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Will this poverty coalition create change?

Faith-based leaders, policy institutes and nonprofit experts gathered in Washington this week to discuss the initiatives and offer perspectives concerning President Obama’s current budget proposal. As the economic downturn spirals, analysts predict nearly 10 million Americans will fall into poverty. The group has formed a coalition called the Mobilization to End Poverty, which hopes to work with Congress in pushing mandates to assist poor communities with healthcare, energy and education.
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Faith-based leaders, policy institutes and nonprofit experts gathered in Washington this week to discuss the initiatives and offer perspectives concerning President Obama’s current budget proposal. As the economic downturn spirals, analysts predict nearly 10 million Americans will fall into poverty. The group has formed a coalition called the Mobilization to End Poverty, which hopes to work with Congress in pushing mandates to assist poor communities with healthcare, energy and education.

President Obama has committed to cut domestic poverty by half within 10 years, and extreme global poverty by 2015. The Mobilization to End Poverty initiative combines many religious leaders with activists to combat the domestic and global poverty crisis. The coalition views the current budget as a “moral document that reveals our priorities.” More than 1,000 faith leaders and activists with the Mobilization to End Poverty group will convene in Washington, D.C., April 26-29 to discuss poverty initiatives.

Jim Wallis, President and founder of Sojourners, a Christian-based social network, spearheads the Mobilization to End Poverty. During a recent coalition meeting, Wallis stated: “Fiscal responsibility is often sought by ignoring the lower income people. We’re encouraged by the priorities of this budget, education, health care and energy.”

As Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, Bob Greenstein is an expert on the federal budget. Greenstein views the current budget as an extension of the economic recovery package. While consumer demand continues to dwindle, the budget proposes to put more money in the pockets of low- and moderate-income families. The budget upgrades resources to the poor. Some of the main initiatives are universal health care, refundable tax credits and improvement to the child match credit, which would benefit more than 15 million U.S. children.

The current budget offers new resources to combat the poverty and disease globally, while proposing to cut the deficit by trillions of dollars.

Another member of the coalition, House Majority Whip James Clayton, states, “We all must be active advocates for reducing poverty.” Beyond increasing monetary aid for the poor, the budget tackles education—including an emphasis on the importance of education outside the liberal arts community. It also says that increasing post-secondary education can effectively train workers for thousands of manufacturing positions.

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Overall, the Mobilization to End Poverty group believes that “change must come from the bottom up.” Ray Offenheiser, president of OXFAM America and member of the coalition, states, “There is a tremendous power of individuals that are motivated by their faith.”

What impact do you see this having on your community? Do you think real change can come of these efforts?

*photo credit: Joshua Davis

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