Friday, December 11, 2009

Senator Burris on Child Nutrition

Hey, Illinois! Want to know how Senator Burris feels about nutrition for women, children and Infants? This is what he wrote back to me when I asked him to strengthen programs like WIC, Summer Food Service Program, and others in light of the Child Nutrition Act (S. 934) which was extended for 12 months without changes to move us forward in the fight to end childhood hunger.

Want to encourage him to live up to his statement that proper nutrition for our nation’s children is an important priority ? Visit the Greater Chicago Food Depository's site at this link.
Thank you for writing me to share your concerns regarding the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act (S. 934). I appreciate the benefit of your views.

I agree that proper nutrition for our nation’s children is an important priority. The reauthorization of Federal child nutrition programs should remove barriers and improve access to reduce childhood hunger and enhance the nutritional quality and health of the school environment.

The Child Nutrition and Women, Infants and Children Reauthorization Act of 2004, which has been extended temporarily while Congress crafts a new child nutrition package, includes funding for all federal child nutrition programs. Among these programs are the School Breakfast and the National School Lunch Programs, the Summer Food Service Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

I support a full reauthorization of the Act that includes new science-based nutrition standards and also reviews food served in vending machines, school stores, and snack shops. I believe this is a good first step to help all American children stay healthy.

I will continue to listen closely to what you and other Illinoisans have to say about matters before Congress, the concerns of our communities, and the issues facing Illinois and the nation. My job is not about merely supporting or opposing legislation; it is also about bridging the divide that has paralyzed our nation's politics.


Roland W. Burris
United States Senator

Thursday, December 10, 2009

TODAY is Day of Action for Global Education

TODAY is the day to call the White House for Global Education support. This capwiz link should make it very easy and you can let RESULTS know you took the action.

If the link doesn't work, just call 202 456 1414 and ask President Obama to provide $2B for the creation of a Global Fund for Education.

Thank you for taking action to fight poverty today. Feel free to forward this message to others!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sign Petition for Obama to support foreign assistance

If you agree with this statement - "I strongly support U.S. foreign assistance efforts that alleviate poverty, fight disease, and create opportunity in developing countries" - sign Bread for the World's petition to President Obama:

Right now, President Obama and his senior advisors are preparing recommendations that will shape the future of U.S. efforts to alleviate poverty, fight disease, and create economic opportunity for the world’s poorest people.

Please sign the petition launched by Bread and our partners asking the White House to send a strong signal about America’s commitment to development. We need 150,000 signatures by December 17. Add your name today.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Global Education Day of Action, Dec 10

Three Ways to Take Action for a Global Fund for Education!
On December 10, Human Rights Day, the world will focus on making a Global Fund for Education a reality with a Day of Action. RESULTS has been working to assure access to basic education for all children for a long time and the signs of progress are good.

There are several ways you can ask for U.S. leadership on a Global Fund for Education now, on December 10, and afterward.

1. Call the president on December 10
2. Write your congressperson and ask him/her to speak out.
3. Get a letter to the editor published letting your community know that putting kids in school is smart.

Choose one way or many ways to take action, but make your voice heard. Act now and help get 75 million more kids the primary education they need and deserve for a brighter future.


1. Call the President on December 10: President Obama, the Time is Now for a Global Fund for Education!
Forward this action along to schools and other organizations so they are prepared to take action on December 10. We know that school increases income, keeps babies alive, keeps mothers healthy, reduces conflict, reduces HIV/AIDS transmission, empowers women, reduces hunger. What are we waiting for?? Let's thousands of calls to the President that day.

2. Write to Your Members of Congress: Urge Them to Work for Education for All.
Forward this action along too!

3.Write a Letter to the Editor : Create Community Conversation about a Global Fund for Education.
Encourage others to write too.

Go to the RESULTS Education Action pagefor other resources and information to mobilize your community on creating a Global Fund for Education

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day Today

Dec 1 is global AIDS day when we can all take action by advocating in support of global AIDS programs. Here are 2 actions I suggest:

1) CALL your Senators to ask for special attention for programs to prevent mother to child transmission and for at least $7.2 Billion in funding for global AIDS programs.
Make a call (courtesy of World Vision)

2) WRITE to President Obama to ask for full funding for the Global Fund to fight AIDS TB and Malaria
Write a Letter (courtesy of RESULTS)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fighting Terrorism with Schools

Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, is featured in Parade talking about his experiences fighting poverty by building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here's an excerpt...

"Young women are the developing world’s greatest agents of progress. Just one year of schooling will dramatically raise a girl’s later economic prospects, and where girls get to fifth grade, birth rates and infant mortality plunge. Teaching girls to read and write reduces the ignorance and poverty that fuel religious extremism and lays a groundwork for prosperity and peace. In military parlance, educating girls is a “force multiplier.” Thus, the flame that burns at the center of my work, the heat around which I cup my hands, are the stories of girls whose lives have been changed by education. "

Fighting Terrorism With Schools |

Chicago Food Depository reaches new record of demand

Some new data from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, courtesy of the Chicago Trib religion blog at
(The entry also mentions Bread for the World as a way to help feed the hungry)

"Evidence of the problem locally can be found in recent data released by the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The food bank established a new record for demand in September, with 427,660 visits to our member pantries in Cook County. The first three months of the fiscal year are 26 percent ahead of last year’s pace in pantry visits, and 70 percent ahead of the pace of two years ago.

Furthermore, poverty rates for Illinois (12.2 percent), Cook County (14.8 percent) and Chicago (20.6 percent) continue to rise. In Cook County, the unemployment rate of 10.6 percent was four percentage points higher than the same time last year and higher than the national average of 9.8 percent.

The depository has distributed 1.7 million more pounds year to date than last year during a similar period. Distribution of produce also exceeds last year at this time."

Monday, November 23, 2009


Sent to me by a dear friend...

A Prayer for those who have too Much
Sr. Joyce Rupp
Servite Sr. Joyce Rupp wrote this prayer
after visits to Guatemala and Liberia
o my brothers and sisters in developing countries;
While I was deciding which oat bran cereal to eat this morning, you were searching the ground for leftover grains from the passing truck.
While I was jogging at the health center, you were working in the wealthy landowner’s fields under a scorching sun. While I was choosing between diet and regular soda, your parched lips were yearning for the touch of water.
While I complained about the poor service in the gourmet restaurant, your were gratefully receiving a bowl of rice.
While I poured my ‘fresh and better detergent’ in the washing machine, you stood in the river with your bundle of clothes. While I watched the evening news on my wide screen television set, you were terrorized and taunted by a dictatorship government.
While I read the newspaper and drank my cup of steaming coffee, you walked the dusty, hot miles to the tiny, crowded schoolroom to try to learn how to read.
While I scanned the ads for a bargain on an extra piece of clothing, you woke up and put on the same shirt and pants that you have worn for many months.
While I built a 14-room house for the three of us, your family of 10 found shelter in a one-room hut.
While I went to church last Sunday and felt more slightly bored, you looked upon the earth and those around you and felt gratitude to God for being alive for one more day.
My brothers and sisters, forgive me for my arrogance and my indifference.
Forgive me for not doing my part to change the unjust systems that keep you suffering and impoverished.
I offer you my promise to become more aware of your situation and to change my lifestyle as I work for transformation of our world.
(From Xaverian Mission Newsletter)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Jayne Hats for Turkeys

Do you like Joss Whedon, Firefly, and helping hungry people? If you do, then check out this link from a Browncoat (translation: Firefly fan) who is doing her part to help the hungry this Thanksgiving season. If you don't, that's ok! The Jayne Hat contest idea be a little odd to non-Browncoats, but the reason I post it it to say we can all be really creative about how we can, as individuals, help others. What is your passion? What can you make or do well? Can you use that talent to encourage others to donate or volunteer?

Jayne Hats for Turkeys

Thursday, November 19, 2009

MFAN Partners comment on Rajiv Shah appointment

So many of you may know that we now have a USAID administrator named Dr. Rajiv Shah. Want to know what people think about it? Here's a site from the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network that sums up the various positions of prominent anti-poverty organizations including Bread for the World, Oxfam, ONE, etc.

MFAN Partners comment on USAID leadership

Here's what Bread for the World said about it:
"“We are hopeful that Dr. Shah’s unique combination of knowledge about global health, agriculture, and other issues will allow him to provide a strong and indispensable development voice as major decisions are made about U.S. foreign policy,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president, Bread for the World. “Since he has lived in a developing country, he knows first-hand the importance of long-term, sustainable development – in contrast to the State Department’s typically short-term, political approaches."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jessica Alba speaks with Nancy Pelosi about Global Eduation

RESULTS has been touring Jessica Alba around congressional offices this week to talk about the need for Global Eduation. Among her visits was one to see Speaker Nancy Pelosi! Emily's Post on Politics Daily wrote about the event:

Actress Jessica Alba met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Friday morning to talk about the importance of global education. Pelosi then took Alba to a conference room in the speaker's suite to address 18 members of the Democratic Women's Caucus about raising awareness of the issue.

"Jessica spoke very articulately and knowledgably about the need for greater emphasis on education," a House leadership staffer told Politics Daily in an exclusive interview Friday morning.

Alba, 28, the star of movies "Sin City" and "Fantastic Four," has recently become the U.S. co-chair of the group 1GOAL: Education for All, which advocates for the 75 million children worldwide (half in Africa) who are denied access to education.

