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Too Many Mississippi Children Live in Families Struggling to Make Ends Meet

Posted by charris on 10/05/2015

Tags: depower, mississippi

Too many Mississippians struggled to make ends meet in 2014, according to new data released today from the U.S. Census Bureau, highlighting the need to invest in education at all levels so that Mississippians can build a secure future.

Our success as a state depends on opportunity for everyone. If schools aren’t given enough funding to help all children succeed, we could put opportunity out of reach, not only for the 243,000 children living in poverty, but for all Mississippians.

One in five Mississippians struggled to afford basic necessities in 2014, living on less than $24,000 a year for a family of four. This is higher than in any other state. About 29 percent (or 243,000) of children in Mississippi grow up in families that can’t give them a good start to life because they make this little. See graphic.

In order to succeed, all children need schools that will prepare them to meet the challenges of the future. Children who grow up in poverty, however, face greater challenges in getting the education they need to escape poverty, and, in many cases, require more resources to meet the achievement levels of children in wealthier families.

Find the full article here:

Sara Miller Senior Policy Analyst

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First Stop on the CSA Campaign: East St. Louis

Posted by lmullany on 10/05/2015

Earlier this month, we took the campaign for universal Children's Savings Accounts in Illinois on the road, and our first stop was East St. Louis. It was the first of many CSA Learning Summits around the state that we're hosting with Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI).

At the summit, we shared dreams for our children. Many of us hope that our children have bright, successful, and financially secure futures.

While higher education could help our kids reach many of these dreams, there are many barriers that stand in our way, including the cost of college. Children's Savings Accounts (CSAs) can inspire kids to dream big and help make college more accessible to families:

  • Low- and moderate-income children with $500 or more in savings are [three times more likely to enroll in college than children with no savings], and four times more likely to graduate.
  • Children given a CSA at birth tend to have stronger development, both socially and emotionally.
  • Children with a CSA were twice as likely to expect to go to college than kids without one.

We want to spread the word about the CSA programs in other states, and advocate for something similar in Illinois. Together, we can make universal CSAs a reality!

To learn more about our CSA Campaign, please visit

Want to Attend a CSA Learning Summit?

We hope you can join us at future summits. We'll be hosting a CSA Learning Summit in Chicago on Friday, November 6, from 9:00am-1:30pm at Gary Comer Youth Center. Please be sure to RSVP online. If you have any questions, you can contact Jody at Please help us spread the word by sharing this flyer!

Look out for additional Summits in Aurora and Champaign. More information to come soon!

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Black Income Levels Plummet 11% in KY

Posted by tlentz on 09/23/2015

African Americans living in Kentucky saw their average yearly incomes drop by more than 11 percent in one year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released this week.

The poverty rate also rose for black Kentuckians at a rate four times more than the rest of the state from 2013 to 2014.

Incoming President and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, Sadiqa Reynolds, looks at "urgency to create policies that will end cycles of poverty." Read more

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Unshared Recovery: 46 Million Poor; Poverty Rate Unchanged

Posted by rstoller on 09/22/2015

Coalition on Human Needs by Lecia Imbery
Below is CHN’s statement on the new poverty data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. We’ve also included tweets to share and our First Look at the data, which shows that economic recovery since the end of the Great Recession has been unshared.

Unshared Recovery: 46 Million Poor; Poverty Rate Unchanged

Congress Should Invest in Proven Anti-Poverty Programs and Reject More Cuts and Shutdowns

“The number of Americans living in poverty remained stuck at more than 46 million last year, not statistically different from 2013. Disappointingly, economic growth is hardly reaching America’s poor. The poverty rate is down from its peak of 15.1 percent in post-recession 2010, but, at 14.8 percent, is well over the 12.5 percent rate in 2007, before the Great Recession took hold. There are still more than 15 million poor children, more than one in five. Damaging inequality continues, with more than one in three African American children (36 percent) and about one-third of Latino children (32 percent) living in poverty. For white non-Hispanic children, the poverty rate was 12.3 percent. There are many troubling signs: nearly one in ten of our children is living below half the poverty line (the official threshold is $18,850 for a family of three). Hardship is broadly shared: for another year, one-third of the nation is uncomfortably close to poverty (below twice the poverty line).

