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His Own Words: Brian King, Fresno EOC Street Saints, “How Do We Feed the World, But Starve Our Kids?”

Brian King of the Fresno Street Saints, speaks in Fresno on May 18, 2019, as part of the End Child Poverty Bus Tour. Read Brian’s full speech below. Photo credit: Fernando Rios

Brian King is the CEO of the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission Street Saints. He grew up in poverty on Chicago’s South Side. Brian served as a member of California’s statewide Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force that created the End Child Poverty Plan. As our CEO Conway Collis said, “It’s with Brian King’s leadership that we’re going to get this done.”

Brian joined us for the entire 2019 End Child Poverty in California Bus Tour, and spoke multiple times, including this powerful speech in front of his hometown crowd in Fresno.

***

Praise God. I’m appointed to speak to you guys first about what I’m experiencing. So first without any further ado, let me give thanks to God for me even being here. It’s only through Him that I’m here. You know, they wrote me off and said I would never live to be 15, but it’s only thanks to God that I’m here a couple ticks away from 60.

Then I want to give thanks to my mother and mothers like her who went to bed hungry so that we couldn’t taste what poverty felt like. And so for the mothers who have put themselves in those positions and continue to do so to this day, I want to salute you guys: mothers who have went without so that we can.

Brian King, CEO, Fresno EOC Street Saints, May 2019

I want to talk to you on a couple of deals – with two hats – the first hat is poverty. I am a direct descendent of poverty. I have experienced all the DNA of poverty. I’ve went from an 8-year-old gang member, to 14-year-old drug addict, to an incarcerated teenager, to a 21-year-old homeless addict walking around on the South Side of Chicago just waiting to die.

I have cleaned up, and went back to the streets and became one of the most significant and largest drug dealers in the city of Chicago. I have everything that’s made up of a young African-American male that’s walked the impoverished community.

But then I came to Fresno and I found a man name Jesus. And now the other hat I wear is a battle against poverty.

And my question to us in Fresno is “How do we feed the world, but starve our kids?”

It is a tragedy that we live in the second highest concentrated poverty area in the nation. And we’re not alone. In our travels, I’ve been able to go through San Diego to here. And what I’ve seen has really broke my spirit. I met a young 26-year-old lady in San Diego named Monique that has all the DNA that I have from these impoverished neighborhoods. But she has a 4-year-old kid that she’s trying to raise on $540 a month.

But she’s fighting.

And she was so excited to see the [End] Childhood Poverty bus come up that she encouraged me to keep on. Because sometimes this deal gets hard. But as we continue to go on, I’ve seen the governor come to a community where the community came around and said, “No more.” We’re going to stand, and we’re going to fight, and we’re going to figure this whole deal out.”

Then we went and met a senator that’s working with a group of ladies that held hands and talked about how we can overcome.

And so as we continue to walk through this path of created suffering—through Pomona and through our travel halfway across this state, I’ve been able to sit an hour with people on the bus and sit in hotels in the evening and just look at the glimmer of hope that we come together to try to end poverty throughout the whole state.

There is a battle ahead of us. But coming from impoverished neighborhoods, we battle every day.

And we know this ain’t nothing but a step. So we’re here today to say, “Fresno, we need you. We need you to go out and use your influence. We need you to begin to go. And those of you who’ve not registered to vote, we need you to go register. We need you guys that sit in City Hall and that sit in these lobbying seats to begin to lobby. We need our elected officials to come together and hold hands with San Diego, with L.A., with Weedpatch.

We were there this morning. And I sat there and I watched a community that had almost nothing, give us their best. They cooked breakfast burritos for us. They had chips for us, water for us, and they don’t even have their own clean drinking water. But they took part, and they took place in this fight that we’re having.

Members of the Fresno EOC Street Saints at the Fresno stop on the End Child Poverty Bus Tour, May 18, 2019.

And so as we begin and continue our journey, I want to first salute you guys for coming out and taking time out your busy days to be a part of this deal. And from our Fresno Street Saints family, I love you guys. Thanks for showing up for us.

