to sure to reference any stories (or the lack thereof) of the poverty data release in the paper. If you need help with your letters, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for assistance.

For additional information about the poverty data and tips for getting letters published, please refer to our September U.S. Poverty National Webinar resources on our National Webinars page.

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Got Twenty Minutes? Amplify Your Voice by Sending in an Op-ed About Poverty in America (September Action)

This month, we are working to generate media around the new poverty data released today by the U.S. Census. We anticipate a good number of letters to the editor about this issue. Letters are a quick and easy way to get the word out about important issues. However, you can have a much bigger impact by submitting your own op-ed about the data release and its implications for anti-poverty programs.

Whereas letters, due to their required brevity, force you to limit yourself to one or two facts about the issue, op-eds allow you the opportunity to delve deeper and not only share more facts but also stories that illustrate them. Op-eds give the reader a clearer understanding of poverty in America and perhaps information to shed new light on the issue for them. In other words, an op-ed gives you a better chance to change hearts and minds.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to prepare to take the September Action by submitting an op-ed about the new poverty data. Take advantage of this unique moment each year (when the data comes out) to amplify your voice and the voices of those suffering in poverty by submitting your own op-ed today. To help you, RESULTS has a sample op-ed you can use as a template for your own piece – edit it as much or as little as you like before submitting it (the more personal you make it, the better). If you have questions or need help with your op-eds, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for assistance.

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Monthly Webinar Highlights Your Successes

Last weekend’s RESULTS U.S. Poverty Webinar provided a wealth of information for taking action this month. Guest speaker Elizabeth Lower-Basch of CLASP shared her insights about the poverty data and the importance of safety-net programs in keeping the poverty rate down. She answered several poignant questions from the grassroots and gave us a good preview of what to expect from today’s poverty data release. She also shared valuable information about how to talk about these issues with lawmakers. We also heard from volunteer Willie Dickerson of RESULTS Snohomish (WA). Willie is the most prolific media generator in RESULTS today (and maybe ever), generating nearly 300 letters to the editor, op-eds, and articles since 2014. With such invaluable experience, Willie shared his insights on getting letters published, including staying committed to write regularly, using other people’s letters as hooks, and not getting discouraged when your piece is not published.

We also spent time celebrating your grassroots successes so far this year. To date, you’ve gotten 96 media pieces published (76 LTEs, 11 articles, 7 op-eds, 2 editorials), which is includes 54 pieces about SNAP pieces and 36 pieces about the EITC. We want to see that number go way up this month. In addition, you’ve had 100 face-to-face meetings with members of Congress (66 House, 34 Senate) in 2016, plus meetings with 5 congressional candidates and 1 presidential candidate (Clinton). Just since the RESULTS International Conference in late June, you’ve had 31 face-to-face meetings, making it one of our most active summers ever.

We thank all our guest speakers on this month’s webinar, including Elizabeth Lower-Basch, Willie Dickerson, Cacie Waters, and Judy Zobel. If you were not on the webinar, it is worth your time to listen to the recording. Find the recording, slides, and summary on our National Webinars page.

Most of all, thank you for all the hard work you do to keep the issue poverty in front of lawmakers, candidates, and the public. This is how change happens and we could not do it without you.

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Please Fill Out Fundraising Survey

As we highlighted on Saturday’s webinar, we are improving on our budget process this year by taking your fundraising plans into account before we begin the process. However, it won’t work if you don’t tell us your plans (so far, we’ve had only two groups fill out our 2017 fundraising survey). Please let us know your 2017 fundraising plans by filling out the 2017 Fundraisning Survey today. You only have one week left; the deadline is September 21. If you have questions, please contact Mea Geizhals at [email protected].

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Quick News

Vote to End Hunger Holds Press Conference about Poverty and the Election. Coming on the heels of new USDA data released showing food insecurity in the U.S. is on the decline, yesterday Vote to End Hunger held a telephonic press conference to call on presidential debate moderators to ask the candidates their plans to address poverty. RESULTS Expert on Poverty and Grassroots Board Member Maxine Thomas of Indianapolis spoke on the call about the importance of addressing hunger and poverty in this year’s election. The coalition of 165 organizations will deliver a petition of more than 600,000 signatures to Lester Holt of NBC News – the first debate moderator –  tomorrow in New York City, as well as to the candidates themselves. If you have not yet signed the petition, sign here.

Join Experts on Poverty Twitter Chat Next Thursday. On Thursday, September 22, many our powerful Experts on Poverty will be joining Witnesses to Hunger for a Twitter chat focused on poverty and the election. You can follow along with #WitnessesChat and join the conversation! Check out Witnesses to Hunger’s latest chat recap on storify and our Experts on Poverty chat from June here

Save the Date for the 2017 RESULTS International Conference! The dates for the 2017 RESULTS International Conference are set: July 22 – 25, 2017 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC. Please mark your calendars. We’ll have more details and registration information soon.

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Upcoming Events

Go to the RESULTS Events Calendar to see a full list of RESULTS events. Also, find a list of the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff with contact information on the RESULTS website.

Congressional Recesses: House: Monday, October 3 – Friday, November 11; Senate: Monday, October 10 – Friday, November 11. Request face-to-face meetings. After your meeting, please tell us how it went by filling out the RESULTS Lobby Report Form: www.tinyurl.com/RESLRF.

U.S. Census 2015 Poverty Data Release, Tuesday, September 13. Find the data at: http://www.census.gov/topics/income-poverty/poverty.html.

RESULTS Introductory Call, Friday, September 14 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 Calls, Tuesday, September 20 at 1:00 pm and 8:00 pm ET. To participate, login in at http://fuze.me/32256018 or dial by phone at (201) 479-4595, Meeting ID: 32256018#.

RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Webinar, Saturday, October 8 at 12:30 pm ET. Join online at http://fuze.me/32255914 or by phone at (201) 479-4595, Meeting ID: 32255914#. Listen to previous webinars on our National Webinars page.

RESULTS International Conference, Saturday, July 22 – Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Washington Court Hotel, Washington, DC. More details soon.

If you have a question, comment or suggestion for the RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Board, please e-mail them to RESULTS Grassroots Board Member Vanessa Garcia at [email protected]. You can download RESULTS’ most recent Annual Report at: https://results.org/about/annual_report/.

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