“While economic gains are not reaching the poor in a sustained way, government programs are helping. The Census Bureau’s new report shows that low-income tax credits, nutrition and housing programs, Social Security and SSI are among the programs that work to lift families out of poverty. Even counting only part of the Child Tax Credit, the Census Bureau finds low-income tax credits lift more than 5 million children out of poverty. SNAP lifts a similar number of people out of poverty. Congress’ first order of business should be to protect and expand these programs. And yet, with only a few days before the end of the fiscal year, the Congressional majority is divided and apparently paralyzed. Every day they fail to act risks stalling the modest progress only just beginning to reach the poor.

“The proportion of Americans without health insurance has dropped substantially, with 10.4 percent reporting they had been uninsured for the whole year in 2014. Tax credits for low-income families encourage work and lift millions out of poverty. SNAP (formerly food stamps) helps children to grow up healthy and keeps millions from being poor. Poverty rates would be higher without rental assistance, and young children receive lifelong economic benefits from Head Start. And yet, right wing members of Congress threaten all these programs. Today’s reports show that the economic recovery is offering only halting and inadequate progress for the poor, but that government services make an important difference. That makes it even more essential that Congress invests in these programs, and rejects cuts and shutdowns.”

Sample tweets to share:

  • New @uscensusbureau data show in 2014, there were 46.7 mil Americans in poverty. Read @CoalitiononHN statement here:
  • 46.7 mil Americans in poverty is too high. @uscensusbureau data show we need more investments, not less #StopTheCuts
  • Economic recovery has not been shared – @uscensusbureau data show 46.7 mil in poverty. #StopTheCuts #TalkPoverty
  • .@uscensusbureau data show 46.7 mil still in poverty – Congress must #StopTheCuts to proven gov’t programs that work!

Click here for CHN’s First Look and visit our Census Poverty Data resource page for more data and additional resources as they become available.

The post Unshared Recovery: 46 Million Poor; Poverty Rate Unchanged appeared first on Coalition on Human Needs.

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Local and National Partnership Expands Economic Opportunities for Louisville's Disabled Community

Posted by tlentz on 09/22/2015

Louisville's partnership formed 18 months ago with the National Disability Institute’s (NDI) LEAD Center, Louisville Metro Community Services and Bank On Louisville led to a community collaborative bringing together disability advocates and representatives from the employment, financial services, workforce and asset development communities. Read more

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A&O Network Members Kick Off 12-month Financial Capability Integration Projects

Posted by klawton on 09/18/2015

In August, eight A&O Network members kicked off a 12-month financial capability integration planning and implementation project supported by CFED. These eight organizations were selected from a pool of organizations that attended statewide workshops hosted by Network Convening Leaders in Idaho, Oregon, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Washington and Minnesota.

The projects aim to integrate financial capability services into a variety of programs serving survivors of domestic violence, veterans, expectant mothers and families of newborns, Head Start families, affordable housing residents, and adult and youth workforce development clients.

Over the next 3-6 months, these organizations will receive support from CFED as they use tools from Building Financial Capability: A Planning Guide for Integrated Services to design a comprehensive plan to integrate financial capability services into existing programs. By February, the participating organizations will launch implementation and ongoing tracking of their projects.

The organizations and a brief project description are included below:

  • A&O Network Leader, NeighborImpact (OR) plans to integrate -in-house financial capability services available through its HomeSource program into its Head Start program.
  • Metro Family Services (OR) plans to integrate financial capability services available through its Family Support Programs into its early childhood/kindergarten readiness program, “Ready Set Go,” and its community school program at Lot Whitcomb Elementary School.
  • Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota plans to integrate financial capability services, such as those available through its Financial Counseling program, into its Behavioral Health program serving veterans.
  • Thurston Asset Building Coalition (WA) is partnering with Family Support Center, Mercy Housing and Enterprise for Equity to integrate financial capability services into two affordable housing locations: Family Support Center’s Pear Blossom Place Family Homeless Shelter and Mercy Housing’s Evergreen Vista Apartments.
  • Bingham Crisis Center (ID) is partnering with A&O Network Leader, Partners for Prosperity, to integrate financial capability services into programs for survivors of domestic violence.
  • Sojourner Family Peace Center (WI) plans to partner with several financial capability service providers in their community to integrate services into their programs for survivors of domestic violence.
  • CAP Services (WI) is integrating financial capability services available through its Human Development programs into two of its workforce development programs: Fresh Start, a Youth Build program for at-risk youth ages 16-24, and its Skills Enhancement program, which serves individuals working at least part-time who wish to pursue occupations with better pay and employer-sponsored health insurance.
  • Lutheran Social Services (ND) plans to integrate financial capability services into its Healthy Families program, which supports expectant parents and families of newborns.