"It's great to see Jessica Alba bringing her celebrity to promote this important issue of basic education to children in the developing world," said a policy staffer for Speaker Pelosi.

The actress was described by another staffer as "gorgeous," very skinny, with "reddish brown hair and huge lips."

For her meeting on Capitol Hill, Alba wore a black-and-white tweed suit, black tights and black patent leather Mary Jane Chanel heels. She wore her hair down and "very natural makeup." For D.C.'s autumn weather, the actress wore a black overcoat with a ruffle down one side.

Staffers said Alba appeared somewhat awestruck during her visit to the most powerful office in the Capitol. After the policy meetings, she went to the Speaker's Balcony and asked to have her picture taken with a personal camera with the impressive view of the National Mall and the monuments. She also spent time taking pictures with some of the key House staff who work on global education issues.

Pelosi's staffers say Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) has championed the issue of education in the developing world. Over the past several years, Lowey has pushed to increase funding for global education, and in the current House appropriations bill for Foreign Operations, Lowey was able to get $1 billion dollars for education initiatives worldwide.

Washingtonians never cease to be amazed at how much smaller movie stars are in real life. One of the staffers who saw Alba in person describes her as so small that her "whole body is the size of my arm."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bill and Melinda Gates and ONE Webcast

From Melinda Gates...

When I visited Ethiopia earlier this year, I met Tsion, a hard-working young woman in the government’s Health Extension Program. She is trained to tend to pregnant mothers, who otherwise would rely on traditional attendants unable to stop internal bleeding or resuscitate newborns. Tsion has helped take the terror and fear of death out of childbirth for hundreds of women.

As a ONE member, you've worked hard to protect U.S. investments in the world's poorest countries. Now Bill and I need your help to tell Tsion's story, and others—so more Americans realize our tremendous progress improving health around the world and are moved to support America’s continued leadership in global health.

Please join us on Tuesday, October 27, at 7 PM (EST) for a live online presentation titled “Living Proof: Why we are Impatient Optimists.” RSVP to watch:

Through our foundation and visits to the field, Bill and I have been deeply touched by personal stories of lives changed for the better. Thanks to 30,000 trained health extension workers like Tsion, access to health care in rural areas is rapidly expanding. And the health of Ethiopian children and women is improving.

That’s why, when it comes to global health, Bill and I are optimists—but we’re impatient optimists. We need to build on this success now, by expanding it to even more women in Ethiopia and helping families in other countries benefit from what Ethiopia has learned.

Sharing success stories is one of the most important things we can do to motivate and inspire others in the fight against global poverty and disease. Please RSVP to join us for the webcast, learn for yourself how U.S. investments in global health are changing the world, and share the proof with your network:

Thank you,

Melinda French Gates
ONE member

PS. I wrote more about my experiences with Tsion in Ethiopia for the ONE Blog. Read my entry here:

173,045,325 people Stood Up against poverty

From the United Nations Millennium Campaign....
Dear Fellow Campaigners,
Your passion, commitment and determination have once again inspired a global movement which continues to grow beyond all expectations. You stood up in your cities, towns and villages, in your churches, mosques and temples; you stood in your colleges, schools and homes, on town squares and street sidewalks, you stood together as a global community, not only to shatter the Guinness World record but also to send a powerful message to leaders at the local, national and global level which cannot now be ignored:

"We are more determined than ever to see the Millennium Development Goals become a reality and to end poverty now!"

We know from experience that a significant proportion of activities and events do not get registered in time as many of them take place in remote rural locations with limited internet connectivity. Despite these constraints, over 3000 events spread across 121 countries were registered and more information on the scale of this mobilisation continues to flood in through phone calls, text messages and faxes! More details are at the bottom of this email and on the website

On behalf of the United Nations Millennium Campaign ( I want to thank every one of the thousands of organisers across the world at the local and national levels - social movements, faith groups, NGOs, youth organisations, women's groups, trade unions, civil society coalitions campaigning for the MDGs, local and national governments and the even larger number of volunteers, local groups and individual citizens who made this year's Stand Up and Take Action a resounding success.

We also want to thank the UN system at all levels as well as many of our global partners including the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, Art of Living Foundation, Micah Challenge, Skype, UStream, the ONE Campaign, major media partners at the global and national levels and so many others who played a pivotal role in this unprecedented mobilisation.

Together we have the power to make a difference ...

Now in its fourth year, we have seen the impact that Stand Up is making in people's lives and improving the MDG policies and practises of governments. Providing the space and platforms for ordinary citizens to have their voices heard on issues that matter to them at the national and local level. In both rich and poor countries, citizens have come together, to put the priorities of the poor and excluded groups, firmly on the political agenda and get their own governments to address them. Once again an overwhelming majority of the people who stood up were from poor countries. And as their voices grow louder, they can no longer be ignored. The sharp focus on women's rights, hunger and maternal health (in poor countries) and the elimination of trade-distorting agricultural subsidies (in rich countries) and the specific targeting of Parliamentarians made the Stand Up 2009 messaging more impactful. An outstanding example was the leadership of the Speaker of the All-Party Parliamentary Group in Bangladesh which mobilised citizens in large numbers and joined the Prime Minister in taking an oath to achieve the MDGs by 2015.

We will continue to Stand Up every day until promises to end poverty and achieve the Millennium Goals are delivered ...

Next year in September, world leaders will gather at the UN to review progress on the MDGs. With the strength of over 173 million people telling their leaders that their commitments are being closely monitored, we will take this commitment to those decision makers with renewed energy to convert the strength of these numbers into concrete policy and practice changes in our own local and national contexts. We challenge Heads of State to come to the 2010 MDG Review Summit not just with generalised statements of intent but concrete national action plans for MDG implementation that are focussed on the rights of the poor and excluded, particularly women, to meet the 2015 deadline.

To us, Stand Up once again showed the power of the MDGs in really unifying the different parts of the UN for one common cause and the extent to which the MDGs and the UN system enjoy the confidence of the public at large.

Warmest wishes and once again congratulations on this massive show of people power against poverty and inequality. I hope you will closely follow up with all the partners, organisations and individuals that you helped to mobilise and inspire them further to join our on-going campaign for the MDGs from now to 2015.

Warmest wishes

Salil Shetty


Millennium Campaign

United Nations

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

1 GOAL: new "education for all" campaign


This World Cup, we’re asking fans to sign up to give 75 million children a fair chance in life. Education beats Poverty – and gives people the tools to help themselves.

Global football stars, the football world and its governing body, FIFA, are behind 1GOAL. This World Cup is a moment for us to shine – let’s leave a legacy of education. We don’t want your money – we just want you on our team. Write Your Name for those who can’t.

1 GOAL is an ambitious and important campaign that will change the lives of children living in poverty by helping to give them an education. We’re campaigning in over 200 countries from now until the FIFA World Cup final in South Africa in 2010.

1 GOAL is quite simply a global team that will voice our wishes to world leaders to keep their promise of giving everyone an education by 2015.


Today, 75 million children are denied the chance to go to school. These children could be the next generation's leaders, sport stars, doctors and teachers. Unable to read or write, they face a lifetime of poverty. It doesn’t have to be this way.

We’ve already seen success—we’ve been able to help 40 million more children get into school and live more productive, healthy lives. We have a plan, we know how to beat this—all we need now is the will to make it happen. If we come together around this World Cup, we can do even more and reach our 1 GOAL: Education for all.

Click here for more info and to join 1 Goal.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Social Justice for Social Moms- group

Move over facebook, the new word in social networking seems to be "ning"! A new site has popped up on ning which is aimed at engaging moms- who often feel isolated and mired in routine- in taking action to change the world for themselves and their children. Here are a couple of excerpts from the site:

"Join with other moms as we empower ourselves and our kids to take action on social justice issues like poverty, sustainability and peace."

"This is a space for moms who want to:
- connect with other moms in meaningful dialogue beyond every day routine of kids/work/school
- engage in productive activities that cultivate generous hearts
- develop skills to advocate for issues important to them"

The site is a place to have online discussions and live-chat with other moms who are in the mood to talk about social justice issues. You can see videos on related topics, go to websites of orgs to help you take action, and read blogs about how have Social Justice for Social Moms meetings with your own playgroup!

Click here for Social Justice for Social Moms

Thursday, September 24, 2009

So if you've got a dream and a lot to do....

What I'm listening to. So appropriate for Stand Up, Speak Out next month...

