Possible Focus Areas

Big Picture

At our core, when we each envision poverty, we are grounded in our own perception of what it can look like in everyday life. When you work on policy change – we do not lose the image of an individual person or child – rather we look at the system and ask ourselves what can be done to change the picture.

The volunteer at the food bank, the philanthropist, the policy advocate, and the family struggling to put food on the table are all change agents. Your work is ongoing and this, my friends, is only the beginning of the 2016 Legislative Session.

Let’s see what you can do…

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Understanding the Legislature

The 104th Legislature, 2nd Session begins this week!

There are some certainties that Coalition for a Strong Nebraska members can count on during these first 10 days of bill introduction. The Unicameral will see legislation introduced that would fight poverty, legislation introduced that would foster the growth of poverty, and legislation introduced that simply forgets poverty exists in Nebraska. Look here for updates in all three categories (as prioritized by the Coalition) in the months ahead.

While tax policy, medicaid, education, and prison reform have been widely cited as key issues this session, addressing the $132 million dollar projected budget shortfall will be a priority looming over these and all policy discussions.

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Putting Paid Family Leave for Nebraskans in the Spotlight

From the Omaha World-Herald:

Backers put paid family leave for Nebraskans in the spotlight

By Barbara Soderlin World-Herald staff writer | Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 1:00 am

Her daughter’s bout with meningitis was a health emergency that quickly became a financial emergency for Angie Gross of Omaha and her family.

Gross told an audience Tuesday that paid family leave time would have meant less stress and fewer difficult budget choices when she lost her job in 2012, just as her health care, travel and household expenses were rising because of her 6-year-old’s care and rehabilitation needs.

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Living Paycheck to Paycheck in Nebraska

The Coalition for a Strong Nebraska is collaborating with the Women’s Fund of Omaha and Film Streams to host a screening of the film PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF KATRINA GILBERT on Tuesday, October 28th at 7pm. Tickets to this event are FREE and can be reserved in advance by contacting molly@filmstreams.org. A limited number of seats are available, so making reservations in advance is highly recommended. Limit of 2 tickets per person.

Filmed over the course of one year in Chattanooga, Tenn., PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK follows Katrina Gilbert, a 30-year-old single mother of three working as a certified nursing assistant in an extended-care facility, while striving to address her own health-care issues. Overworked, underpaid, uninsured and lacking support, she chooses daily between purchasing her own medication and paying for the needs of her children, which often leaves her struggling to make ends meet.Following the film, a panel moderated by Tiffany Seibert Joekel, Director of the Coalition for a Strong Nebraska, will provide insights into struggles faced by families surviving paycheck to paycheck and what we can do to better support working families in our state. Panelists will include Nebraska State Senator Tanya Cook, Heart Ministry Center Self-Sufficiency Programs Facilitator Ericka Guinan, and Heart Ministry Center SNAP Outreach Specialist Aja Alfaro.

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Community Eligibility – A New Opportunity to Help Kids Learn

We want to do everything we can to help kids learn. Too often, kids come to school hungry, leaving them unable to focus on their #1 job: learning. There is a new option – called “Community Eligibility” – available to high-poverty schools to ensure that hunger does not act as a barrier to learning during the school day.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), part of the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, allows high-poverty schools to provide breakfasts and lunches at no charge to every student. To be eligible for CEP, school buildings must have a very high number of children who have already been identified as low-income or vulnerable (for example, they are eligible for other public assistance programs or Head Start, in foster care, migrant, homeless, or runaway).

CEP was phased in over time across the country and will now be available to Nebraska schools in the 2014-2015 school year. CEP has been incredibly successful for the early adopting states – increasing participation by children in school meal programs, reducing the administrative burden for schools, and increasing federal revenues into school districts. In short, it allows for a healthier student body and a healthier school meal budget.

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How Can We Build A New Poor People’s Movement in Nebraska?

Article originally posted on TalkPoverty.org:

A New Poor People’s Movement Must Have Leadership From Poor People – By Joel Berg

Imagine if the U.S. women’s suffragette movement had been led entirely by men, and its rank-and-file had been mostly male. The movement would surely have been far less galvanizing and assertive. American women might still be denied the vote.

While some white activists made the ultimate sacrifice – their lives – on behalf of equal rights for African Americans, had the Civil Rights Movement been led and populated primarily by white people, that campaign would also have been far less passionate, insistent, and effective. The Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts might stillbe languishing in Congress.

Likewise, if the LGBT crusade had merely waited for straight Americans to voluntarily grant them the right to marry, they would probably not be able to obtain a marriage license in any state, and certainly not in the 18 states where LGBT Americans can now legally marry.

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SNAP, Medicaid Help Kim Rebuild Her Life in an Unfamiliar Nebraska Town

The following story was posted on TalkPoverty.org: http://talkpoverty.org/2014/05/28/kim/

“Rebuilding Our Life in an Unfamiliar Town” by Kim

In June of 2010, I found myself fleeing domestic violence without any money, unemployed, homeless, and with my two children. Scared for my safety and overwhelmed with the responsibility of rebuilding our life in an unfamiliar town, I had no idea where to begin.

A local crisis center referred me to the Blue Valley Community Action Partnership for assistance with food and housing. After listening to my situation, the staff treated me with dignity as they provided my family with nutritious food from the food pantry, clothing, household goods, and new backpacks full of school supplies for my children. My family was enrolled in the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program, which enabled me to find a safe home by providing temporary financial assistance for rent and utilities.

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Inequality for All – How to take action in Nebraska

“The question is not inequality per se, the question is when does inequality become a problem? How much inequality can we tolerate and still have an economy that’s working for everyone and still have a democracy that’s functioning…the most important thing to understand is that consumer spending is 70% of the United States’ economy. And the middle class is the heart of that consumer spending. So it’s your middle class that keeps the economy going. There’s no way you can sustain the economy over the long term without a strong, vibrant and growing middle class. It can’t be done.” – Robert Reich, Inequality for All

The Coalition for a Strong Nebraska recently co-sponsored two showings of the film, INEQUALITY FOR ALL – one in Lincoln on January 27th and another in Omaha on February 6th. The goal of these events was to increase understanding of the causes and impact of income inequality and the important role the middle class plays in our economy. It was our hope that these events would elevate the level of public discourse around income inequality and catalyze meaningful conversations about what we can do to support a strong, vibrant middle class in Nebraska.

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