Members of the Our Children, Our Future Campaign will showcase the coalition’s state-level initiatives to reduce child poverty at a Congressional briefing Friday, May 20, in Washington, D.C. They were one of only two state-based organizations nationwide to be invited.
The Our Children, Our Future Campaign is a statewide coalition of 177 congregations, community organizations, unions, chambers, and schools – dedicated to ending child poverty in the state.
Since 2012 the Campaign has won 21 policy victories that attempt to reduce child poverty and make West Virginia’s families healthier and more prosperous, all of which have passed with bi-partisan majorities. Past victories include extending health care to 165,275 working West Virginians; winning wage increases for 127,000+ more; cutting millions of dollars in government waste through juvenile justice and criminal justice reform; providing 3 million more meals to kids in schools; and ensuring that kids get 17 million hours of physical activity in school each year.
We are building a movement. There is no silver bullet, no outside company or government program that is going to save us. It is up to us to unite across race, across class, and across party lines to fight for our kids.
The Congressional briefing will take place at 2:30 p.m. in the Senate Dirksen Building, Room GD-11 on Friday, May 20. Co-presenters include Lincoln Nehring, president and CEO of Voices for Utah Children, and Bruce Lesley, president of the national bipartisan children’s advocacy group First Focus.
The Campaign is being spotlighted because of its innovative, grassroots approach to solving child poverty. Every year, the Campaign engages over 7,800 community leaders in a process to identify anti-poverty policies, turn those policies into a shared platform, and fight for that platform – putting over 1,400 people in the state capitol and holding candidate forums.
Their approach has started to spread. At the briefing, Campaign representatives will highlight a host of “sister” initiatives that have sprung up since the Campaign began in 2012.
In 2013, the Campaign joined with health partners to launch Try This WV – an effort that has organized, funded, and launched 99 community projects that promote healthy living and economic development. In 2014, the Campaign started organizing student chapters, mobilizing campuses around the state (we are now up to 18!). In 2015, the Campaign launched a WV Candidate Training Academy – training 108 West Virginians on how to run for local and statewide office. This year, they are producing a voter guide based on child poverty issues, which will be distributed to 32,000 unlikely voters.
More than one in four West Virginia children under age 6 currently live below the federal poverty line, and the state continues to rank poorly on indicators of health, education, and economic development.
It took us two generations to get ourselves into this crisis. It might take us two generations to get out of it. But it will be worth it. What is more important than making sure that every kid gets a fair shot at life?