Stand up
We shall not be moved
Except By a child with no socks and shoes
If you've got more to give then you've got to prove
Put your hands up and I'll copy you
Stand up We shall not be moved
Except by a woman dying from a loss of food
If you've got more to give then you've got to prove
Put your hands up and I'll copy you

We still don't understand thunder and lightning
Flash back to when we didn't fund the dam
Didn't fund the dam levee? No wonder man
Now our whole damn city's torn asunder man
Under water but we still don't understand
We see hurricane spills overrun the land
Through gaps you couldn't fill with a 100 tons of sand
No we still don't understand
We've seen planes in the windows of buildings crumbled in
We've seen flames send the chills through London
And we've sent planes to kill them and some of them were children
But still we crumbling the building
Underfunded but we still don't understand
Under God but we kill like the son of Sam
But if you feel like I feel like about the son of man
We will overcome

So Stand up
We shall not be moved
Except By a child with no socks and shoes
If you've got more to give then you've got to prove
Put your hands up and I'll copy you
Stand up We shall not be moved
Except by a woman dying from a loss of food
If you've got more to give then you've got to prove
Put your hands up and I'll copy you

I said Put your hands up and I'll copy you
Put your hands up and I'll copy you
If you've got more to give then you've got to prove
Put your hands up and I'll copy you

We shall not be moved
Except By a child with no socks and shoes
Except by a woman dying from a loss of food
Except by a freedom fighter bleeding on a cross for you
We shall not be moved
Except by a system thats rotten through
Neglecting the victims and ordering the cops to shoot
High treason now we need to prosecute

So Stand up
We shall not be moved
And we won't fight a war for fossil fuel
Its times like this that you want to plot a coup
Put your hands up and I'll copy you
So Stand up
We shall not be moved
Unless were taking a route we have not pursued
So if you've got a dream and a lot to do
Put your hands up and I'll copy you

I said Put your hands up and I'll copy you
Put your hands up and I'll copy you
if you've got a dream and a lot to do
Put your hands up

Now shake, shake
A Polaroid dream
nightmare negatives develop on the screen
We sit back and wait for the government team
Criticize they but who the fuck are we
The people want peace but the leaders want war
Our neighbors don't speak, peek through the front door
House representatives preach "stay the course"
Time for a leap of faith
Once More

Put your hands up high if you haven't abandoned
Hope that the pen strokes stronger than the cannon
Balls to the wall, Nose to the grindstone
My interrogation techniques leave your mind blown
So Place your bets lets speak to the enemy
Don't let em pretend that we seek blood
And who's we anyways Kemo Sabe?
Mighty warlord wanna-be street thug
a threat for a threat leaves the whole world terrified
blow for blow never settles the score
word for word is time need clarify
We the people did not want war

So Stand up
We shall not be moved
Except By a child with no socks and shoes
If you've got more to give then you've got to prove
Put your hands up and I'll copy you
Unless were taking a route we have not pursued
So if you've got a dream and a lot to do
Put your hands up and I'll copy you

I said Put your hands up and I'll copy you
Put your hands up and I'll copy you
if you've got a dream and a lot to do
Put your hands up
[ Stand Up Lyrics on ]

Monday, September 21, 2009

Foreign Assistance Call-in Event: S. 1524

An immediate call-in action From Bread for the World. NOTE: Sens Durbin and Burris are not yet co-sponsors!
We need 25 senators to cosponsor S. 1524, the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act, when the Senate begins discussing it on September 22.

Please call your senators at 1-800-826-3688 before Tuesday, September 22, and urge him/her to cosponsor S. 1524.

S. 1524 is a bipartisan bill which lays out several initial and important reforms of the U.S. foreign assistance system. If your senator is not a cosponsor please ask for cosponsorship. If your senator is already a cosponsor, please call and thank him/her for supporting this important legislation.

S. 1524 was introduced in August by John Kerry (D-MA), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Richard Lugar (R-IN), ranking member, along with Bob Corker (R-TN), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Jim Risch (R-ID). We need to have at least 25 cosponsors when they meet on Sept. 22. Currently, the bill has 10 cosponsors.

S. 1524 complements H.R. 2139, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act, introduced in the House in April. (Thanks to your support, we now have more than 100 cosponsors for the House bill). These two bills are key to the success of our 2009 Offering of Letters which urges Congress and the administration to reform U.S. foreign assistance.

While not identical, the Senate and House bills would begin the reform process. S. 1524 will strengthen the badly decimated U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and make all our foreign aid programs more accountable and transparent.

Message and Key Points:

Your main message should be: Please cosponsor S. 1524, the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act.

You can explain your message further by adding either or both of these points:

-S. 1524 is a strong building block to make our nation’s foreign assistance more effective and accountable. We need you to cosponsor the bill.
-S. 1524 focuses on rebuilding the policy, planning, and evaluation capacity of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID.) It stresses that U.S. policy should be to promote global development, good governance, and the reduction of poverty and hunger.

For more info, visit Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Global vs. Domestic Poverty...Is it really "us" or "them"?

Sometimes I get a blog comment that really needs to come out to be it's own post. I got a very sincere comment from a reader who is troubled about domestic poverty and is concerned that efforts to combat global poverty are detracting from efforts to help U.S. citizens. I invite you to read her thoughtful comment and my response below because it is a very common conversation. No matter how you feel about this, please get involved and be engaged in the fight against whatever type of poverty inflames your passion!

“I think it's fantastic that these people want to help end hunger and poverty around the world. But there is one thing that has always bothered me...

So many organizations based in the US work so hard to aid other countries with their poverty. What I see is all the homeless and poverty stricken Americans that need that aid just as much. 

I feel that we as Americans can provide so much more support to other countries if we ensure that our own citizens are healthy, happy, and well cared for first. If we could provide for all the American's in need, our economy and general moral would be so much higher. Thus, making America in a better position to provide for other countries.

 I'm sorry, but I feel like we should take care of ourselves first and foremost... to be stronger for the struggles ahead.” –Jessica

Thank you for sharing your feelings, Jessica. You’re not alone in your opinion. I offer a few thoughts to consider.

Advocacy organizations like Bread for the World and RESULTS agree with you in that we cannot ignore the suffering in our own country. Bread runs a domestic hunger campaign approximately every other year (past US campaigns have been for food stamps & year's will be focused on US poverty as well). RESULTS also has groups of volunteers with domestic focus that did considerable work to develop our Head Start program (most of them are working on health care now) in addition to groups working on global issues. 

Where Bread and RESULTS disagree with you is the notion that this is an either/or them OR help us. We invest only 0.17% of our national budget on international poverty reduction. Considering how many times our military must intervene in countries destabilized by destitute poverty (costing us money and - worse- lives), the savings and benefits to our citizens for eradicating extreme poverty is enormous.

Also, please consider that global health is a local issue. We have all but wiped out tuberculosis here, but because the world hasn't addressed it globally, Multi Drug Resistant TB developed in poverty hotspots and now is showing up in our borders because it's an airborne disease only a plane ride away. 

Lastly, I encourage you to consider the relative scale of poverty. When we speak of poverty in the U.S., it doesn't really come close to the World Bank's definition of extreme on less than $1.25 a day. Generally, even the poorest Americans have access to clean water through public drinking fountains.

I thank you for your comment and encourage you to take your passion for helping those in need to a level of advocacy. Visit Bread at or RESULTS at to get connected and engaged!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bread for the World on CBS, Sept 27

Mark your calendars for Sept 27. CBS will air a special featuring Bread for the World - "Religion, Politics, and Advocacy"

“Religion, Politics, and Advocacy” is a 30-minute inter-faith special produced by CBS Television. It will air on Sunday, Sept. 27 nationally. Please check your local CBS affiliate for exact air times.

The program follows "citizen advocates" who participate in the Bread for the World's annual Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. This is a Christian advocacy organization, whose mission is to end hunger and poverty throughout the world. We hear from the group's founder and president emeritus, Arthur Simon, and current president, Rev. David Beckmann, as well.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Partnering with the Bottom Billion" Workshop Oct 3

Dear fellow Chicagoland activists:

I'd like to invite you all to an upcoming workshop in Evanston called "Partnering with the Bottom Billion: Seeking Justice in a World in Crisis" on Sat, Oct 3 from 9AM-2PM. It will feature guest speaker, Jim Winkler from the United Methodist Global Board of Church and Society, who will help us focus on people living in extreme poverty as we explore core issues of Peace, Sustainability and Poverty.

The event will also present an advocacy training session. La Vida Davis of Bread for the World staff will teach beginning activists how to write effective letters to elected officials and take the mystery out of phoning a congressional office for a "call-in" event. If you've already mastered those skills, RESULTS will lead the more experienced activists to help you explore the next levels...writing a letter-to-the-editor, asking a question at a town hall meeting, responding to a blog, face-to-face meetings, or whatever else you want to know!

I invite you all to come and be a part of this wonderful, new event! There will be a Methodist perspective presented in some of the sessions, but we are mainly talking about issues affecting people in extreme poverty in an advocacy-focused, non-partisan way. Please also invite your friends who are interested in our issues! More details will follow as materials come out.

What: Workshop called "Partnering with the Bottom Billion: Seeking Justice in a World in Crisis"
Who: First United Methodist Church and YOU!
When: Saturday, Oct 3 from 9AM-2PM
Where: First United Methodist Church of Evanston, 516 Church Street
Price: $12 per person by Sept 21 ($15 after that date) to cover cost of lunch

You'll soon be able to register online at (click on "The Latest") or call the church ofice at 847-864-6181.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

African Trade, Aid and the Church (Lawrence Temfwe)

An opinion about trade and aid from Lawrence Temfwe of Zambia who was recently in Chicago attending the Willow Creek Leadership Summit...

Giving aid to Africa to rebuild viable economy is not the answer to Africa’s poverty solution but fair trade said Andrew Rugasira a Ugandan coffee entrepreneur recently at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Micah Challenge a world wide Christian movement against poverty of which I am passionately involved would not agree any less. Since its inception several years ago Micah Challenge has been engaging the opinion in the G8 that stop the developing world to add value to their raw products before they export them. Micah Challenge has also been engaging the developing world to address the social, economic and political systems that they inherited from the colonial practices of the Europeans that are designed to keep Africans in poverty.

