Week 22: Daring to Dream: Generational Poverty

Week 22: Daring to Dream: Generational Poverty

Daring to Dream: Generational Poverty
Week twenty-two
Recent census data states there has been a decline in poverty in the U.S. over the last two years. (1)  A healthy economy is certainly necessary to fight poverty, but history suggests that public policy reforms are also needed to precipitate substantial declines in the poverty rate. Research shows that policies directly linked to work, like the earned income tax credit or childcare assistance, can increase employment.  
Education and training providers working more closely with private employers to ensure that workers are trained to meet today's labor market demands. (2)  So how do we equip the next generation to be prepared for the workforce when they are challenged both economically and educationally?   Dr. Kenneth S. Robinson, President/CEO of the United Way of the Mid-South, shares his insight on generational poverty and approaches to breaking the cycle.
Dr. Kenneth S. Robinson, President /CEO of the United Way of the Mid-South, speaks on generational poverty.
Donna Beegle conducted a study of college graduates who grew up in three generations of poverty. In general, participants articulated that they experienced great shame and humiliation growing up in poverty. They believed that outsiders perceived poverty to be their fault. Participants faced physical, emotional, sociological, and economic barriers to literacy and education at all stages of their lives. 
Education continues to be considered the best escape from poverty. Schools are sometimes the first formal social agency a child personally experiences. It is there that self-worth is framed around clashes with formal communication styles (oral vs. written), feeling of belonging or inadequacies based on appearance, parents' jobs, housing, food, money, healthcare and control over one's life.  
Some factors that shifted participants' perceptions of self and their potential for academic success include teachers who are sensitive to the realities of poverty, willing to create emotional and physical spaces for learning opportunities and who incentivize lessons creatively; examination of the social culture of schools and leadership attitudes about generational poverty; and exposure to educated professionals and mentors through field trips, speakers and strong partnerships with agencies and organizations.  (3)
Until the authentic voices of the impoverished are heard from their perspectives, we cannot address social-class differences that create barriers to breaking the cycle of poverty.  
(1)  " Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016," United States Census Bureau, September 12, 2017.
(2)  "Work Supports are Key for Further Progress on Poverty," by Angela Rachidi, American Enterprise Institute, September 12, 2017
(3) " Overcoming the Silence of Generational Poverty," Talking Points, National Council of Teachers of English, October/November 2003.
A Reality Check on Poverty 
  1. Take the Poverty Quiz to learn more about the state of poverty in the U.S.  It may be different than what you thought.
  2. Check out this infographic entitled "Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: Two-Generation Solutions."  What role or action can you participate in to help someone today? What obstacles have you had to overcome to get to where you are today?  
  3. Read the article "How'd You Get Here," then find out your "American Dream Score." You may be surprised what has worked in your favor. Share your thoughts on our Facebook 50 Weeks of Action Group Page.
Another Way YOU CAN HELP People Experiencing Homelessness
(For All Ages)
Imagine yourself without a home. You have nowhere to bathe or brush your teeth. What if you don't have money to buy a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, or soap? How do you take care of your basic needs to keep yourself clean? You might depend on the generosity of strangers to take care of these needs. What can you do to help someone in this situation?
Armani Crews, age 6
Source: Artesha Crews
Ask your parents if you can create care packages, for the homeless to keep in their car for homeless people you see. 
instead of having a party!
For suggestions on how to do this, click LEARN MORE below. 
(For Middle and High School Students) 


Go to your library and check out, Almost Home by Kevin Ryan and Tina Kelley. This book tells the stories of six remarkable young people from across the US  and Canada, as they cope with life on the streets. Each teen eventually finds his or her way to Covenant House, one of the largest charities serving homeless and runaway youth in North America.  


Research shelters in your area that serve teens who are living on the streets. If your parents approve, inquire what you can do to help. This could be a perfect place to deliver care packages.  


Check out   11 Facts About Homeless Teens from 

DoSomething.org for facts and ideas on how YOU can take action to create positive change! Share and discuss this with your peers. 

For an idea about how yo u can help people experiencing
poverty or homelessness,  click below.
share your story! 
Do you work for an organization that addresses poverty head on? Have you received aid from an organization that helped you get on your feet? Tell us about it. Help someone else. Tell your story.  

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