From UCC Justice and Witness Ministries (http://www.ucc.org/justice/):
Every year, a national coalition of faith organizations dedicated to cutting poverty in half by 2020 comes together for the Fighting Poverty with Faith initiative. The 2010 mobilization focuses on two issues: 1) protecting critical human needs programs during these challenging economic times; and 2) advocating for new policies that enable more families to find employment and move toward economic self-sufficiency.
Plan a Fighting Poverty with Faith Event!
“Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy” (Proverbs 31:9).
As people of faith, we have a strong tradition of helping those who are less fortunate—providing them with bare necessities: food, housing, and clothing. But our soup kitchens and our shelters are only short-term solutions. Our efforts to sustain our brothers and sisters living in poverty must be complemented with a serious plan of action from our political leaders to reduce the number of needy. By speaking out collectively during the month of October, we will expand the national conversation on the need to protect critical programs and produce policies that engender economic opportunity. We will do this with the aim of spurring our political leadership to more aggressively pursue an anti-poverty agenda.
As a leader on the local level, you can become a part of Fighting Poverty with Faith by organizing an event or campaign. There are so many ways to raise up issues of poverty in your community! Listed below are some ideas and resources for planning your activism as part of the 2010 Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization. Don’t forget, once you’ve planned your event, to upload the details to the Fighting Poverty with Faith event calendar at http://fightingpovertywithfaith.com/f2/?page_id=58.
As a first step in the planning process, read a memo from the Fighting Poverty with Faith steering committee (http://fightingpovertywithfaith.com/f2/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/MEMO-recommended-local-events-for-FPWF-Sept-2010.pdf). It is full of programming ideas. Once you’ve completed that, please look below for resources specific to individual types of events.
Placing a poverty-focused opinion editorial in your local newspaper is great way to raise the profile of poverty issues in your community. In the hopes of assisting those interested, Fighting Poverty with Faith has drafted a sample op-ed on which you may base yours. It can be found at http://fightingpovertywithfaith.com/f2/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/FPWF-Sample-Op-Ed-9-22.pdf.
For those interested in working with experienced media professionals on an opinion piece, the Coalition on Human Needs is offering such an opportunity. To learn more, please e-mail Maricela Donahue at MDonahue@chn.org.
Candidate Forums (Host Your Own or Ask Questions at a Public Event)
Poverty-focused candidate questions written by Fighting Poverty with Faith (http://fightingpovertywithfaith.com/f2/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/FPWF-Sample-Op-Ed-9-22.pdf)
Tips for Attending a Town Hall Meeting or Candidate Forum (aka “bird-dogging”) from RESULTS (http://www.results.org/skills_center/advocacy_how_tos/working_with_congress/milestone_11/)
Many non-profit organizations have questions about getting involved in politics and elections. Below you can read through two guides for non-profit organizations that provide guidelines and best practices for events you may be planning during election season, including candidates forums and voter registration drives:
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Election Guide: Called to Be a Public Church (http://archive.elca.org/advocacy/publicchurch/publicchurch08.pdf)
Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ Guide for Election Year Practices: Jewish Values in Action (https://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5145/images/Voting%20Guide%202010%20FINAL.pdf)
National Council of Jewish Women’s Election Guide: Promote the Vote, Protect the Vote (http://www.ncjw.org/content_579.cfm)
In the same vein, here is a sample candidate questionnaire created by the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco (http://fightingpovertywithfaith.com/f2/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/candidates_questionnaire_JCRC.pdf)
Poverty Simulation Materials
This program, created by the Missouri Association for Community Action (MACA), is a powerful tool. On their informative website, listed above, you may purchase a kit (http://www.communityaction.org/Poverty%20Simulation.aspx). Alternatively, in most states there are individuals or organizations that already own the kit and will come conduct the simulation with you. The Community Action Association of Pennsylvania has conducted these simulations and has the materials. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Get Press For Your Event
FPWF hosted a webinar on September 14 that detailed strategies for attracting the media to your community’s FPWF events. To view the Powerpoint slides from that webinar, go to http://fightingpovertywithfaith.com/f2/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/JCPA-webinar-earning-media.ppt. Additionally, you may download an event-planning checklist (with reminders for gaining press attention) at http://fightingpovertywithfaith.com/f2/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Earning-Media-102.doc.
Contact Your Local Officials
Your representatives will be home in their districts often as election season approaches and you can set up meetings with them to share with them the goals of Fighting Poverty with Faith. As their constituent, you have the power to convince your officials that voters care strongly about human needs programs and job creation legislation.
Senator Robert Casey: http://casey.senate.gov
Senator Arlen Specter: http://specter.senate.gov
Your Representative: http://www.house.gov