poverty hands

Blacks and Jews Join Hands to Fight Poverty and Racism

Prominent members of the African American and Jewish communities from across the country gathered in Detroit to team up and confront poverty and racism.  From June 27-30, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Metropolitan Detroit hosted the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) Mission to Detroit. Working to facilitate interfaith and interracial efforts to eradicate poverty, the mission gave participants many ideas to take back to their home communities along with a new and positive perspective of the city of Detroit.  

Among the participants were Detroit’s own Ben Falik, JCRC board member and co-founder of Summer in the City, a volunteer program that engages teens and young adults with the city of Detroit, and QuanTez Pressley, Director of Community Outreach and speechwriter for Detroit City Council president Charles Pugh.  In addition to Detroit, participants came from Denver, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Nashville, Providence and Silicon Valley. From a state representative to a JCRC chair to an incoming president of a local NAACP office, the mission brought together a diverse group of people who were passionate about tackling issues of race and poverty.

 At the mission’s opening dinner, Arthur Horwitz, publisher of the Detroit Jewish News, and Bankole Thompson, Senior Editor of the Michigan Chronicle, joined together to serve as speakers and panelists for the group. Laying the groundwork for conversations about ... 


06:16 PM Jul 11, 2011 - 8 comments permalink

Confronting Poverty In Detroit

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?


From June 27th – 30th, Jewish and African American community leaders from seven communities, including Detroit, Denver, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Nashville, Providence and Silicon Valley, joined together in Detroit – a city that has come to embody many of the modern day struggles of poverty in America – to examine the role of black-Jewish partnerships in creating positive change.  Over the course of four days, during which community leaders met with organizations and individuals working to address issues of poverty and revive the city of Detroit, Hillel’s famous three questions – “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” – became increasingly relevant.  

Participants of the Jewish/African American Community Leaders trip to Detroit

Participants observed a city not only struggling to overcome the numerous and interrelated ... 


04:28 PM Jul 07, 2011 - 2 comments permalink

Diverse Set of Leaders Join Together to Battle Poverty

African-American, Jewish activists from across U.S. share lessons

Detroit — African-American and Jewish community leaders from around the country are expected to wrap up today a conference in Detroit about poverty.

The Mission to Detroit conference, sponsored by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, brought together activists from both groups to explore ways to battle poverty in their cities.

The year's conference participants came from around the country, including Nashville, Tenn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Providence, R.I.

Jim Vincent, the president of the NAACP branch in Providence, came to Detroit along with Marty Cooper, community relations director for the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, and Scott Libman, a board member of the Jewish Alliance.

The three men spent a part of Wednesday afternoon weeding an urban garden at the Romanowski Park on Lonyo Street near Livernois. The three said they are taking note of Detroit residents' use of blighted lots for growing food.

Rhode Island has a 10.9 percent jobless rate, one of the highest in the country.

"Urban gardening is great because it's about people coming together around a positive issue like food," Vincent said.

Libman said the conference has given community leaders a chance to look at what they can do to help their cities

Although Rhode Island "has not reached the level ... 


06:11 PM Jun 30, 2011 - 5 comments permalink

Jewish, African-American Leaders Convene in Detroit for Anti-Poverty Conference

Jewish and African-American leaders from across the country are in Detroit this week to bond while finding ways to fight poverty at a time when the problem is growing.

Sponsored by the national office of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the program involves three days of activities with about 20 Jewish and African-American leaders who will be paired up to foster friendship. In addition to fighting poverty, the goal of the program is to improve relations between the two minority communities.

"It's not as close as it was," Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said of black-Jewish ties. But "there's still an underlying connection."

Starting today, the participants will be meeting with Focus: HOPE, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, among other agencies, to hear how groups are trying to fight poverty in a struggling region.

In Detroit, more than 36% of residents are living poverty while across Michigan, the poverty rate is more than 22%, according to 2009 U.S. Census figures. The program will include leaders from Denver, New York and Nashville, Tenn., among other cities.

"We're facing a world where there will be more and more poverty," Gutow said. "There will be more and more poor people in the streets of our country. And so having relationships will be very important to resolve the problem."

After the gathering ... 


06:14 PM Jun 27, 2011 - 6 comments permalink

Jewish and African American Leaders Join in Detroit to Build and Explore Anti-Poverty Partnerships

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs will bring African American and Jewish leaders from communities across the country to Detroit next week to build on existing interfaith and interracial partnerships and deepen their engagement in anti-poverty work.

“The African American / Jewish Community Leaders Mission is one of the most personal, intensive, and impactful programs that we do each year,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “Participants will spend these four days in Detroit’s inner city learning about the impact of poverty on hundreds of thousands of Detroit’s neediest citizens. We will meet with non-profits, activists, and government officials who are making a real difference in one of America’s poorest cities and are working to revitalize their community with new and inventive ideas.  In past years, the African American and Jewish Community Leaders Mission has been to Birmingham and Montgomery, as well as two visits to New Orleans. This year, the JCPA hopes to help catalyze new relationships in Detroit, a city where challenges related to race and poverty are so keenly felt and where creative responses have emerged as beacons of hope. By learning from the experiences in Detroit together, our participants, representing Jewish and African American groups from their communities, will return home with a new sense of opportunity for cooperation and innovative approaches to fighting poverty.”

Gutow continued, “This is not a ... 