As I see it, wealth creation in Africa has three major obstacles. First is the need for the G8 and China to open up their market to African products that are value added. For example Africa must add value to its copper and coffee before it is exported. Also market access must be improved, especially to the G8 countries. The second is the most critical. African political leaders have continued to sustain the colonial economic and social models that make it easy for developed countries to import raw materials at a song. Most of these contracts are done corruptly and for the purpose of enriching government leaders and their families. Our political leaders have adopted the same unjust privileges and enjoy the same perks as those our colonial leaders enjoyed. We need servant leaders. Thirdly, Africa continues to lose the best of its educated people to Europe because our system rarely rewards ingenuity or innovation. As a result the African men and women whom God has endowed with abilities to help save their people from poverty, disease and premature deaths are working in Europe and North America, where their work is acknowledged, appreciated and rewarded and because their children have same opportunities as those of government leaders.

The church remains the greatest hope for Africa’s economic transformation. The upswing of concern by Christians all over the world to help people living in poverty is the reason for this hope. However, this concern must be rooted in fuller understanding of why Christ Jesus came. Jesus mission was to put in right relationships with all He created through preaching the good news in word and deeds (Luke 9.2). The message of the Kingdom of God was to be communicated in word and deed. In Acts we read that in the church, “There was no needy person amongst them.” True Christianity defends the cause of the poor, the fatherless and the widow especially when there are acts of injustices against them. A complete understanding of Jesus mission puts the church at the helm of fighting poverty. A lesser understanding makes it to be self-righteous and arrogant and a god instead of being a servant. Hope for the poor lies in people whom God has put His Spirit, “… He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth.” (Isaiah 42:1-4). God is inviting you to his work among people living in poverty. Have you responded?

Lawrence Temfwe

Thursday, August 6, 2009

2009 Millennium Development Goals report

From the United Nations Millennium Campaign:

The 2009 MDG Report, leading into the 2010 MDG review conference that represents the last major recommitment before 2015, is both promising and disturbing. Actual progress has been made, but the economic crisis is cutting severely into those gains, and, at this pace, the world will fall far short of achieving the Goals.

Overall, the number of people living in poverty (under $1.25 a day) had dropped by 400 million from 1990 to 2005 (1.4 billion) despite the growth in world population, an astounding number that, on its own, is proof that the Goals are achievable. However, the economic crisis chiseled away at that progress, and 90 million more people are expected to be added back to those rolls this year. Success in reducing hunger worldwide is likewise being reversed.

That news was delivered to the Hill last week at a well-attended briefing helmed by Anita Sharma, North American Coordinator of the Millennium Campaign, Francesca Perucci from UN Stats, and Dan Carucci, Vice President for Global Health at UNF.

Carucci delivered good news on Goal 4. Deaths of children under the age of five dropped from 12.6 million a year in 1990 to 9 million a year in 2007. He specifically pointed out the dramatic surge in the delivery of bed-nets to combat malaria in Africa and the success of measles vaccination programs. The world is also nearing the goal of universal enrollment in primary education , particulary in southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where enrollment increased by 11 and 15 percent respectively between 2000 and 2007.

On every other mark though, we're far behind pace. The most stark reminder came from Carucci: "in 2000 500,000 women died while giving birht, 500,000 died in 2005, and 500,000 will die this year." That is to say, there has been zero progress on Goal 5, reducing the maternal mortality rate by 75 percent.

The report overall is fascinating. It's rare that you get an engaging accessment of how the entire world is working toward achieving collective goals. I highly recommend at least skimming the whole thing (pdf). Here is a link to the report in pdf form:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Professor Muhammad Yunus Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

From the Grameen Foundation...
I am delighted to announce that Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of Grameen Bank and member emeritus of Grameen Foundation’s board of directors, has been awarded a 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dr. Yunus will receive his medal from President Barack Obama at a special White House ceremony on August 12.
I worked with Dr. Yunus for six years in Bangladesh prior to establishing Grameen Foundation with his support in 1997, and I am delighted that he is being honored for his tremendous work on behalf of poor people worldwide. While living there, I saw Professor Yunus’ humble leadership and pathbreaking ideas changing lives and motivating people at all levels of society to envision and work towards a poverty-free Bangladesh. Today, it is a completely different country than when I first arrived there in 1988, and his work has been at the center of those positive changes.
Ultimately, it is his unwavering belief in the power of even the poorest person in a society—whether they live in a rural Asian village or an urban slum in Africa, Latin America or even the United States—to help themselves that inspires all of us here at Grameen Foundation each and every day.
President Obama captured these sentiments wonderfully in his announcement of the awards, saying, "Each [recipient] saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way.“
I am deeply honored that Dr. Yunus has invited me to join him and others at the ceremony and look forward to sharing that experience with all of you.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is this nation’s highest civilian honor and recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the United States, world peace and culture. When Dr. Yunus receives his award, he will be joining a distinguished group of individuals that includes Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Please join us in sending congratulations to Dr. Yunus by clicking here. We will present all these congratulatory notes to him on August 13, the day after the awards ceremony.


Alex Counts
President & CEO
Grameen Foundation

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Foreign Aid Reform Introduced in the Senate

Bread for the World Urges Senators To Pass Initial Aid Reform Bill

Washington, DC, July 28, 2009—Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann urged members of the Senate to promptly pass a bill introduced today aimed at revitalizing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The bipartisan bill -- the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S.1524) -- was introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN), and Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Corker (R-TN), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jim Risch (R-ID).

“Revitalizing USAID is crucial to the overall reform of U.S. foreign assistance,” said Rev. Beckmann. “If the Obama Administration and Congress improve the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, our dollars will do more good for decades to come.”

USAID was created to lead U.S. development efforts and was once the premier development agency in the world. However, after years of benign neglect and proliferating aid programs across the U.S. government, USAID has lost much of its professional capacity, expertise and authority.

The bill includes a formal statement that it is U.S. policy to promote global development, good governance, and the reduction of poverty and hunger. It contains provisions for restoring planning, policy, and evaluation capacities to USAID. It also lays out new transparency measures for U.S. foreign assistance.

Rev. Beckmann, who is also co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Aid Network, called for the immediate appointment of an administrator for USAID. He said that an administrator should be in place to provide a development perspective as the State Department institutes a quadrennial review and develops a blueprint for U.S. diplomatic and development efforts.

He cautioned that without a USAID administrator, the State Department’s review has the potential to blur the important distinction between diplomacy and development. “When we try to achieve development and diplomatic goals with the same dollars, aid is usually much less effective in reducing poverty,” said Rev. Beckmann.

The Senate bill introduced today complements the efforts of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA-28) and his initial aid reform bill, H.R. 2139, which currently has 91 bipartisan cosponsors.

Rev. Beckmann added that the White House, the State Department, and USAID should work closely with the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in order to coordinate foreign aid reform efforts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Girl Effect

"Imagine a girl in poverty. Go ahead, imagine her..."

This short text driven movie helps illustrate how girls in poverty, when given an opportunity, can change the world. Take a look...

The Girl Effect

...and consider these important facts:

- When a girl in the developing world receives 7 or more years of education, she marries 4 years later and has 2.2 fewer children
-Educated girls grow into educated women who have healthier babies and are more likely to educate their own kids
-When women earnn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their famillies as compared to only 30 to 40% for a man
-An extra year of primary school boosts girls' future wages by 10-20%
-An extra year of secondary schoo; boosts girls' future wages by 15-25%

Please visit this website for more important facts and actions to help you improve the health, education and the very lives of girls around the world!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

“Let's Talk Bread” Group—Evanston, IL July 28

"Let’s Talk Bread" is a group of Chicago-area people, who are interested in exploring the connections between faith and public policy. Through lively, monthly conversations—whether discussing a book, article or current event— we hope to better understand the problems of poverty and hunger and shed light on possible solutions.

This month we will be meeting in Evanston and discussing a book by Peter Singer that examines poverty, foreign aid, social justice and giving: The Life You Can Save. All are welcome, even if you haven’t read the book. If you are unable to read the book, check out a helpful review at this New York Times link. From that page, you can also read part of the first chapter. Along with the discussion, we will briefly share some of our recent lobby experiences in Washington, D.C., and hear an update on Bread’s current campaign to reform U.S. foreign aid.

Please join the conversation at 7:30 p.m. on Tues., July 28, at First United Methodist Church, 516 Church St., Evanston, IL (at Church and Hinman). Use the Church St. entrance.

If you have any questions, please contact the Chicago regional Bread office at 1-800-447-0239 or

Friday, July 10, 2009

IL Social Services 100% budget...act BEFORE July 14!!

From Ounce of Prevention, a group which provides direct services, research and advocacy on behalf of children in poverty in IL.

"On July 1, the General Assembly failed to pass a tax increase needed to avoid disastrous cuts and adequately fund human services and education for young children. Governor Quinn later vetoed the “50% lump sum budget” and another budget bill to fund general state operations, forcing budget negotiations to continue.
The General Assembly will return July 14 to Springfield. We anticipate that they will attempt to override the governor’s veto of the budget bills and hope they will continue to discuss revenue options, including the income tax. One income tax option is HB174 which was endorsed by the governor, passed by the Senate, and approved by a committee of the House. This bill provides a blueprint for a fair, equitable and permanent solution to avert further budget disaster and restore responsibility to government.

