Friday, February 29, 2008

Hillary Clinton takes a stand on child poverty

Some of you may know that I am an Obama supporter, but I must admit that I was glad to see this post by Senator Clinton in the Huffington Post today. She is taking a stand against child poverty and setting some very tangible goals: to end child hunger by 2012 and to cut child poverty in half by 2020. I assume she is only talking about poverty in the US. While it is not as bold as Edwards' goals and it doesn't address global poverty, it is still a step in the right direction. It puts poverty back in the national debate where it should be. So...let's see what happens!

(C'mon, Obama...step it up!)

The Huffington Post
Posted February 28, 2008 | 07:07 PM (EST)

Marian Wright Edelman, my friend and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, says it best: "If we don't stand up for children, then we don't stand for much."

In my 35 years as an advocate for children and families, I have never met a child without potential. But I've met plenty of children growing up in extraordinary hardship and lacking the basic tools they need to succeed. Even in the United States, the wealthiest nation in the world, 13 million children still live in poverty and 5 million live in extreme poverty. Too many children are expected to overcome these hurdles, become productive citizens, and compete in a modern global economy without the benefit of sound schooling, decent housing, proper nutrition, and adequate health care.

This is not just an economic problem. It's a moral outrage.

I've been working to better the lives of children for 35 years, and the future of America's children will be a centerpiece of my presidency. The issue is personal for me. My own mother struggled through a childhood of neglect to give her own children the opportunities she never had. My mother taught me at a young age that all children deserve the chance to live up to their God-given potential and make the most of their lives.

For the better part of my professional and public life, I've focused on issues like children's health care, education, foster care and adoption, child care, and education -- all of which have a direct impact on children and their families. I took an extra year in law school to study child development and to work on legal assistance for the poor. Then I went to work for the Children's Defense Fund, where I represented abused and neglected children and children with disabilities. In Arkansas, I was tasked with leading an effort to reform the state's education system, then ranked near the bottom. I started a special program for mothers of pre-schoolers to get their kids ready for kindergarten, and also worked on reforming the state's rural health care system, which helped many poor families and their children. As First Lady, I pushed the effort to expand Head Start and help create Early Head Start, to reform our nation's foster care and adoption systems, and to strengthen child care across the United States.

After universal health care didn't succeed, I helped create the Children's Health Insurance Program, which now covers six million children in need.

Running for president has only strengthened my resolve to find solutions to problems affecting our children. In southern Ohio today, I announced a plan to take on child poverty -- and to end the moral outrage of children living in such neglect.

I have two bold goals: First, we're going to end child hunger by 2012. It's a national crisis and a national disgrace that more than 12 million children in America go hungry every day. I will do everything I can to reduce that number to zero.

Second, we're going to cut child poverty in half by 2020, lifting more than 6 million children above the poverty line.

You can learn the full details of my plan on my website.

These goals are ambitious, but we can -- and must -- achieve them. Child poverty is an affront to our most basic American values. Indeed, our treatment of children is a measure of our decency, compassion, and humanity as a people. It's time for the best of America -- our talent, innovative spirit, and potential for progress -- to be reflected in our children. The children of America are a national treasure -- and a national responsibility. Securing their future will be at the heart of my presidency.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Presidential campaign=gamble for Social Justice

My letter to the editor of the Morton Grove Champion ran today in response to a columnist that proposed that Obama, Clinton and McCain should stop campaigning now and give all their campaign money to the homeless. He gave a lot of good facts about domestic poverty and I felt I should give a response to let the Champion know that people care about poverty issues, no matter how outrageous the premise of the column was originally :)
Morton Grove Champion
Feb 28, 2008

"Thanks for attention to poverty issues"

Thanks to Paul Sassone for giving space to poverty issues on February 14th. I am all for increased donations to help the homeless. The numbers he mentioned from campaign spending would do much for people at risk for basic needs. Yet this is a gamble for stakes far larger than that. A half-billion is relatively small compared to the good that could come of policy changes that fight global and domestic poverty. For starters, under consideration this year will be a $5 billion dollar increase for more and better poverty-focused development aid to help people living on less than $1 a day. Healthcare reform, better education for urban poor, funding for food stamps
these are all domestic changes which can save wasteful spending and use tax money for the most good. When candidates and their supporters put their money on the line for a social justice gamble of this scale, it puts spending in perspective. If someone doesn’t feel his or her candidate is involved in this, it’s probably time to look for another candidate.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2008 Bread for the World Offering of Letters

First United Methodist Church in Evanston, IL is getting ready for the 2008 Offering of Letters on Sunday, March 9. It will involve the entire congregation in anti-poverty advocacy! If you're in town, come join us as we get inspired, learn how we can fight global poverty and take action right then and there. We will attend a worship service with messages and music focused on hunger and poverty. Then, immediately afterward, the whole congregation will move to the Great Hall where fresh, homemade bread awaits side-by-side with writing materials for each person to use to urge members of Congress to support specific poverty-fighting legislation.