We are truly in a time and space in history, that we can right it. And so as you continue to hear the speakers that’s coming up today, I ask that you open your hearts, that you listen, because this is a message that’s coming from across the state – a universal message that we have to begin to save our children. And like all you guys, I am 1,300% with us lifting our children out of poverty.

But again, my biggest concern is our children are dying poverty. So we just ask that you listen patiently, and that you hear that there is a solution, and we want to give you that solution.

***

California has 450,000 children living in deep poverty. We’re also the only state with a plan to END it. Already in 2019, $3.4 billion has been put toward the End Child Poverty Plan in the 2019-2020 state budget. Investments to end child poverty will pay for themselves over time as parents and children become healthier in body, mind, and spirit, and are able to have higher lifetime earnings.

There’s more work to do. We have the research, the plan, and the momentum to end child poverty. Now we need the political and moral courage to see it through.

Join the movement: endchildpovertyca.org.


Giving Tuesday: Powering Our Movement

It’s the season of giving, and we’d like you to think about your gifts. The voices, donations, and talents of our community — big or small — make this movement strong. And everyone has something to give as we build a California where all children are fed, healthy, and housed. 

2019 has been a powerful year for the End Child Poverty CA movement.

Thousands of you made our movement a huge success this year.

➡️ You spoke up for the End Child Poverty Plan.

➡️ You showed up in Chula Vista, LA, Pomona, Weedpatch, Fresno, Salinas, Oakland, and Sacramento.

➡️ You shared your stories in front of crowds of hundreds of people, in your communities and educated legislators and other officials. 

Throughout the year, the powerful testimonies of parents cut through the politics to make the needs of our communities clear. Your stories stick with us — stories like the one from Ana, who spoke on behalf or our partner Mission Promise Neighborhood. Her words continue to inspire us:

“[I’ve learned] not to keep my voice within myself but speak it out to share my knowledge so other families can advocate for their children, because we are all advocates. We just need to… speak up and say, ‘This is what I need for my children, and all of the children.’”

Community members like Ana are building momentum to power this movement in 2020. Will you chip in to power it, too?

Donate any amount

$10

$25

$50

$100

Together in 2020, we’re going to…

  • Make sure the Child Tax Credit is expanded to help children and families in extreme poverty have adequate food, housing and other essentials. It’s the most potent piece of #ThePlan to END extreme child poverty in our state.
  • Partner with civil rights leader Dolres Huerta, co-founder of the United Farmworkers and founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation to build a grassroots army of Californians mobilized to end child poverty in our state for good. On-the-ground community teams will serve as local action hubs to free our families from the cycle of poverty. 
  • Organize events and rallies around the state. We’re going to remind our leaders that child poverty is a moral and political choice — not an inevitability — and we’re serious about ending it.
  • Expand our network so that we’re impossible to ignore. We’re more than tripling the number of partners and community members involved to #PassThePlan and end extreme poverty for 450,000 California children. 

Will you chip in to help us achieve our goals? Every dollar makes a difference.

We’re filled with gratitude this holiday season — and we’re also aware that there are a lot of expenses this time of year. If you can’t donate right now, please forward this email to one or two people to let them know that there’s a place for them in our growing movement to END extreme poverty for our children.

For the last forty years I’ve been involved with serving youth caught in the juvenile justice system and foster care, helping to overcome educational disadvantage and to provide desperately needed healthcare. We can end the abject poverty that so often leads to these human crisis and enormous state costs. For children in abject poverty, in and out of homelessness, their needs can’t wait. Please join us.

With gratitude,

Conway Collis
President and CEO
GRACE


End Child Poverty CA is a movement to build a bright future for ALL California kids and free our families from the cycle of poverty. If someone forwarded you this email, sign up here to get updates from End Child Poverty CA. 


¡Qué diferencia hace en un año!

Para este tiempo el año pasado, el Grupo de Trabajo para Sacar a los Niños y a las Familias de la Pobreza lanzó el  primer Plan para Terminar con la Pobreza Infantil de California. Para creadores de cambio en el estado, “Pass the Plan” se convirtió en nuestro llamado al gobernador y líderes legislativos para que el tema de terminar con la pobreza infantil extrema fuera una prioridad – y ellos revelaron que era importante. 