Now is the most crucial time for you to take action! We must urge legislators to accept the governor’s veto and craft a new budget that is fair, responsible, and balanced. If they do not do this, the total meltdown of critical services for the most vulnerable children and families will only worsen."

Advocate Now!

The site will give you:
- Talking points (it will tell you exactly what bills and motions to ask them to oppose or support to get the 100% budget)
- Who your state members of Congress are
- Contact info for them and the opportunity to log your call with Ounce of Prevention (so they can say "Listen, we know exactly how many of your constituents called you to support this! Don't pretend they don't care!!")
- An email tool to send it directly to their offices for you

Even though Ounce of Prevention is about kid's issues, feel free to include your concerns about seniors, too. This is a platform for you to say whatever you want. Don't be scared to call. A call carries more weight than an email. They will not challenge you or grill you. Thank you for caring enough to act!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What I needed to learn to change the world

For those of you wondering what the heck RESULTS is, this org I've been working for....this is a wonderful summation of what it's all about. It's written by Steve "The Hookman" Valk, one of my RESULTS partners that lives in GA. -ccyl
What I needed to learn to change the world
by Steve Valk

This Tuesday will find me on Capitol Hill once again, talking to members of Congress or their aides about what we can do to end extreme poverty in our world. I’ve been doing this nearly every summer since the 1980s as a volunteer with RESULTS, a little-known but highly effective advocacy organization. Many might see my quest as an exercise in futility and me a latter-day Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

But I know better.

I first got involved with RESULTS at a time in my life when I was an angry young man who was on his way to becoming an angry middle-aged man, leading eventually to being an angry old man. I was angry about the great injustices and problems of the world and at the people who had the power to fix things but didn’t.

A young woman who would later become my wife introduced me to RESULTS. I didn’t think much about it when she tried to explain it – something about creating the political will to end hunger. I said I was glad there were people like her doing that, all the while thinking I couldn’t waste my time on something so hopeless and destined for failure. Six months later, my curiosity overcame my resistance, and I went to a meeting.

It was a conference call where we listened by speaker box to a former substitute music teacher and founder of RESULTS named Sam Harris. Hundreds of volunteers across the country were connected. At the end of the call, there was roll call for all the groups to announce how many were in the room and how many letters they would write to their representatives or how many newspapers they would call to pitch an editorial. Listening to all the cities – from Miami to San Francisco -- announce their numbers, it suddenly struck me that I was not alone. There were others like me, a conspiracy, if you will, to make the world a better place. I thought: “This might actually work.”

My newfound faith in my ability to change things was quickly tested.

In January of 1985, as famine threatened the lives of millions in Ethiopia (Remember “We Are the World”?), an emergency spending bill was introduced to provide food aid. We managed to get a meeting with a newly elected member of Congress, a conservative Republican named Pat Swindall. We asked him to support the emergency appropriation. We were dumbstruck by his response:

“I don’t think the government should be doing this sort of thing. This is something that the churches and private groups should do.”

He was unmoved by our protestations that churches and non-governmental organizations couldn’t match the resources the U.S. government could provide and that millions would perish if we failed to act.

True to his word, when the bill reached the House floor, Pat not only voted against it (one of only 15 to vote nay), he made a speech on the floor about why he opposed it. We hung our heads in shame that Pat Swindall was our representative. My first exercise in citizen lobbying was a dismal failure.

A few weeks later, Sam Harris called to check in with our group. We told him about our disappointing effort with Pat Swindall. My feeling was that if the guy wouldn’t vote for famine relief, there was little point in talking to him about anything else. Best we could hope for was that somebody else would get elected to his seat two years later.

“Well, yeah, you could do that,” Sam said, “but in the meantime there’s 40,000 children dying in the world each day from preventable causes. Are you sure you want to wait that long?”

“I get your point,” I said. “So what can we do?”

Sam said there was a group in Texas struggling with a similar situation. They had written a prayer for their congressman designed to change their view of him from one of contempt and resignation to one of respect and optimism, to see him as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. We adapted the prayer for our own use and recited it aloud when we were together.

At first, we didn’t sound very convincing, especially when we got to the end: “Help us to find the next expression of love for Pat.” There was an unspoken but palpable “yeah, right” the first couple of times we said the prayer. But the more we said it, the more we came to believe it, and eventually our view of him shifted. It was time to see him again.

Every month or so, Swindall would show up at a public place – a book store or hardware store – to talk to constituents. These small, informal gatherings were dubbed “Chat With Pat,” but they often turned into “Spat With Pat.” Folks would introduce themselves and speak their minds for a couple of minutes, some of them getting very confrontational with Pat about something he’d said or done, voices raised and fingers wagging. These exchanges agitated Pat and put him on the defensive, and he gave as good as he got. These folks clearly had something to get off their chest, which they succeeded in doing. But ten minutes later when they walked out the door, the question had to pop into their head: “What, exactly, did I accomplish in there?”

When Pat would come around to us, our hand was extended, and we greeted him with a smile instead of a scowl. We thanked him for taking the time to make himself available. We could see by his expression and body language that he was much more at ease. He was also ready to listen intently.

Our mission was to simply educate him on issues (a request would come later). We did this through a technique in RESULTS called the “laser talk,” which relates an issue in one to two minutes, making it clear, concise and compelling. We started telling him about a Bangladeshi economist named Muhammad Yunus who was making small loans to destitute women so they could start small businesses and lift themselves out of poverty. He loved the concept. We shared more about it each time we saw him.

Early in 1987, RESULTS helped draft and introduce the first microcredit legislation considered by Congress. Called The Self-Sufficiency for the Poor Act, the bill authorized funding within the foreign aid bill for micro-lending programs throughout the world such as the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Generating the political will for this required a great number of co-sponsors. It was time for an office appointment with Pat Swindall.

As the four of us prepped for our meeting, I turned to my wife and said, “I’ve got a feeling he’s going to say yes to co-sponsoring this bill, and when he does, I’m going to ask if he’ll do a piece for one of the papers about why he’s supporting this.”

“I don’t know,” Sara said. “You might be pushing your luck with that.”

“There’s nothing to lose. I’m going to ask him.”

We poured into Pat’s office, hauling in a TV and VCR with us. Our mood and our attitude had changed remarkably since that first office meeting in 1985. We knew in our hearts that Pat didn’t want to see people suffer and die needlessly any more than we did. We had a powerful solution to offer, and he was in a position to move that solution forward. We all spoke our laser talks flawlessly, and when it came time to watch the video, Pat sat on his desk, knees propped under his chin. When the video was over, I made the pitch for our request, finishing with the big question:

“Pat, will you co-sponsor the Self-Sufficiency for the Poor Act?”

There was no “I’ll have to take a closer look at the bill” or “Let me see who else is supporting this” or any of a number of things a congressman might say to wiggle out of making a commitment.

“I’d be delighted to co-sponsor this bill,” he said without a second’s hesitation.

It was all we could do to keep from jumping out of our chairs. Two years ago he had voted against famine aid. Now Pat Swindall was co-sponsoring the first microcredit bill.

With my head swimming, I struggled to gather my thoughts and make the second request, the one about publishing a column on his support for the bill. As the words were forming in my mouth, he beat me to the punch.

“You know, this is the kind of thing the public should really know about. Tell you what. I’ve got a column that runs in the DeKalb News-Sun every couple of weeks. Do you think you could write something up about this and give it to my staff to look over and then submit as my column?”

I turned to my wife with a grin so wide it hurt. Then I turned to the congressman.

“Pat, that’s a great idea. I think we can do that.”

My feet never touched the ground from Pat’s office to the car. I was now ghostwriting for a member of Congress who, two years prior, had voted against aid to keep people from starving. My view of the world was forever altered. It was no longer a world of us versus them, of good guys versus bad guys (bad guys being people who didn’t share my views). It was now a world of greater possibility.

The Self-Sufficiency for the Poor Act garnered more than 100 co-sponsors. The bill never came up for a vote, but because of all the support it generated, money was set aside in the foreign aid appropriations bill for microcredit programs. The United States quickly became the leader in funding micro-lending programs around the world, with billions now invested in this innovative strategy.

Ten years after this legislation was introduced, the first Microcredit Summit was held in Washington, DC, where 2,900 participants committed to extending microcredit to 100 million of the world’s poorest families. Ten years later, that goal was achieved, and Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for providing loans to the poor.

So much for windmills. These are real people being given ladders to climb out of life-crushing poverty. And I’ve had a hand in making that happen.

So on Tuesday I will walk up to the Hill again and sit down with people who don’t share my party affiliation. And with a gleam in my eye I’ll look at them and, in so many words say, “Let’s talk about what we can do to change the world today.”

For some, being right is all that matters. Me? I’d rather make a difference.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bringing Kids to Lobby

I have so many cool stories from my recent trip to DC with my RESULTS group I hardly know where to begin. But, as always, when I don't know what to talk about...I talk about my kids or something they've done. :)

One of the most interesting successes of our group lobby visits on the Hill this year was our new tactic of bringing the voices of children into our visits. We didn’t literally have them with us, but with a little prep work at home we were able to help kids have a powerful impact in our message to promote Global Education.

