While many families are buying all the extra fixings to make Thanksgiving dinner special, 79 percent of low-income households in Feeding America’s client base report “purchasing the cheapest food available, even if they knew it wasn’t the healthiest option, in an effort to provide enough food for their household.” We also know from Feeding America’s report, Hunger in America 2014, that food insecurity has been on the rise since the Great Recession: one in seven Americans rely on food banks to see them through. Viewed by race, the results are even more startling: One in four African Americans relies on a food bank; one in six Latinos. Meanwhile, some 45 million Americans rely on food stamps. It’s 2015, and hunger is still a huge problem in America. And it’s a problem inextricably linked to larger issues of economic hardship. In fact, many Americans who work face food insecurity, with studies finding that a growing share of food stamp recipients participate in the labor force. This is part of a broader story of the difficulties that low-wage workers face in making ends meet. Earlier this year, a study found that about 48 percent of home health care workers are on public assistance, as are 46 percent of child care workers and 52 percent of fast-food workers. Another big category of hungry people are older and disabled Americans on fixed incomes that fall short every month.
A new precedent was set recently when Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced a plan to establish 20 as the age of jurisdiction for the state’s juvenile justice system. This would make Connecticut the first state to presumptively include anyone over 18 in the juvenile justice system.Not surprisingly, the announcement was met with widespread praise from social justice and child welfare advocates. The Southern Poverty Law Center, the Vera Institute and the Connecticut Democratic Party all shared the news on social media feeds, many trumpeting it as a monumental breakthrough in the fight against over-incarceration.
Impact investing has been on a lot of people’s minds lately in philanthropy, including ours. We are curious about how different foundations imagine and develop their strategies, and the Heron Foundation is one funder that’s been a real leader in this area. As we’ve previously reported, Heron is working to move its full endowment of some $300 million into investments that align with its mission by the end of 2017.To learn more about what Heron is up to, we got on the phone with Toni Johnson, who is a vice president charged with forging the path for Heron’s long-term public influence and engagement strategy.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) provides grants and educational tools for children to develop financial skills with its Earn Your Future program.
As the economy continues to recover and social movements directed at addressing inequality continue to gain steam, one field of philanthropy that is in ascent is asset building, which helps low income people build up savings to expand their economic opportunity.
For children, one feature of the asset-building strategy is child savings accounts, with the goal of getting more children to start saving and building a nest egg for the future.
Scholars like Benjamin Friedman have demonstrated that economic growth helps drive any number of positive trends: improved human rights, better health, women’s empowerment, higher education attainment, and on and on.
Historically, though, explicit efforts to foster growth haven’t been all that high on the agenda of a philanthropic world that cares about all the things I just mentioned. In particular, funders haven’t tended to do a lot in the way of supporting entrepreneurs, whose new businesses create many of the new jobs that propel growth. Meanwhile, small business has been on the decline in the U.S. for the last decade, a trend that was greatly accelerated by the Great Recession, with new business creation plunging by 30 percent in the wake of the economic crash.
The high percentage of U.S. children living in poverty—one in five, at last count—hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. And while you’d think that would be a national scandal, this issue has just never had the political traction advocates have hoped.
Lately, though, things seem to be changing. Early childhood education is moving up on the national agenda and a new book by Robert Putnam on the deeply unequal lives of American children has received wide attention. Amid a growing debate over inequality, and also race, fresh opportunities are emerging to improve the lives of kids.