06:08 PM Jun 20, 2011 - 10 comments permalink

The Issue of the Debt Ceiling

10:15 AM May 20, 2011

On May 16th, the U.S. Treasury Department reached the $14.3 trillion limit on the amount the federal government can borrow, known as the debt limit. The debt is the total amount of money the government owes, made up of public debt and debt held by federal accounts (such as social security and Medicare). The debt ceiling is the total amount that the Treasury Department can borrow, which is set by Congress. It can be thought of as similar to the limit on a personal credit card. In a letter to Congress at the beginning of May, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner explained that the Treasury Department would take extraordinary measures to make sure the U.S. government has enough money to extend its borrowing until the beginning of August. By August 2nd Congress must vote to raise the debt ceiling or risk tremendous national and international fall out.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, “Since 1960, Congress has acted 78 separate times to permanently raise, temporarily extend, or revise the definition of the debt limit—49 times under Republican presidents and 29 times under Democratic presidents.” Despite this fact, a vocal opposition has arisen in Congress, speaking out against raising the debt ceiling. According to a National Priorities Project webinar on the subject, 68% of Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling. But it is commonly believed that many are incorrectly ... 


04:35 PM May 20, 2011 - 8 comments permalink

Budget Stuff: Reform Ambivalent about Obama Deficit Speech, JCPA Defends Domestic Programs, President Defends Foreign Aid

I was wondering how Jewish progressives would respond to President Obama's big speech on deficit reduction on Wednesday – a speech that many critics called long on rhetoric, short on specifics.

Now we know; the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the beacon of progressive Jewish activism in Washington, wasn't too impressed.

In a statement, Rabbi David Saperstein, the RAC director, praised the President for rejecting “in no uncertain terms the most problematic parts” of a much tougher budget proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the House Budget Committee, that would drastically alter Medicare and Medicaid.

“President Obama's solutions differ from Ryan's in their commitment to fairness and their willingness to raise additional revenue to climb out of the deficit crisis, while asserting the need for shared sacrifice in restoring fiscal order,” Saperstein said.

But then the “but” clause: “We must note, however, that while the President's rhetoric depicts a vision of America steeped in the twin goals of economic justice and fiscal soundness, his policy prescriptions would not adequately bring that vision to fruition. Eschewing, rightly, the House leadership's preference to seek savings by shifting costs and risk to individuals, he offered insufficient alternatives.”

In particular, the RAC is unhappy that Obama did not call for an immediate repeal of tax cuts for Americans earning ... 


05:35 PM Apr 15, 2011 - 14 comments permalink

H.R. 1: An Attack on Low-and Moderate-Income Families


01:51 PM Mar 31, 2011

In late February, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, a far-reaching piece of legislation that sets out to cut $61 billion in spending from the remainder of the FY2011 budget. The draconian cuts incorporated in this bill include the elimination of such programs as Title X (family planning), the Green Jobs Innovation Fund, Americorp, and Hunger-Free Communities. Even more programs are seriously reduced such as LIHEAP (a program that provides heating and cooling assistance to low-income people), WIA (the Workforce Investment Act, which serves 9 million people in finding jobs and providing them with job training), community health centers, housing for the elderly and persons with disabilities, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) programs, and Headstart. If signed in to law, H.R. 1 would cost America about 700,000 jobs.

A new study released by the Coalition on Human Needs illustrates the seriousness of these cuts and what is at risk if the leadership in the House is successful with this piece of legislation:

  • 218,000 young children would not be able to receive Headstart.
  • 9.4 million college students would lose some or all of their Pell Grants.
  • 81,000 low-income people, mostly seniors and some ... 


    04:43 PM Mar 31, 2011 - 8 comments permalink

    Ending Employment Barriers for the Disabled


    10:24 AM Feb 25, 2011

    This past year we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This landmark piece of civil rights legislation made it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities. Still, many of the goals set up in the original legislation have yet to be realized and it remains a sad reality that Americans with disabilities face specific social and economic challenges in this country. This is especially true when discussing the related factors of disability and poverty.

    According to a September 2009 report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, “Nearly two-thirds of working-age adults who experience consistent income poverty—more than 36 months of income poverty during a 48-month period—have one or more disabilities. People with disabilities are much more likely to experience various forms of material hardship—including food insecurity, not getting needed medical or dental care, and not being able to pay rent, mortgage, and utility bills—than people without disabilities, even after controlling for income and other characteristics.” The income poverty rate for persons with disabilities is between two and three times the rate for persons without disabilities. The rate might be even higher since many poverty measures do not ... 


    04:45 PM Feb 25, 2011 - 4 comments permalink

    Putting America Back to Work: The Green Way


    02:58 PM Feb 10, 2011

    This week's Confronting Poverty is a joint effort by the JCPA and COEJL

    In President Obama’s State of the Union address last month, the President discussed a number of ways he will try to revitalize the U.S. economy and put Americans back to work. He discussed the creation of jobs in the infrastructure, healthcare, and education fields, but focused most on the potential for our economy from innovations and investments in clean energy. President Obama discussed a variety of ways we can green our economy and build up our workforce. But a new workforce requires training so that skilled workers can adapt to newer forms of technology, construction, transportation, and manufacturing.

    This week organizations, union leaders, business leaders, and environmentalists from around the country will be gathering in Washington for the Blue Green Alliance’s Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference. The JCPA and COEJL are co-conveners of this conference. One topic of conversation bound to be discussed is how we put Americans back to work while training them to take part in the new green economy?

    One solution is the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), set to be reauthorized this year. WIA authorizes the nation’s federally funded workforce development system and provides funding ... 


    04:46 PM Feb 10, 2011 - 8 comments permalink

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