Global Education is an easy topic for kids to connect with, so I held a letter-writing party for neighborhood moms who brought their children to write with them. We read the story of “One Hen” by Katie Smith Milway together. It’s a true story about a boy who used a microcredit loan to buy one hen, which begins his family’s path out of poverty. (Since they eventually pay school fees with it and use the proceeds of a chicken farm to send him to college, it’s a Global Ed story, too). Then, the moms and kids wrote letters for our meetings. Our local media was also invited to the party which resulted in a front page story about our lobby visits with two large color pictures of our kids busily writing the very letters we’d deliver in person on Lobby Day. In addition, another group member had her high school kids send letters with their opinions, too. Every time we brought out that front-page picture, and especially if we had kid letters with it, it brought the meeting to a halt in a very good way. Studious expressions turned to smiles, our group was complimented for our initiative, the cute kids were ooh-ed and aah-ed over.

As an example of how much children can help us, I offer a story from Senator Burris’ office. After discussing Global Education – complete with our media, kid-letters, a story about Julia and her “Journey with an Afghan School” project – I wrapped up by saying that if Julia could accomplish all she had at her own personal risk and expense, surely the U.S. could step up and do more. He then told us a story from a meeting with Bread for the World that took place week prior to our visit. Bread activists had brought 8-year-old girl Adrienne along with them. She told her personal story of selling pencils in her class and raising $900 for an international development project. With her feet swinging, not even able to reach the floor, she ended by telling him that if she could do that, she thought the American government could do more, too. It obviously made a big impression on him as he repeated the story with the comment directed toward both Bread and RESULTS, “You guys are really good at this!” He then asked if the kids’ addresses were all included because he really wanted to make sure that they each got a response.

For the RESULTS parents out there, I’d like to say this…sometimes it seems like it’s hard to merge our worlds of highly intellectual lobbying and highly emotional caretaking. Yet I urge you to find creative ways to blend the two. Our lobbying needs more emotion, personal connection and icebreakers in general. Kid-letters and media with children featured is a great way to do this. We only had actual kid-generated letters to deliver for two of our meetings. For every other meeting, I showed our front-page picture, which helped, but I wished I had more of those letters to hand out. For next year, I can only say this…we’re gonna need some more kids!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

2009 Bread Lobby Day a success

I couldn't attend Bread for the World's Lobby Day in Washington, DC to lobby for Foreign Assistance Reform, but many of my colleagues did. Sounds like it was a great success. I, myself, followed up a week later with the RESULTS group (more on that later!)...but I did keep my Bread hat on and made sure we talked about Foreign Aid as well to reinforce the message! Here's a Bread update about it... -ccyl


Foreign Assistance Reform

Lobby Day 2009, held June 16, was an enormous success! Some 320 participants from 38 states held more than 180 meetings with members of Congress or their staff.
By the end of the week, 11 more members of Congress cosponsored H.R. 2139, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009. The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), received more than 25 phone calls from other congressional offices asking for more information.
As of yesterday, H.R. 2139 had 46 cosponsors. More are set to cosponsor as a result of Lobby Day and your calls and letters.
We are preparing for the introduction of an initial foreign assistance reform bill in the Senate within the next few weeks.
Thank you to all who attended, and also to all who could not attend Lobby Day but phoned their representatives about H.R. 2139.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Education is Basic Right for All Children

Printed in the Morton Grove Champion, June 11 2009
Education is Basic Right for All Children

School’s out for summer vacation and some of us parents are wondering what to do with kids at home all day. For many families, lack of school means squabbling siblings and child-care hassles until camp starts. But what would it mean if there were no school – ever? That’s the reality for the families of over 75 million children around the world without access to basic primary education.

As the economic crisis continues, children in extreme poverty continue to be its biggest victims as they are forced to leave school to work, care for siblings, join armies, or even be sold into slavery. Yet education is the single, most effective intervention to help them lead productive, healthy, and safe lives. Without decisive leadership to achieve Education for All, these kids will remain trapped in poverty without education. Progress made since 2000 to increase school enrollment could be reversed.

While campaigning, President Obama pledged $2 billion toward a Global Fund for Education. By eliminating school fees, improving teacher quality, and providing textbooks and other incentives to keep kids in school, the U.S. can literally change the future of an entire generation at risk. For that, $2 billion is a bargain. Plus, we would get the added value of international goodwill and make children less easy prey for extremist regimes.

Increasing the U.S. global education contribution to our fair share can greatly accelerate progress toward universal primary education for all children by 2015. Despite the dismal economy, there are countries ready and waiting for American leadership in creating a multilateral Global Fund for Education. A Global Fund would harmonize donor contributions to ensure quick and effective disbursement of educational aid. Work is being done to reform and expand existing mechanisms, but for efforts to be ambitious, the U.S. must boost the capacity of the international community. The world is waiting for us.

Our country isn’t so self-absorbed that we disregard the need for education in the world’s poorest communities. Americans care. President Obama cares. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, long-time champion of basic education rights, cares. A minivan mom like me cares. We need congressional appropriators like Representative Mark Kirk (R-10th) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) to care enough to appropriate the $2 billion and support a new Global Fund. Because no child should be on a permanent vacation from school.


John Kerry to introduce foreign aid reform in Senate

Somehow I missed this. This was sent out by Bread for the World's president David Beckmann on May 22.

Exciting developments for foreign aid reform have happened in Washington, DC, this week—largely because of the persistent advocacy of Bread for the World’s grassroots network. Officials are starting to take notice. Yesterday, Senator John Kerry made an important speech calling for the comprehensive reform of foreign aid. He announced his plans to introduce a companion bill to the House’s Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139) in the Senate. The Obama administration has begun to weigh in on the issue as well.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Senate Praises Bread for the World's Advocacy Work

Usually, advocacy organizations are recognizing members of Congress for their work. Last week, it was the other way around! Thank you, Senator Durbin!

"Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced a resolution recognizing Bread for the World’s 35 years of work on hunger and poverty. Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) were original cosponsors of the resolution. S. Res. 157 passed the Senate by unanimous consent on June 2."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Being Truthful with Ourselves: global poverty and education

My fellow RESULTS partner shows us how to show constructively show our outrage about global poverty in an op-ed. Nice one, Ken!
Being Truthful with Ourselves
By Ken Patterson

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. When I talk to people about the US helping the 1.4 billion people living on less than $1.25 per day, inevitably there are those who say, “We shouldn’t be sending aid to foreign countries because we need to take care of our own here at home first.” I reject this rationale because it represents a false choice—like somehow helping the world’s poorest people in addition to taking care of our citizens isn’t possible. The truth is, even if we kept all foreign aid dollars at home, and then discovered a mountain of gold somewhere that helped us wipe out all of our national debt, the needy in the US would be no better off. The reason? It’s plain and simple--because we haven’t chosen to resolve the problems of poverty. We have chosen to do many other things with our resources, but eradicating poverty isn’t one of them.

In the late 70s the National Academy of Sciences reported that the world was producing enough food so that nobody would ever have to die of hunger. The report concluded, though, that the barrier to achieving a hunger-free world was a lack of political will. We produce even more food per person today than we did 30 years ago, yet people still go hungry, so we clearly have not found the political will to end hunger. We also have not found the political will to stop nearly 10 million children from dying of preventable causes each year, or the political will to put 75 million primary school-age children in school around the globe. In the meantime, though, we have found the political will in the US to spend more on defense than all other nations combined. We have found the will to create a wealth-shifting tax code that has allowed the ratio of CEO to worker salaries to jump from 42 to 1 in 1982, to over 301 to 1 in 2005. We have had the political will to create a health care system that allows some to get liver transplants and Viagra while 46 million others can’t even get basic health care. So let’s be clear, “taking care of our own” is something we have chosen not to do, and reducing foreign assistance won’t change that.

So when will we as a people and a nation seriously decide to eradicate hunger and poverty? When will we wake up and instruct our decision makers to make different choices? It’s not rocket science—we just need to prioritize the needs of the people and stay focused on achieving our vision. For example, we know that, at any given moment, a certain percentage of our nation’s people will be out of work, down on their luck, affected by domestic violence, or struggling with mental illness. Shouldn’t we design our system to accommodate this? And right now, around the globe, there are 75 million primary school-aged children who don’t even have access to school. Yet we know that girls in poor nations will earn a 20% higher wage, and their children will be 10% less likely to die of preventable causes for each year of education they have past 3rd or 4th grade. That’s poverty reduction. And the missing funding to put these 75 million children in school is about $11 billion per year—less than the recent Wall Street bonuses we were all up in arms about. Can’t we figure out as a world community, how to come up with $11 billion per year to invest in education when we know it will help reduce poverty and build nations?

We have chosen not to solve one of the major problems of our time—abject poverty. By failing to address basic human needs of health care, education, and dignified work we have created other problems—poverty, instability, and extremism. By choosing not to educate children around the globe we have allowed poor nations to continue to be poor, and left others with no choice but to search for a path out of desperation through lives of extremism. But this can change if we have the will to change it.

During his campaign President Obama pledged to invest $2 billion to initiate a multi-lateral Global Fund for Education. Let’s encourage him to act now. His leadership on global education would catalyze the political will of the world to do one of the most important things we can do to end poverty—educate the world’s children. Now is the time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jan Schakowsky signs onto HR 2139!

