Spotlight Exclusives

The Growing Profile of Poverty, by the Advisory Council of Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.

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As we write this, an important milestone has been passed in the 2008 presidential campaign and in our effort to put fighting poverty onto the national political agenda.

Recently, Senator McCain said he would make fighting poverty a national priority. Senator Obama stated his commitment to this being the “generation that ends poverty.” And both he and Senator Clinton indicated their intention to fight to tackle poverty by establishing a high-level point person on the issue. In Clinton۪s case, she proposed that person be a cabinet level post. That means every major candidate has made a commitment to leading a national fight against poverty if he or she becomes president.

When we helped start Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity (, a website devoted to focusing on poverty, we intended it to be a forum to cover the issue and to catalyze politics on the issue. We also knew it might be an uphill climb. We staked out campaigns, posted videos, sent questionnaires, hosted events, and every day posted news and important commentary building a national audience. And we are not alone in our efforts. Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity is the brainchild of the foundation community who sought to have a greater voice on poverty. And the critical need to address the more than 36 million Americans who live in poverty has been a focus of a host of other dedicated organizations throughout the advocacy community. All of us are encouraged by the heightened attention that poverty in America is receiving.

Now that the next President will have made a personal and public commitment to the issue, we intend to keep at the bi-partisan effort of reducing poverty in this nation. We will continue to highlight breaking news on the issue, sponsor an informed dialogue, and host a site that spurs and shares new ideas and perspectives.

We۪re glad to share this good news with you. In recent weeks our site has been cited in the national press, gained additional prominent commentators and enjoyed a powerful national readership. We intend to ramp up our efforts; we are seeking new partners and will make sure there are more good ideas for campaigns to draw on, while building an informed audience to watch, comment on, and encourage positive efforts.

Thanks to all of you who are actively engaged with Spotlight and the broader effort to eliminate poverty. Thank you for your help so far, and in the coming days.

Members of the Spotlight Advisory Council include: Rebecca Blank, the Robert V. Kerr Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-director of the National Poverty Center; William S. Cohen, former secretary of state; Mark Greenberg, director of the Poverty and Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress; Ron Haskins, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution; Nancy L. Johnson, former member of Congress; Otis Johnson, mayor of Savannah, Ga.; Jack Kemp, former secretary of housing and urban development and former member of Congress; George Mitchell, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader; E. Clay Shaw Jr., former member of Congress; and Wellington E. Webb, former mayor of Denver, Colo.

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