Unacceptable Fact of the Month
In Marion County, a single parent who works full-time at a minimum wage job earns only 35% of the income needed to support himself or herself plus one preschooler and one school-age child.
(The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Indiana 2016)
Almost exactly one year ago, an anti-poverty initiative made its debut in Indianapolis. Before a full house at Clowes Memorial Hall, New York Times columnist David Brooks and national talk show host Tavis Smiley launched the Faith & Action Project by engaging in a conversation about poverty and its causes, solutions and challenges.
That evening was the first public reflection of the aspirations of impact that sparked the creation of the Project. Much of that aspiration sprang directly from our sponsors at the Mike and Sue Smith Family Fund and our partners at the Christian Theological Seminary, but it was urged forward by the feedback we received from the crowd at Clowes that night. As an event and as a beginning, the Project’s debut exceeded expectations.
As did the months that followed. We are inspired by the organizations and individuals who allowed us to align with them in the fight against poverty. We are encouraged by the momentum the Project gained through its spring event, which teed up our grant program. We are delighted that more than 50 organizations pursued Faith & Action grants, and that they brought forth such promising, creative ideas.
All of this has humbled us, but it has also emboldened us to dream bigger and more precisely. Going forward, look for us to champion initiatives that promote housing stability…that turn employment opportunities into earnings growth…that increase educational attainment across generations…that advocate for improved health…and that promote a deeper faith involvement and greater faith-community connections.
A year ago, we had a vision of a community coming together to fight poverty. Thanks to people like you, that vision became reality. Now we have a vision of the impact that community will have. In that renewed vision, we refuse to be satisfied. Instead, we vow to push harder, to cling to our sense of urgency, and to seek even greater impact. Because poverty will not concede victory. We must, as a community, win it. Thank you for joining us in that effort.
Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Project Director, Faith & Action Project
Fall event panel set
Three leading thinkers on poverty in America will come together onstage at the Marriott Indianapolis Downtown in November for the conversation “Poverty: A Community Responds.”
While the city embraced the Faith & Action Project in its first year–helping to launch promising conversations among community groups, stirring up innovative ideas and working to complement new city initiatives–much work remains to be done. Poverty continues to thrive, and the Faith & Action Project continues its collaboration with the community by presenting its annual community discussion.
Supported by the Mike and Sue Smith Family Fund, the Faith & Action Project launches its second year on Nov. 8 with “Poverty: A Community Responds,” a public discussion of poverty featuring thought leaders focused on housing, education and hope:
- Matthew Desmond, a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient and author of Pulitzer Prize-winning Evicted: Poverty and Profit in America
- Deborah Bial, education strategist and leader of the Posse Foundation
- Dr. Valerie Maholmes, who penned Fostering Resilience and Well-being in Children and Families in Poverty: Why Hope Still Matters.
The discussion will be moderated by UIndy President Robert Manuel.
What: “Poverty: A Community Responds,” a public discussion of poverty
When: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, 79 PM.
Where: Marriott Indianapolis Downtown, 350 W. Maryland St.
The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required, and previous events sold out.
Reserve tickets here.
In fall 2014, the Citi Foundation and Living Cities launched the City Accelerator, a three-year, $3 million program designed to foster innovation among city governments to address the pressing challenges facing low-income residents. Former Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield has been engaged in the process since its unveiling. He recently shared some lessons learned in a blog post on governing.com.
Race and culture dialogue
The Brookings Institution recently put race, class and culture in the spotlight by hosting a conversation between Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance and William Julius Wilson, the Harvard professor and Brookings Non-Resident Senior Fellow who wrote The Truly Disadvantaged. You can watch the whole event here, but Brookings highlighted six points that it found particularly worthwhile:
- Jobs matter. “Wilson pointed out that neighborhoods where most residents are poor but employed are very different from those whose residents are poor but jobless.”
- Black Americans face concentrated poverty. “Vance and Wilson agreed that living in an area of concentrated poverty is worse than simply being poor, and that the greater odds of living in a poor area for black Americans are the result of discriminatory housing policies of the 1950s and 1960s.”
- Social connections and family stability are critical for poor Americans. “Both Wilson and Vance explained how concentrated poverty also means the absence of social connections that are critical to employment, well-being, and civic engagement.”
- Rural communities cannot simply be abandoned. “Vance agreed that moving out might be, for many, a way to move up. But it is unreasonable to expect people to move to somewhere that might seem ‘like a different planet.’”
- Democrats turned away from the working class in 2016 and paid the price. “The political dangers of ignoring low-income whites are clear. But as both speakers said in different ways, policies that help poor whites will also help poor blacks; indeed, likely more so.”
- Political leaders should focus on promoting quality of life chances. Said Williams, “For me, the ideal role model would be one who would use the bully pulpit to reinforce and promote the principle of equality of life chances.”
To watch video clips highlighting these points, click here.
Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich. When welfare reform changed the world for countless Americans, Ehrenreich decided to find out what it would be like to live in the new paradigm. So she took whatever minimum-wage jobs should could find, first in Florida, then in Maine and Minnesota, and then wrote about her experiences. While Ehrenreich was criticized for some of her conclusions, she was also roundly applauded for her depiction of life living paycheck to paycheck … when that paycheck doesn’t really provide a living.
Mark your calendar for this important date.
Nov. 8, 7-9 PM — “Poverty: A Community Responds,” a public discussion of poverty.
March 6, 2018 — Faith & Action Project spring conference.