El plan pondrá FIN a la pobreza infantil extrema en California y reducirá la pobreza infantil por mitad. El plan es audaz, y tomó meses de trabajo en equipo, investigación y compromiso para producirlo.

California es el único estado con un plan para acabar con la pobreza infantil extrema. Juntos vamos a hacerlo realidad. 

⇒ ¡Responde a nuestra breve encuesta para decirnos por qué estás involucrado!

Este es su plan :  Usted nos ayudó a combatir — compartiendo noticias con sus conocidos, presentándose en Sacramento y en todo el estado, y sobre todo creyendo en la misión. 

Debido a nuestro esfuerzo y trabajo juntos:

  •  Las legislaturas de California aprobaron recomendaciones claves del plan de este año.
  • Se aprobaron casi $5 billones en inversiones del Plan para terminar con  la pobreza infantil en el presupuesto estatal.
  • Más de 600 socios y 47,000 Californianos se han involucrado en #EndChildPovertyCA, y cada día se unen más.

Estamos increíblemente agradecidos con usted y nuestra comunidad. Estamos compartiendo nuestra gratitud desde ahora hasta el principio del 2020, y queremos saber su opinión.

⇒ Tóme unos minutos para decirnos por qué está apoyándonos.

Esperamos compartir algunas de sus respuestas junto con las nuestras en Giving Tuesday y durante diciembre.

Con profunda gratitud,

Conway, Jackie, Cristina y el equipo de Terminar con la Pobreza Infantil CA


Her Own Words: Monique Rosas “Able to Breathe Again,” Parent Voices San Diego #EndChildPovertyCA

Parent Voices leader Monique gets a hug from her son Makai after speaking in Chula Vista, CA
Parent Voices leader Monique gets a hug from her proud son Makai after speaking at the End Child Poverty CA Bus Tour kickoff event in Chula Vista, May 2019.

Monique is a parent leader from Parent Voices San Diego, and a single parent raising her amazing son Makai. In 2019, she’s been in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Sacramento fighting for parents in poverty. When we listen to the powerful voices of parents, we know without a doubt that all our kids can thrive. In May, Monique shared her story in front of a crowd of about 200 people at Castle Park High School in Chula Vista. Watch Monique’s speech here.

***

Hello, my name is Monique Rosas and I am a parent advocate for Parent Voices, an organization advocating for working families to have affordable child care.

We speak for the voiceless!

I am a 26-year-old San Diego native and single mother to a 4-year-old son named Makai. [Note: Makai is now 5!] Since 1992, my family and I have battled with homelessness. From birth until I was 8-years-old we lived in hotels, shelters, and other people’s homes — experiencing the trauma of being unstable and insecure. [M]y parents suffered from depression due to living in poverty, this led them to substance abuse, but they still did the best they could to support our family.

Growing up as a child into an adult I inherited my parents’ bad habits. Becoming a single parent affected by mental health and I started to abuse substances to relieve the pain of trying to provide for my son by myself. Tired of the intergenerational cycle of poverty, I made a decision to change it and applied for CalWORKs. My activity last year was a women’s recovery program where I became one year sober on January 14th, 2019. Then I graduated from a culinary apprenticeship program through CalWORKs.

I was excited to finally become successful. My next step was to move out. My case manager referred me to transitional housing, which was actually a tent. Now my worst nightmare of my son experiencing deep childhood poverty became true. Since I receive $577 dollars a month for Makai and I, we cannot afford housing. I pay all my bills by the 15th of the month and end up with less than $100 to decide if I pay for gas or toilet paper. I still don’t have enough to save and move out. Even with all my success, I still feel like I’m drowning and gasping for air. There’s no room for growth.

So I believe in this campaign to end childhood deep poverty because it’s going to be the beginning to breaking the cycle – so we may stop drowning to be able to breathe again. Thank you.

==> Listen to more from Monique here.

==> Check out our favorite video of Makai here.

