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Major Policy Forum to Look at State and Local Initiatives Aimed at Fighting Poverty in America

Forum is one of several upcoming events that highlight growing efforts to fight of poverty.

For Immediate Release July 24, 2008

Contact: Amy Saltzman

WASHINGTON, D.C. On Monday, July 28 a major policy forumsponsored by the Half in Ten Campaign, National League of Cities andSpotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, will examine the growing numberof anti-poverty initiatives launched in the last two years by state andlocal governments. By establishing commissions and legislativecaucuses, setting poverty reduction targets, and holding summits, stateand local governments are taking concrete steps to help the nation۪slowest income families.

The forumis one of a number of events over the next few months that willhighlight the problem of poverty in America today and the growingpolitical and public will to come up with solutions. The July 28 forum,Tackling Poverty: The Role of State and Local Governments,will include advocates, experts, and officials from Minnesota,Connecticut, Illinois and New York City. It will take place from noonto 2 p.m. at the Center for American Progress, 1333 H Street, NW, 10thFloor, Washington, D.C.

Spotlight onPoverty and Opportunity would also like to let you know about severalother events that may be of interest to reporters writing about effortsto fight poverty and create greater opportunity for all Americans.These include the following:

  • Annual Release of Poverty Data, August 26.  The Census Bureau will release two sets of poverty numbers: data onincome, poverty and health insurance from the Current PopulationSurvey, which provides national and state data, and data on income,earnings and poverty from the American Community Survey, which providesdata for areas with populations of 65,000 or more. More information onthe release will be posted at shortly before August 26.
  • Fighting Poverty with Faith: A Week of Action, Sept. 10-16.  Thisnational effort to draw greater attention to poverty as a moral problemis being coordinated by religious organizations across the country.During this week people of faith across the country will be mobilizingto ask their local, state and national candidates what they will do toaddress the pressing issues of poverty and opportunity in Americaduring their first 100 days in office. The week will includecoordinated interfaith services and advocacy efforts aimed at drawingattention to the need for all sectors of society to come together tofight poverty. For more information, go to
  • The Gulf Coast and the New Administration: An Agenda for the First 100 Days, Sept.15.This major policy forum, which will be held in New Orleans, will setthe stage for the next president۪s efforts to address continuingpoverty in the Gulf Coast region three years after hurricanes Katrinaand Rita. The event is sponsored by the Equity and Inclusion Campaign,an initiative of the Louisiana Disaster and Recovery Foundation, andSpotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. Panelists will include abi-partisan group of key elected officials, foundation representatives,policy experts, national and local journalists and community organizersworking in the Gulf Coast Region.
  • Congressional Hearing on Poverty, Sept. 18. (tentative).  TheSenate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Poverty, chaired bySen. Edward M. Kennedy, is scheduled to hold a hearing on setting afederal goal for reducing poverty. Witnesses are expected to includeformer Sen. John Edwards, chair of the Half In Ten anti-povertycampaign.

These events come asmore Americans are saying they want to see a greater focus in thepresidential campaigns and in the media on efforts to fight poverty. Anew poll released in early July by Republican pollster Jim McLaughlinfor Spotlight on Poverty, asked likely voters for the 2008 presidentialcampaign whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement:”The media has spent an adequate amount of time during the presidentialcampaign covering the issue of how to fight poverty in the U.S.” 56percent disagreed; 41 percent strongly disagreed.

Therecently-renewed effort to update the country۪s out-dated measure forcalculating the number of people in poverty is another sign of growingmomentum on this issue. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA.) is expected tointroduce legislation soon calling for a new poverty measure that wouldfor the first time include costs for transportation, child care andhealth care, as well as non-cash benefits such as housing assistance,the Earned Income tax Credit, the Child Care Credit and food stamps. AJuly 17 hearing on the proposal before the Subcommittee on IncomeSecurity and Family Support of the House Ways and Means Committee drewa standing-room only crowd. A similar measure was recently adopted byNew York City.

Clearly, poverty hasbecome a dominant issue in the minds of growing numbers of voters,policy makers and religious leaders. If you would like more informationon any of the events above, the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunityinitiative would be happy to set up interviews and provide additionalbackground. Contact Amy Saltzman at 301-656-0348;


Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity: Foundations Ask Presidential Candidates What They۪ll Do for Americais a new initiative supported by American foundations to developsustained political will on the pressing issues of poverty andopportunity. Spotlight starts by engaging candidates in substantivediscussions about poverty in our country and eliciting ideas andperspectives about what must be done. The Spotlight web site offers thelatest research and news from around the country and featurescompelling commentary from leading public figures and experts. Throughongoing forums, discussions, and outreach, Spotlight will seek toensure that poverty and opportunity are on the national agenda longafter the elections are over.

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