About Us

Who are we?

End Child Poverty in California (ECPCA) is a campaign jointly sponsored by GRACE End Child Poverty Institute and GRACE (Gather, Respect, Advocate, Change, Engage).

Daughters of Charity
GRACE Board of Directors

GRACE End Child Poverty Institute is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that uses advocacy, legislative advocacy and mobilization programs to achieve its mission.  The mission of GRACE End Child Poverty is to make a positive difference in the lives of low-income families and their children through value-based collaborations and by formulating, implementing, and expanding measures to reduce barriers to full personal development and economic stability.

GRACE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was founded by the Daughters of Charity. GRACE uses education, advocacy and mobilization programs to achieve its mission. The Daughters are an order of Catholic nuns who take an additional vow to serve the poor in the tradition of St. Vincent de Paul. They have been doing anti-poverty work in California since 1852. The Daughters started GRACE, because they could not ignore the 1.9 million children living in poverty in California. GRACE End Child Poverty Institute, a 501(c)(4), was founded to further GRACE’s mission, with the realization that political advocacy and government action are crucial in pushing for real change. GRACE End Child Poverty Institute and GRACE launched The End Child Poverty in California Campaign to support public policy, partnerships, and community efforts to dramatically reduce child poverty in California.

This is work we are called to do.

“Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combating poverty.”

— Pope Francis

What we do:

We work alongside respected academics, California lawmakers, public officials, and partners throughout the state to advance smart legislation that will help solve the child poverty crisis in California. We also raise public awareness of the child poverty crisis, because many Californians simply don’t realize how terrible this problem is and what it’s costing us.

California has the highest child poverty rate in the country, according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which accounts for cost of living. Not only does this cost children in lack of opportunity and unmet basic needs, it costs the state $66 billion a year. We know from research that lifting children and families out of poverty is crucial to improving health, providing access to a quality education, reducing crime, and paving the way for success in later life.

In 2017, with funding from GRACE End Child Poverty Institute, GRACE sponsored AB 1520, the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act, a big step forward in reducing poverty for 1.9 million kids in California. Through grassroots activism, phone calls, tweets, and signature gathering, our committed supporters made this happen, without one dissenting vote in the CA State Legislature.

AB 1520 created an expert task force that developed a comprehensive state plan to eliminate deep child poverty and dramatically reduce child poverty overall–the End Child Poverty Plan. In 2019 and beyond, the End Child Poverty in California campaign will continue to strengthen our coalition of allies and activists to fight for the resources and strategies the groundbreaking End Child Poverty Plan recommends. Our ultimate goal will always be eliminating child poverty in California.

Who leads GRACE and the End Child Poverty in California campaign?

Conway Collis, President and CEO, GRACE and End Child Poverty in California

GRACE’s President and CEO, Conway Collis, has been a public servant and advocate for social change for more than four decades. A graduate of Occidental College and Stanford Law School, he has been a live-in counselor for delinquent boys, a Counsel and domestic policy advisor in the U.S. Senate, an elected Member and Chairman of the California State Board of Equalization,  Chairman of the California State Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Homelessness, is a member of the California State Commission on Children and Families (the state First 5 Commission), and is the founding Board Chair of the National Foster Youth Institute.

Jackie Thu-Huong Wong, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy, GRACE and End Child Poverty in California

Jackie Thu-Huong Wong believes we can end deep child poverty within our lifetimes. Prior to joining GRACE in 2018, she served as the Government Relations Director for the National Center for Youth Law, Principal Policy Consultant to the California Senate President, and Statewide Director for the Foster Youth Service at the California Department of Education. She has close to three decades of experience inside and outside of government advocating for educational and economic equity and racial justice for children, youth, and families. Wong also serves as the President of the Washington Unified School Board in West Sacramento. As a trained social worker, she holds a B.A. in Social Welfare and Psychology from UC Berkeley, and a Master’s of Social Work from California State University, Sacramento. Wong‘s approach to advocacy is rooted in community and fueled by her lifelong commitment to equity and justice, having been raised as a refugee child in Stockton, California.

Maria Ochoa, Operations Manager and Executive Assistant, GRACE and End Child Poverty in California

Maria Ochoa is deeply passionate about addressing issues affecting underrepresented populations. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Aquinas College and a Master’s in Leadership Studies from North Central College. Maria has over 20 years of experience working with at-risk populations in California and Illinois—serving as a social worker for 15 years, before moving to nonprofit administration. Ochoa has served on the board of Teen Parent Connection, an organization that helps new teen parents. Her leadership values are compassion, dignity, transparency, respect, and diversity.

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