***

California has 450,000 children living in deep poverty. We’re also the only state with a plan to END it. Californians across the state know that all our children can thrive. Already, almost $5 billion has been put toward the End Child Poverty Plan in the 2019-2020 state budget. Investments to end child poverty will pay for themselves over time as parents and children become healthier in body, mind, and spirit, and are able to break free from poverty.

There’s more work to do. We have the research, the plan, and the momentum to end child poverty. Now we need the political and moral courage to see it through.

Join the movement. Add your email at endchildpovertyca.org.

And to find out more about and join in with our partner Parent Voices and the amazing work they’re doing, click here.


End Child Poverty CA Coalition 2019-2020 Budget Wins

The final California state budget allocates almost $5 billion toward investments called for in the State Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force’s End Child Poverty Plan.

State legislation created the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force to develop an anti-poverty plan that was released just before the new governor and legislature took their oaths of office in January. The End Child Poverty in California Coalition of 50+ partners rallied people, organizations and elected officials to adopt the Task Force’s End Child Poverty Plan, which would end deep child poverty in just four years when fully implemented. The End Child Poverty Plan would also reduce overall child poverty by 50 percent over the next decade.

As a result, the final state budget includes unprecedented investments to address deep child poverty. Furthermore, several pieces of legislation and budget proposals have been introduced to implement the comprehensive End Child Poverty Plan.

“This budget represents an unprecedented strategic investment to address poverty and inequality in California. Make no mistake, however — this is a down payment. Fully funding the Task Force’s plan would end deep child poverty in California in four years, and our campaign will keep working with our elected officials and all Californians to do just that. Thank you to the Governor and the Legislature with leaders on both sides of the aisle and across the political spectrum for their unprecedented action to help kids and families,” said Conway Collis, co-chair of the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force, and CEO of GRACE and End Child Poverty in California.

450,000 California children live in deep child poverty. If concentrated as a population, those children would comprise the state’s eighth largest city — larger than Oakland, twice as large as San Bernardino, and just smaller than Long Beach. When fully realized, savings generated by lifting these children from poverty would total $12 billion annually, on an ongoing basis, representing a dramatic return on investment.

“We could not have done this without the broad-based coalition of anti-poverty advocates, faith-based organizations, non-profits, education advocates, business and labor who worked tirelessly to build support for this important victory. This budget is a reflection of the beginning of a sea change, with ending child poverty in California, as the Governor has stated, his North Star.  We have more to do, but this is a significant step in the right direction and we are looking forward to continuing our work with this coalition, the legislature and the Governor,” said Jackie Thu-Huong Wong, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy at GRACE and End Child Poverty in California.

California has the highest number of children and highest percentage of children living in poverty of any state in the nation — almost 2 million children, who represent one out of every five California kids. Deep poverty is defined as families living at or below 50 percent of the federal poverty line, or less than about $12,500 for a family of four. In addition, 204,000 California children experience homelessness.

Infographic: Key End Child Poverty CA Coalition Budget Wins

Additional CA Budget Information & Reactions

  • State budget analysis from our coalition partner Western Center on Law & Poverty: click here.
  • Budget statement from CalEITC4Me on the California Earned Income Tax Credit expansion: click here.
  • Statement on child care wins from our coalition partners Parent Voices & Child Care Law Center: click here.
  • Article in Vox on the CalEITC expansion in California and its national relevance: click here.
  • Additional information on the End Child Poverty Plan: click here.
    LA Times story on the release of the End Child Poverty Plan: click here.


End Child Poverty Plan: The Power of Promise Neighborhoods

End Child Poverty in California/GRACE visit to Mission Promise Neighborhood/MEDA in San Francisco, 2019

The End Child Poverty Plan offers California a groundbreaking path to end deep child poverty for 450,000 kids and cut overall child poverty in half. Expanding California’s successful Promise Neighborhoods network is a key part of the plan.

What’s a Promise Neighborhood?

Promise Neighborhoods are powerful, family-centered networks rooted in communities. They use the power of collective impact–many programs and services working together–to support families in neighborhoods facing intense economic pressures. Promise Neighborhoods create easy entry points for services and break down red tape. They work to improve kids’ lives “from cradle to college to career,” focusing on the whole child, the whole family, and the whole community.