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Failure to Expand Medicaid Keeping Health Coverage Out of Reach for Many Struggling Mississippians

Posted by esivak on 09/18/2015

Mississippi’s improvement in health coverage was not what it could have been in 2014, because the state has not expanded Medicaid coverage to more residents who cannot otherwise afford health insurance.

The Census Bureau today released the country’s official data on health insurance rates, which shows that 14.5 percent of Mississippians were uninsured in 2014, only a small decrease from 2013 (2.6 percentage points). This decrease would have been much larger had the state expanded Medicaid coverage.

States that have expanded Medicaid coverage collectively had a lower share of people without insurance (9.8%) than states that did not expand Medicaid (13.5%) (See Chart). Moreover, the effect of Medicaid expansion is particularly clear when you look at the uninsured rates among persons living below the poverty level. In 2014, in Medicaid expansion states the rate of uninsured among persons living at or below poverty fell to 25 percent while in “non-expansion states” the rate of uninsured among those in poverty was almost 40 percent.

Although Mississippi has not expanded Medicaid coverage, other provisions of the Affordable Care Act are helping reduce the number of Mississippians without health insurance, which is why Mississippi did have a small decrease in people without health insurance. People have gained health coverage through the state’s new health insurance marketplace, which allows people to easily compare prices and benefits of health care plans. Through the marketplace, some people who do not make enough to afford private insurance receive federal subsidies to help pay their premiums and reduce their out-of-pocket health costs, but a family of four who makes less than $23,550 does not qualify for this help because they should be receiving Medicaid instead.

Mississippi has so far passed up a big opportunity to make more progress through the Affordable Care Act, leaving thousands of Mississippians without the health care they need. In order to strengthen state-run Medicaid programs, the federal government agreed to pay all the costs of providing Medicaid to people making up to just $32,500 per year for a family of four (138 percent of the federal poverty rate) through 2016, and then no less than 90 percent of the costs thereafter. But the Supreme Court left it up to the state to decide whether to extend their benefits to these people and accept the federal funding to do so, and unfortunately Mississippi has not yet done so.

Making matters worse, residents of states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid like Mississippi had higher uninsured rates than those in Medicaid expansion states to begin with. In other words, the hole was deeper at the start, and we have done less to dig ourselves out.

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Prosperity Miami initiative kicks off in Overtown

Posted by dlevine on 09/18/2015

Local organizations launch effort to provide direct services and to increase civic engagement in Miami-Dade County neighborhoods

The effort, funded by Allegany Franciscan Ministries, aims to provide residents with direct services while engaging them in a dialogue about policy issues impacting their communities and how they can become involved in creating change

MIAMI, Florida – On September 14, 2015, Catalyst Miami, a nonprofit organization helping families become prosperous and civically engaged, officially kicked off “Prosperity Miami,” an initiative to offer direct services and to increase civic engagement in Miami-Dade County. Catalyst Miami has partnered with South Florida Voices for Working Families and New Florida Majority Education Fund to canvass ten neighborhoods and to engage 8,000 families. The goal is two-fold: to provide families with essential services and to connect them with opportunities to become civically active. The civic engagement opportunities include voter registration, U.S. citizenship application, participation in leadership development programs, participation in community organizing trainings, and more.

For many low-income families, accessing direct services is a challenge. The family caretaker has to worry about making an appointment, getting permission to miss work, accessing transportation, figuring out childcare, and, most importantly, losing income. These challenges make it hard for families to access social services that can improve their quality of life. It’s also a challenge to engage in civic activities when there are so many other pressing issues of concern.

To mitigate these challenges, Catalyst Miami will offer on-the-spot enrollment services at weekly Prosperity Miami neighborhood fairs, as well as community health fairs, churches, job sites, school open houses, and back-to-school events in ten neighborhoods, including Coconut Grove, Downtown, Florida City, Hialeah, Homestead, Liberty City, Little Haiti, Little Havana, Overtown, and Sweetwater. According to U.S. Census data, these ten neighborhoods have the highest numbers of uninsured and underinsured children and families, families at risk of becoming uninsured, families medically underserved due to low-income/asset-limited status, and individuals and families impacted by the five-year ban on permanent residents.

