Poverty is a growing problem in our community. It’s a problem that some of us don’t really understand, and most of us don’t know how pervasive poverty is in our community. Many citizens with resources are able to isolate themselves from the under-resourced and poverty in general. We must break the bubble.
Recent community reports recognize the significant negative impact poverty is having in our community. The Field Guide 2030 Community Strategic Plan includes “Minimizing Poverty” as one of four major cross-chapter themes. Poverty is listed as one of four “Red Flag Themes” in the 2013 Community Focus report. It’s time for us to take action and move the needle to not just slow the growth of poverty, but to actually reduce poverty in our community.
The Impacting Poverty Commission, created by Community Partnership of the Ozarks, is charged with the following:
- Inventory the various support initiatives that currently operate within our community to support the under-resourced and determine whether there are any overlaps or gaps in service.
- Educate Commission members about poverty by learning from the service providers in the Impacting Poverty Collaborative.
- Identify the root causes of poverty in our community.
- Identify the symptoms of poverty and the negative impacts on our community.
- Research and identify best practices from other communities that are addressing poverty.
- Set a vision, measurable goals, and strategies for moving our community toward a measurable reduction in poverty via a two-generational (children and adults) “opportunity creation” approach to break the cycle of poverty focused on increased employment and access to well-paying jobs, increased access to education, increased access to effective transportation, increased access to child care, increased access to quality foods, increased access to healthcare and healthy lifestyle options, and any other strategy the Commission deems effective. Develop a successful model that can be adopted by other communities.
- Based upon the inventory of current initiatives and best practices, the root causes and symptoms of poverty, and the vision, goals, and strategies developed, provide guidance to the various social service agencies that provide support to the under-resourced in our community.
- Recommend the role that each community sector (local government, businesses, state legislature, faith community, social service providers, schools, philanthropists, etc) should play in reducing poverty.
- Recommend legislative priorities (local, state, and/or federal) that should be pursued.
- Select specific “dashboard indicators” that will be used over time to determine what impact the adopted actions have on our community.
- Work to increase public awareness about (a) the current level of poverty in our community, (b) the potential long-term impacts if not addressed now, and (c) options for our community to address the problem(s) associated with poverty. The Commission must help citizens not currently living in poverty understand why they should care about poverty in our community.
- Issue a “call to action” and recommend how poverty should be addressed within our community.
- Recommend whether a more permanent organizational structure is needed to monitor and advise our community regarding poverty issues in the future.