Friday, January 9, 2009

Top 10 Ways To Fight Poverty in America by Leslie Graham

I found this at It's a nice way to kick-start your interest in fighting poverty and just do SOMETHING! There are so many ways to fight poverty...everyone can find something. Enjoy!...

Top 10 Ways To Fight Poverty in America by Leslie Graham

There are immediate and longer-term ways to join the movement to end poverty in the U.S. Consider donating new and gently used clothes, books, toys, and cars (ok, maybe not new cars), for instance, or join an organizing or legislative campaign committed to poverty eradication and fulfilling the human rights of our nation's poor. What follows is a non-exhaustive list; please tell us how you've been successful in fighting poverty!

1. Recognize our shared humanity: Our desire to erase the poor through public policy only denies all of us full access to the government programs and services we expect. Too many of us do our damndest to not see the poor, or to blame them for their lot. This is psychologically reassuring, denying the reality that any one of us is at risk for losing our job or having a catastrophic accident, or being paid less than our co-workers, or making heat-of-the-moment choices that might lead to an unplanned pregnancy - all risks that can lead to rising costs, unpayable bills, prolonged unemployment, hunger, eviction or foreclosure. The current recession will kick millions of Americans (back) into poverty - are you one of the 4 million on "shaky ground"? Either way, opening your mind to your linked fate with poorer Americans is the critical first step in fighting poverty.

2. Educate Yourself! There are a handful of intertwined issues that compound disadvantage for poor Americans: a nationwide lack of affordable housing leads to displacement and lack of access to good jobs. The same can be said for our country's sorry state of public education, college un-affordability, dependency on cars and lack of public transportation systems linking jobs and residential neighborhoods. Racial injustice leads to housing end employment discrimination, denying low-income people of color full access to safe neighborhoods and well-paying, secure jobs, which reinforces their entrapment in low-wage work and in dangerous neighborhoods. In the latter the criminal justice system has become the de facto guardian for too many young black men. Domestic violence and policies restricting access to contraception and abortion disproportionately hurt low-income women. Through reading and outreach you can deepen your understanding of the anti-poverty aspects of workers' rights, immigrants' rights, women's rights, reproductive justice, environmental justice, racial justice and economic human rights movements.

3. Reframe the debate: You're going to see the phrase "economic human rights" (see Article 11) a lot around here. This is a somewhat dormant movement that's been revived in recent years, as anti-poverty and human rights activists coalesce around the reality that living in deprivation quashes people's human rights. That is, due to a lack of money and resources, people also lack access to good jobs, secure housing, quality education, adequate nutrition and good health, and full participation in society. Economic human rights activists fight for the fulfillment of these rights to housing, education, work, food and health, framing poverty as both a cause and consequence of human rights violations. It's powerful, and fits well with the concepts of social inclusion/exclusion. Think about it.
4. Speak Out! "Stand Up and Speak Out" is an annual global action against worldwide poverty and inequality. We need to be doing the same about domestic poverty. Speaking up and speaking out is what motivates all of us here at; it's the impetus behind the rise of poverty simulations in cities to raise awareness about poverty. Being vocal and being active about poverty and social inequality is a minimum daily activity for each of us in the fight to end poverty in the U.S.
5. Join a campaign to end poverty: We've highlighted at this site Catholic Charities' Campaign to cut poverty in half by 2020. The Center for American Progress has made a similar pledge. Umbrella groups like the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign post actions needing support, as well as list member organizations nationwide that have their own initiatives and need for volunteers, donations and your commitment. See Action #2 for different rights-based movements through which you can fight poverty.
6. Take legislative action: Most campaigns include a legislative advocacy component. Citizen-driven resources like have search engines where you can research and track anti-poverty legislation. Support national and local non-profits such as the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, the Louisiana Association of Non-Profits or MA Interfaith Worker Justice in their efforts to develop and drive pro-poor, anti-poverty legislation in areas such as affordable housing and education, living wages, food security, universal healthcare, child care, Gulf Coast recovery, adult literacy, early childhood education, prisoner re-entry, and sanctuary for undocumented workers.
7. Volunteer: With kids, families, the elderly, the disabled, the homeless, women, and the mentally ill; in shelters, community centers, after school programs, prisons, and employment centers; teach literacy, resume development, job training courses, ESL classes, and computer classes; coach sports; serve food; provide counseling; help low-income Americans apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit this spring.
8. Donate: money, toys, clothes (especially sizes L/XL for women!) - including suits, food, cars, and furniture.
9. Join Boycotts & Support Unions: If you can afford it, join boycotts of corporations that exploit workers or prey on low-income communities. Furthermore, unions offer higher wages, benefits and economic security to workers in all economic brackets. For low-wage workers, union wages can make the different between living below the poverty line or rising above it. Support the AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations, and the Employee Free Choice Act, which could come up for a vote this spring.
10. Support Gulf Coast recovery: Katrina was the "tipping point" in the public's wholesale rejection of Bush. Pollster John Zogby thinks it will be the "defining moment" for at least a generation. Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the deadliest disasters in American history, and it has permanently displaced almost 70,000 low-income New Orleanians (never mind their neighbors across the Gulf Coast) - that's almost 20% of the city's pre-storm population! Our nation was horrified by the depth of poverty and gross government negligence on display after the flood, yet in less than six months the phrase "Katrina fatigue" was in our lexicon. New Orleans was one of the poorest cities in the country prior to the 2005 storms. Its post-storm population is now more affluent, on average - and also more white. Close to 5,000 units of subsidized housing have been demolished; thousands more remain vacant and damaged. Less than 40% of renters across Louisiana now have access to affordable units; the homeless population in New Orleans alone has doubled - while most of the agencies that serve them are gone. The public hospital remains shuttered and slated for demolition to make way for a newer version of an existing operating hospital. The city is one of the deadliest in the country. Mobilizing around New Orleans and Gulf Coast recovery is a signature test of our commitment to fighting poverty and inequality.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Inauguration Service Event and Charity fundraiser