“Catalyst Miami is eager to begin this pilot and reboot our Prosperity Campaign. We are ready to bring our services to our clients, meeting them as close to home as possible. We are also grateful for our partners in this endeavor. New Florida Majority Education Fund and South Florida Voices for Working Families bring community connections and civic engagement opportunities to Prosperity Miami, helping us fulfill our mission,” said Gretchen Beesing, Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst Miami.

Prosperity Miami kicked off in Overtown at the YWCA of Greater Miami, located on 351 NW 5th Street, on Monday, September 14th. Dozens of canvassers knocked on doors from 3:00-5:00pm to inform families about the services and opportunities being offered.


Catalyst Miami is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting families and community organizations by improving health, education, and economic outcomes in South Florida.

New Florida Majority Education Fund is a statewide organization working to increase the voting power and influence of African Americans, Latinos, new immigrants, and working families towards a more inclusive, equitable Florida.

South Florida Voices for Working Families is a coalition of community, union and faith-based organizations working together to win improvements in the quality of life for working people in the South Florida area.

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The 5th Annual Resource Day

Posted by acoday on 09/11/2015

On Saturday, August 29 , 2015 over 1,000 Seattle-King County residents attended the 5th Annual Resource Day & Back to School Event (formerly known as Financial Resource Day and Bridging the Gap) at the Rainier Community Center.

This one day event provided a connection to 74 financial and community service providers and 30 employers all in one location—brought to you this year by the King County Housing Authority and the Seattle Housing Authority with support from the Financial Empowerment Network | Seattle-King County and WorkSource Seattle-King County.

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CFPB Releases Thousands of Consumer Complaints

Posted by lmullany on 07/27/2015

This week marks the 5th anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency committed to protecting consumers from abusive financial products and practices. Over the past four years, we have seen the CFPB return over $10 billion to more than 17 million consumers tricked by deceptive financial practices, consider new regulations on payday lenders and prepaid cards, and successfully sue for-profit colleges for abusive lending practices.

The CFPB's successes are thanks, in large part, to real stories shared by residents across the country. CFPB receives thousands of complaints every week about issues with banks, debt collection, paydays loans, student loans, prepaid cards, and many other areas. Take, for instance, Christine, a Chicago resident who shared her experience with payday loans in a recent video created by the Woodstock Institute:

The CFPB has been receiving complaints on issues such as those faced by Christine for years. Just recently, the CFPB made its Consumer Complaint Database public. To date, it has 421,413 complaints. For the first time, consumers' concerns with financial products and services are easily accessible to the public. You can now read consumer narratives and analyze consumer complaint data from around the country.

Here are just a few short examples of consumer narratives from the 558 complaints filed in Illinois:

Penn Credit Collection called my job requesting payment on a bill I do not even owe. The company keeps changing their number and calls my job and cell phone constantly. I do not owe the debt they are trying to collect.

I received a call from a company, XXXX XXXX, stating that I owed a payday loan that I never took. I did look into one years ago, but the fees were outrageous and I didn't finalize anything. They stated that it was my responsibilty to prove I didn't take it and that the fact that they had my information was enough for them to prove I did. All I have is a phone number for them, XXXX and after searching online, I found that they are doing this to alot of consumers.

Used XXXX to load money on my prepaid PayPower XXXX card but it was not added to my account. Have a confirmation receipt from XXXX, have the actual hard copy of the receipt that I have emailed XXXX times to the company and called close to a dozen times, spoke with several supervisors but yet over and over again they pass the buck and can not offer a resolution. It has been almost a month and still they have not credited my money.

How does this help consumers?

Consumers can use this as a source when researching financial products and services. You can view complaints filed against different companies. Consumers can also see what issues others are having, and can learn what practices are a red flag.

Also, by making the complaints public, it may encourage others to come forward and report their concerns. The ability to record a complaint is an important tool for consumers, with 98% of people getting timely responses from companies when they file a complaint with the CFPB.

How does this help advocates?

Advocates can download and analyze the data to support local and state campaigns to strengthen consumer protections. For a more nuanced picture of what’s happening in communities, advocates can also access consumer narratives by zip code or by state. With a better understanding the challenges facing residents and the companies most at fault, this data can help us create real policy solutions in Illinois.

Take a look at CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database, and spread the word to consumers and advocates about this great tool!

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