Breaking news: WE DID IT!! On Thurs, Jan Schakowsky signed on to co-sponsor HR 2139, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act.

This bill (co-introduced by Mark Kirk, R-10th) will start the process of revamping our outdated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (which controls all the ways we provide help to people in poverty around the world). For more info on it, you can see the Bread for the World video: There will be more for us to do on this in the fall when it involves the Senate, too, but for now please thank her for her support if you are a IL-9th district constituent.

Bread for the World and RESULTS have worked together and diligently with her office to get this to happen. When I called her staff about about HR 2139s, her global affairs aide pulled up the bill and said "Yes, what IS this exactly?" and didn't think they would be needed to sign on. Because of constituent letters and phone calls, we were able to open a door of communication for the DC anti-poverty staff, educate her office about HR 2139 and gain her co-sponsorship.

I've provided a sample letter for you to personalize if that can help you.


PS Don't forget your address on the letter and on the outside envelope! Sending it to her district office in Evanston will be fastest...

The Honorable Jan Schakowsky
820 Davis Street, Suite 105
Evanston, IL 60201


Dear Congresswoman Schakowsky,

Thank you for co-sponsoring H.R. 2139, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act. This bill is a good first step in making our nation’s foreign assistance more effective and streamlined. As your constituent, I am very happy to see your leadership in our country's effort to help people in desperate need. Please work to ensure the bill maintains a focus on poverty so that we can provide the most good for the people who need it the most.


Your Name
Your Address


Some additional points to play with...

-U.S. foreign assistance has helped reduce child deaths, improve agricultural capacity, and increase school enrollment. But more lives can be saved if we improve the way foreign aid is delivered.
- By making our foreign assistance more efficient and effective, U.S. assistance will have a greater impact on poor and hungry people around the world - critical in these tough economic times
- Reforming foreign aid get the most of our tax dollars makes good economic sense for our country and for people in extreme poverty struggling to survive on less than $1.25 a day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Justice Themed Verse and Voice from Sojourners

"Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you."
- Deuteronomy 16:20

"Charity depends on the vicissitudes of whim and personal wealth; justice depends on commitment instead of circumstance. Faith-based charity provides crumbs from the table; faith-based justice offers a place at the table."
- Bill Moyers, Television journalist and social commentator

Pray for the leaders of the world’s richest countries, that the aid they have promised developing countries will be delivered and that the crippling debts still owed by those countries will be forgiven.
Source: Micah Challenge USA

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"You have to be rich to be poor..." Wash Post article

The Washington Post ran a great article on May 18, 2009 called "Poor? Pay up" shedding light on an unjust paradox. The poorer a person is, the more things cost. This whole thing just makes me ill.

A lot of is has to do with the food and convenience issues (milk at a Safeway...$2.29 for 2 gallons. milk at a corner store where you're forced to shop if you have no car? $4.99), but there is even more that really burns me up. The poorest people in our economy don't have decent access to financial services. Those who provide services to this sector are often little more than predators piling service fees onto people who can't afford it. The image of a villainous landlord twirling a mustache comes to mind, but it's much more systemized than any individual baddie. Here is an excerpt, but click here for the full article.

Hopefully, Bread for the World's Offering of Letters campaign next year may take on this very issue!!!

"The rich have direct deposit for their paychecks. The poor have check-cashing and payday loan joints, which cost time and money. Payday advance companies say they are providing an essential service to people who most need them. Their critics say they are preying on people who are the most "economically vulnerable."

"As you've seen with the financial services industry, if people can cut a profit, they do it," Blumenauer says. "The poor pay more for financial services. A lot of people who are 'unbanked' pay $3 for a money order to pay their electric bill. They pay a 2 percent check-cashing fee because they don't have bank services. The reasons? Part of it is lack of education. But part of it is because people target them. There is evidence that credit-card mills have recently started trolling for the poor. They are targeting the recently bankrupt."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lobbying for HR2139: train station and asian grocery

Bread for the World activist Carlos Navarro shows us that how we can lobby on poverty issues anytime anywhere. New Mexico reps were out and about the state in a few unlikely places. He blogs about how he and another Bread activist sought them out to ask for their co-sponsorhip on the "Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform" bill.

This is my favorite part....
"It was with great delight that we discovered that Rep. Heinrich was holding "office hours" in the deli section of Talin World Market. This store started as an Asian supermarket, but has expanded its scope to include foods from the Caribbean, Italy, Egypt, and other regions. What better place to discuss a bill on international issues with our member of Congress? I spent a little more time with Mr. Heinrich than I did with Mr. Teague. He gave me almost as much time as we get during our Lobby Day meetings in Washington. The difference here is that we were surrounded by meat and food cases and wonderful smells!"

Bravo, Mr. Navarro!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sachs: Ending poverty not possible w/o attn to water and climate

Last night, I saw Jeffrey Sachs speak in a panel discussion in Chicago about water and sustainability. He mainly spoke about water scarcity. I got to ask him a question during the forum and here's how it went. It's a sobering answer for anti-pov folks to ponder. I apologize about the breaks in the recording technology is rather inferior :(

ccyl: It's a common assertion among anti-poverty advocates that "We now have the resources and the technology to eliminate poverty. All we need is the political will" Given what we've been hearing tonight...especially the part about having no ready technical solutions for that true for this problem? And if it isn't true for water issues, can that statement true about poverty anymore since you can't thrive or survive without water?

Sachs: I think there’s a tremendous amount of truth in that statement so I want to start by saying that it’s more true than not. We have more than a billion people on the planet who every single day are struggling for survival. That, in my view is wholly --- In the 21st century with what we know, we should not have 9 million children dying every year before their 5th birthday. And we should not be in a situation where people are struggling by the hundreds of millions, for every (yield?) and their very survival. That’s how life is for a lot of people. I believe that could be ended. Even in the dry-land areas where you do face tremendous drought in many of the places we’re working you get 4 or 5 good years and then you get a drought year. Even with that, which is very painful, one can plan for that, one can adapt to it to an extent…but I’m not recommending it as a stopping point….but it’s vastly better than the situation we have right now because the situation we have right now is that even in those four average rainfall years the people are not able because they lack the cultivation tools to generate the surplus which could carry them through a bad year. And so what I’ve been recommending for many, many years is that we make targeted, science-based, sensible investments… because the food production on average could double by virtue of it tripling in the good years. Maybe not doing so much for the bad years, but at least creating an environment that is on average much higher. Then, in a while the bad years can be fought through without utter desperation.

We haven’t talked a lot about solutions here and maybe we should. Because even if ---- water is the hardest of all the issues. There are a lot of things that can and should be done from water harvesting, landscape management, --- changes , drought resistance, crop--, low --- irrigation at least for part of the farming --- for these circumstances. So I say at the starting point, don’t lose hope ... because tremendous things can be done even up to the dry-land areas … but then let me add this sobering point as well because I think it’s important. For the true dry-land areas where it’s not 7 or 800 millimeters of rainfall, but it’s 200 or 300 millimeters, maybe too low for crops. … for those places in the world, this is a very, very hard problem… where in certain areas where we’re working we can do certain things but….that may be 1/5 of the extreme poverty, requiring even greater investment for the solution…but that 1/5 is a part of the world we need to take note of. Why? Because that’s where Darfur is. That’s where Somalia is. That’s where Afghanistan is. It’s not --- We can’t come to understand this in our country yet. That we’re facing water crises, we’re not facing Islam. We’re facing hungry places that are destabilized because they don’t have livelihoods and because the children are hungry and people are dying. In Somalia, we have the piracy and why? That place is so water stretched and therefore so economically and socially stretched that they haven’t been able to, they haven’t even been able to maintain a government in the past generation. It’s this lawless, warlord --- they’ve descended into a kind of anarchy. Why? Not just because it’s arbitrarily so. Because that is one of the driest places on the whole planet. …We just gave for the first time in a long time 250 million of aid for Somalia. But you know what it was for? For a Coast
Guard. Honest to God. It was not for a water pump. Not for water (wells?) Our problem is we view these places as means, not as ends. We don’t take at all seriously that there are people there. We only ask, “What’s it mean for us?” That’s a huge mistake for our country. We have to ask, “What’s going on there?” It’s the same thing we have to ask in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And I fear that the war is spreading right now. Because we haven’t yet come to the realization that unfortunately the military is not going to solve these problems. And the final point I would make on this: if we let climate change just run loose, these places will become uninhabitable. And so this vision of finding a way for them to escape from poverty, which I deeply believe in and spend my nights and days and days and nights working on…we will not be able to keep up with a runaway change in global climate. Similarly, we can’t keep up with a runaway population, so we have to get serious about population policy, contraception, family planning, climate change, and a lot of other favorite issues of Americans.

Monday, May 11, 2009

May 15th Deadline for RESULTS International Conference

The deadline for registering for the RESULTS International conference is May 15. If you want to learn face-to-face lobbying from experts in building relationships with members of Congress, go learn from these people!
Here's a testimonial from their website that had an eye-opening statistic...
During an International Conference in the early 1990s, activists who had spent time lobbying during the conference came together for a meeting. What our congressman said to us has always stuck with me and illuminated just how important our voices are.
“Do you know how many bills will be introduced during this session of Congress?” he asked. Most of us had no idea. The answer? 35,000. Our minds whirled as we tried to imagine how any member of Congress or staffer could possibly know about them all.
Then he said, “Do you know how many bills will be passed?” We made wild guesses. The answer? About 220, based on the previous congressional session.
In many cases, it is only because of our persistent voices that bills will pass which are of critical importance to people in poverty.
— Bob Dickerson, Seattle partner

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Obama's global health plan disappoints activists ran a story today that Obama's plans to spend 63 billion dollars over the next six years overseas may not live up to the president's campaign promises. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, says the FY10 budget "ignores the president's campaign promises to fully fund PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and to provide a fair-share contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria."