From the Obama campaign, info about a service event and a fundraiser for the Inspiration Cafe...
Dear Friend,
On behalf of all my colleagues from the Obama campaign staff, I want to wish you a happy New Year and say thank you once again for your support which made our victory possible. I also want to invite you to a few events where you can celebrate Barack's victory and help improve our communities.

As you may know, Barack has asked all his supporters to participate in a community service activity on Monday, January 19th, which is Martin Luther King Day and "inauguration eve." Our team feels community service is the best way to honor Dr. King's legacy and usher in this new era in American history.

In this spirit, I ask that you join local Obama supporters at the Holiday Club on Chicago's northside that evening to both celebrate our victory together and learn about meaningful volunteer opportunities available through Inspiration Corporation, an excellent local non-profit that serves homeless and low-income individuals. Here are the details:

Obama Pre-Inaugural Celebration and Community Service Event
The Holiday Club
4000 North Sheridan Road (intersection of Irving Park and Sheridan Roads / CTA Sheridan Road Red Line Stop)
Chicago, IL
Monday, January 19th - 7 PM
Enjoy Excellent Food and Drink Specials
Help prepare bagged lunches for Inspiration Corporation clients and sign-up for other critical volunteer opportunities
RSVP to:

There will be many Chicagoans gathering to celebrate Inauguration Day, Tuesday, January 20th at the Chicago Inaugural Ball (see for ticketing information). I wanted to also invite you to a free event I will be working on which honors the special role played by Chicago's African and Caribbean communities in the Obama campaign. All are welcome to the below celebration at the world-famous Ethiopian Diamond restaurant:

African and Caribbean Community Inaugural Celebration
Ethiopian Diamond Restaurant
6120 N. Broadway (closest CTA stop is Granville Red Line)
Chicago, IL
Tuesday, January 20th - 7 PM
Watch Barack's inauguration speech and learn how you can stay involved in Barack's movement for change
Inaugural souvenirs available (proceeds to benefit Inspiration Corporation)
Cash Bar, DJ Music and Dancing
RSVP to: Kiros Tewolde /

Thank you again for your role in making history in 2008. I hope to see you on January 19th and 20th!

Sean Tenner

Monday, January 5, 2009 contest to select ideas to present to Obama

From one of my anti-poverty Facebook friends:
Dear MDG Supporters,

As I'm sure you all know, is sponsoring a contest to showcase innovative ideas to shape the public policies of our next administration. The top 10 ideas will be presented to President-elect Obama! Each person gets 10 votes. Here are two ideas that you might find interesting:

Directions for voting (Jan 5 - Jan 15):
1. Click the blue box that says the number of votes
2. Create an account
3. Open the confirmation e-mail and click the link.
4. Click the blue box with the number of votes again and it will record your vote!

Thanks in advance for your time, I encourage you all to vote!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Let's Talk Bread- Thurs, Jan 22 2009

Global Development, Poverty and US Foreign Assistance

We'll discuss these and related matters at the next Let's Talk Bread discussion group to be held at 7:30PM on Thurs, Jan 22 at United Lutheran Church in Oak Park. The church is located at 409 Greenfield Street (Greenfield and North Ridgeland, two blocks south of the Ridgeland-North Avenue intersection).

For background, we are encouraged to read the Executive Summary and Chapters 2 and 3 of Bread for the World's 2009 Hunger Report and Oxfam's Foreign Aid 101. If you have not completed the readings, don't let that deter you from attending.

Let's Talk Bread is a Chicago-area group that promotes regular conversations about poverty and hunger. For more info, contact John ( or Rich (