This is part of Bread for the World's 2008 Offering of Letters which is getting underway across the nation from now until May. It is an advocacy event that combines the letters of hundreds of churches across the US to member of Congress. BFW members educate their congregations about a specific piece of legislation that can affect the lives of poor and hungry people. Then, people gather to write their own personal, handwritten letters to Congress. The effect of so many unique letters hitting Congress at the same time can be extraordinary.

This year, we are pushing for more and better poverty-focused development assistance—funding for programs in the U.S. budget that give people in poor countries the skills and opportunities to break the cycle of poverty permanently. These include long-term investments in things like education, agriculture, nutrition, health and clean water. The "more" part is a 5 billion dollar increase in the 2009 fiscal year. The "better" part is the passage of the Global Poverty Act which will hold the President accountable for coming up with a strategy to support the Millennium Development Goals and better coordinate our existing federal institutions affecting poverty.

For more info about the aims of this year's event or how to hold one of your own, please visit

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

not the congress, not the millionaire...but me!

As I organize details in the last few weeks before the Offering of Letters (Sunday, March 9 for my church), I find myself humming the chorus of Pat Humphries' "Bound for Freedom" quite a bit. Sort of an anthem for personal responsibility and organizing for social justice :)

"Here I go bound for freedom. May my truth take the lead
Not the preacher, not the congress, not the millionaire, but me
I will organize for justice. I will raise my voice in song
And our children will be free to lead the world and carry on"

Monday, February 25, 2008

UN Resolution 55/2

An anonymous commenter brought up an UN resolution that other people might be interested in seeing as well. UN Resolution 55/2 was adopted by the General Assembly of the UN on September 18, 2000. It is chock-full of a lot of stuff, but contains points relevant to the Millennium Development Goals and, consequently, the Global Poverty Act. It also contains language about supporting the Kyoto Protocol and other things.

Here is where you can find it:

People familiar with the MDG's will see some very familiar language here in some of the anti-poverty highlights:
"III. Development and poverty eradication
11. We will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected. We are committed to making the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human race from want.
12. We resolve therefore to create an environment – at the national and global levels alike – which is conducive to development and to the elimination of poverty. "

"19. We resolve further:
•To halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of the world’s people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and, by the same date, to halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water.
•To ensure that, by the same date, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling and that girls and boys will have equal access to all levels of education.
•By the same date, to have reduced maternal mortality by three quarters, and under-five child mortality by two thirds, of their current rates.
•To have, by then, halted, and begun to reverse, the spread of HIV/AIDS, the scourge of malaria and other major diseases that afflict humanity.
•To provide special assistance to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
•By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers as proposed in the “Cities Without Slums” initiative. "

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Just Neighbors" demonstrates tough choices in poverty

"Shoes or food? Poverty forces families to choose." This is the line that greets you at

Just Neighbors is an interactive, educational program that helps participants understand the root causes and tough choices of poverty. I found this info on a blog of one of your fellow APB readers (thanks, cathistegall!). I haven't seen it yet, but I think it looks quite interesting and I'm going to look into getting the materials to evaluate them for next year's programs. They have a 5 min slideshow on their site to tell you more details about it, but these are some of the things you'll see there:
"The mission of Just Neighbors is to raise awareness of the root causes of poverty and homelessness.

Just Neighbors brings to its participants a deep understanding of the reality of poverty and a deep empathy for people living in poverty. Congregations, nonprofit organizations, colleges, universities, and high schools are using the program to change attitudes, to recruit volunteers, and to empower them as advocates for their neighbors in need."

"The entire Just Neighbors experience is designed to foster a sense of community among the participants. It is an engaging, thought-provoking curriculum that offers a wealth of resources and materials along with the flexibility to make the program work in the widest possible range of settings and organizations. "

"We created the Just Neighbors multimedia curriculum to raise awareness of the root causes of poverty and homelessness as the first step in establishing community-based responses. The Just Neighbors program includes nine interactive multi-media sessions. It is designed as a series but has a flexible structure that you can adapt to meet your congregation’s needs and interests. Each session is designed so that a group can complete it in one hour. Depending on your purposes, your group may decide to complete the entire program or any number of individual sessions—even only one. "