Here are further quotes from the article from various agencies. For the full piece, Click here

"This proposal is even worse than we had feared," said Christine Lubinski, director of the Centre for Global Health Policy. "With this spending request, Obama has broken his campaign promise to provide 1 billion dollars a year in new money for global AIDS, and he has overlooked the growing threat of tuberculosis."

"Until we see the full budget with the line item detail on U.S. bilateral AIDS programmes and on the Global Fund, we will not know just how far off the mark the budget information presented today really is," said Zeitz of the Global AIDS Alliance. "In fact, the early release of less than completely detailed budget information on the president's global health strategy makes it difficult to know what the real dollars are and how the White House intends on spending them."

Kaytee Riek of Health Global Access Project (HealthGAP) said that the U.S. was only currently meeting about one third of its expected contribution to the Global Fund - roughly 900 million dollars of contributions - and 1.8 billion dollars would constitute a fair U.S. contribution. "The Fund is facing a financial crisis," said Riek. "So when there's only a 366-million-dollar increase for (funding to combat) AIDS, malaria, and TB, how will you meet the needs of the Global Fund and expand PEPFAR, all of which Obama promised to do as a candidate" – a claim Riek said Obama had already reiterated as president. "This is not something we can fall behind on because it's going to come back and haunt us in the future," she said.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Proposed bill to honor Yunus (HR 2000, S. 846)

"To me poor people are like bonsai trees. When you plant the best seed of the tallest tree in a flower-pot, you get a replica of the tallest tree, only inches tall. There is nothing wrong with the seed you planted, only the soil-base that is too inadequate. Poor people are bonsai people. There is nothing wrong in their seeds. Simply, society never gave them the base to grow on. All it needs to get the poor people out of poverty for us to create an enabling environment for them. Once the poor can unleash their energy and creativity, poverty will disappear very quickly." -Dr Muhammad Yunus

These are the words of Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and board member of RESULTS. I am happy to say that four IL members of Congress support HR 2000 which seeks to award Dr. Yunus with the Congressional Gold Medal to in recognition of his contributions to the fight against global poverty. Senator Durbin introduced the bill in the Senate (with Senator Bennett). Senator Burris has added his name to the it and Representatives Schakowsky and Kirk have cosponsored the bill in the House.

Honoring Dr. Yunus before Congress will raise public and congressional awareness of the power of microfinance to change lives and help build congressional support . It will also send a strong signal to USAID and the World Bank that the U.S. is committed to microfinance for the very poor and expects the our foreign aid and the World Bank to do the same.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Foreign Assistance Reform Bill Update (5/5/09)

Happy Cinqo de Mayo! A few notes about the new Foreign Assistance Reform Bill from Bread for the World...
-Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), member of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139), on April 28.

-Bread is working quickly to gain cosponsors for the bill since it is expected to move rapidly from the House Foreign Affairs Committee to the House floor. It is likely that the committee will work on the bill before Congress begins its Memorial Day recess on May 23.

- The bill is a critical first step toward making foreign assistance more effective, efficient, and transparent. It calls on the president to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy for global development, improve the evaluation of development programs, and increase the transparency of U.S. foreign assistance to developing countries.

- Rep. Berman said that the bill is a “down payment” on a broader bill to improve foreign assistance that he plans to introduce later this year.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Global Fund Protects Us All

Global Fund Protects Us All

A pediatric resident with tuberculosis treating 150 patients at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

A fourteen-year-old Zambian girl caring for three siblings because her parents died of AIDS.

A mother in India spreading a treated bed net over her children to protect them from malaria.

What do these scenes have in common? They are all reminders that diseases of poverty – AIDS, TB and malaria – are alive and well, even in our local communities.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is one of the world’s most effective tools for fighting these deadly diseases. It provides huge percentages of the international funding to combat them: 25% for AIDS, 66% for TB, and 75% for malaria. It distributes drug treatments and bed nets as well as providing essential support services. It shelters women disowned by husbands who infect them with AIDS. It teaches villagers to detect and treat malaria. It even protects Illinois residents by working to stop the spread of global TB.

Despite the Global Fund’s proven track record, by 2010 it is projected to be $5 billion short of its budget to continue future programs. While an increasing number of poor nations are seeing success and submitting high-quality grant proposals, donor nations – including the U.S. – are not meeting pledged funding levels. Without full funding this year and next, life-saving programs will be abruptly put on hold. Millions of lives will be at risk.

In the face of economic crisis, the temptation for developed nations to reduce support for the Global Fund is understandable, but inexcusable. They are penny-wise and pound-foolish. By not viewing their contributions as smart investments, donor nations ignore public health at their peril. If the Global Fund’s shortfall is allowed to continue, developed nations will only postpone the inevitable need to send even more aid to control the resurgence of disease. They will stifle global economic development as poor countries struggle with unhealthy workforces. Worse, the heaviest price will be paid if militaries must engage in more conflicts to stabilize areas where poverty has driven people to desperate acts of violence.

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Representative Mark Kirk (R-10th), and Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd) have influence over global health funding as members of Foreign Operations subcommittees. They have been instrumental in increasing U.S. AIDS, TB and malaria contributions to the highest levels in history. The world is counting on their leadership once again.

Congress and the Obama administration have a chance in the coming supplemental appropriations bill to increase 2009 funding for the Global Fund by $1 billion. This increase would meet urgent needs, set the Global Fund on an upward trajectory and improve the U.S. image by proving we’re committed to multilateral, results-driven global health funding. Additionally, the Obama administration and Congress should work together to provide the U.S. fair share to the Global Fund for 2010: $2.7 billion.

From a financial perspective, the $1 billion for 2009 is less than one-third of the Merrill Lynch Christmas bonuses currently under investigation. Unlike irresponsible financial institutions and poorly-led auto companies coming to the taxpayer with their hands out, the Global Fund has succeeded beyond expectations in its mission to bring urgently-needed health services to the poor. It should be rewarded – not punished – for that success.

From a human perspective, a thriving Global Fund will mean children like 14-year-old orphan Catherine Phiri will be less likely to die from AIDS which claimed her parents. Mothers like Seema Paati will sleep under bed nets with their children without fear of contracting malaria. You and I will know our country used our tax dollars to protect us and honor our promise to the poorest people of the world.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Foreign Assistance Reform Bill Introduced by Berman and Kirk

I'm going out of my mind with excitement about this one, everybody! MARK KIRK INTRODUCED A FOREIGN ASSISTANCE BILL I'VE LOBBIED HIS OFFICE ON!!!!! Yeah! My Bread for the World church wrote him letters, my RESULTS group wrote him letters and went into his district office to lobby his district aide, I talked to his DC aide on the phone...and now I see how all this pays off when we have the big guns out in DC working their end. I honestly did not expect to see any movement on this until much later. I'm feeling really great doing my little part in this movement to push this big Foreign Assistance ship around. Thanks to everyone taking me on this journey with you!

Gotta go...lotsa work to do still...starting with a thank you letter to Congressman Kirk and a call to his aide!

Here's the scoop from Bread for the World today....
Bread for the World President Pushes for Support, Co-Sponsorship of New Foreign Aid Reform Bill

Washington, DC, April 29, 2009 –Rev. David Beckmann, president, Bread for the World, and co-chair, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), today urged members of the House of Representatives to pass the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139).

The bill was introduced last night by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA-28), chairman of the House foreign Affairs Committee and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL-10). It requires President Barack Obama to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy for global development, improve evaluation of development programs, and increase the transparency of U.S. foreign assistance to developing countries.

“It is a good initial step in making our nation’s foreign assistance more effective, efficient, and transparent,” said Rev. Beckmann. “Coordinating and improving our foreign assistance can have far-reaching effects on reducing hunger and poverty, making the world more politically stable. In turn, a more effective U.S. foreign assistance system would make for a more secure United States.”

Rev. Beckmann said that a comprehensive U.S. strategy for global development needs to be linked to an ongoing monitoring and evaluation system to determine what works and what does not. Requiring any agency that provides funding to post related information on a public website or other public forum will bring increased transparency and accountability to the people being served by these programs and to U.S. taxpayers.

Currently, U.S. global development policies and programs are scattered across 12 departments, 25 different agencies, and nearly 60 government offices. “In these difficult economic times, a more efficient foreign assistance system—with better coordination, better accountability, better clarity—will ensure that people get help faster and more effectively,” said Rev. Beckmann.

U.S. foreign assistance is still largely governed by a law passed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. “It is woefully outdated, inefficient, and ill equipped to provide the level of relief needed to address hunger and poverty in today’s more complex world,” said Rev. Beckmann. “U.S. foreign assistance has helped reduce child deaths, improve agricultural capacity, and increase school enrollment. But more lives can be saved if we improve how we deliver foreign aid. It will mean less waste and more impact for our tax dollars.”