Promise Neighborhoods are:

  • Results driven
  • Place based (located in one specific geographic area, allowing for community strength)
  • Community powered
  • Equity focused

California currently has five Promise Neighborhoods (including our End Child Poverty in California partners Hayward Promise, Mission Promise, and YPI), and more are needed. This year Senator Ben Allen (D-Los Angeles) introduced Senate Bill 686, the California Promise Neighborhoods Act of 2019, that would expand this successful, community-centered model to more neighborhoods.

Find out more:

  1. Click here to find out more about SB 686.
  2. See a map of all Promise Neighborhoods from the California Promise Network.
  3. Read about the incredible impact of one Promise Neighborhood in the blog post below by our partners at the Mission Promise Neighborhood and MEDA (Mission Economic Development Agency) in San Francisco.

2019: THE MISSION AND BEYOND, FOR ALL CALIFORNIA KIDS

Photo from MEDA blog. Read the full, original blog post here

[…]

Our numbers [at Mission Promise Neighborhood] spoke for themselves. Over the six-plus years of our initiative, we used a shared case-management tool to connect 2,744 families with 5,590 different program referrals, ranging from housing and tenants’ rights to job readiness and health care. We were a collaborative of 20 community organizations, aligning our efforts to provide wraparound services to our students and families to work toward common goals. We broke through silos and shared data along the way. Together, we held ourselves accountable to turning the curve on community indicators.

MPN saw the following outcomes in our schools and with our partners:

  • Latino graduation rates increased from 63 percent to 88 percent
  • African American graduation rates increased from 46 percent to 93 percent
  • Ninety-four percent of elementary school families feel a sense belonging at their schools
  • Rate at which students change schools mid-year decreased from 13.9 percent to 7.9 percent
  • Eighty percent of all Latino 4-year olds in the Mission are now enrolled in preschool
  • Social emotional development scores for 3-year-olds jumped from 24 percent to 82 percent

These outcomes are even more impressive when you take into account the extreme pressures our families are experiencing: unprecedented levels of housing displacement, growing income inequality, all coupled with a national political climate translating to an assault on our community. Our collective work of providing families with coordinated access to mental health services, legal representation, asset building, housing services and more has helped MPN stabilize the Mission by using schools and affordable housing as community anchors.

The U.S. Department of Education grant is an affirmation of the work our partners have done. Our second iteration of MPN is focused on aligning with the City of San Francisco and its School District’s Beacon Initiative, expanding from four to nine schools in the Mission District, increasing our presence at early learning centers, developing parent leaders and reaching out to Family Child Care providers to give their families access to our network of supports. We estimate that we will now be serving approximately 8,000 children and their families in the Mission. With our collective-impact approach, MPN is on pace to have the scale of the solution match the scale of the challenge.

Joining with other Promise Neighborhoods
Other Promise Neighborhoods across the state have seen similar outcomes. Together, the five Promise Neighborhoods in California created a network called CPNN.  The results from the CPNN network, informed the development of a statewide plan to end child poverty. This plan includes a recommendation for the investment by the State of California into a total of 20 Promise Neighborhoods at $5 million per neighborhood, complemented by increased spending on child care, CalWORKS and much more. The plan estimates that the combination of these factors will result in benefits to state and local governments of more than $12 billion annually.

The plan lays out the seven unique characteristics of Promise Neighborhoods:

  1. Cradle-to-college-to-career continuum to move families out of poverty
  2. Place-based to focus on high-need geographies
  3. Collective impact: collaborate with partners to provide solutions at scale
  4. Align funding streams to achieve shared outcomes
  5. Results-driven, with a focus on population-level results
  6. Equity-focused and explicit in addressing disparities
  7. Community powered to address local needs and build on local strengths

Data sharing, collaboration, accountable to results, good for the economy: Promise Neighborhoods are the embodiment of what we call “good government.” MEDA will be calling for these pilot initiatives to move beyond being simply boutique operations and for them to become the normal way that government delivers services….

One community is not waiting for the State to approve funding for Promise Neighborhoods; instead, it is taking the lead in using its current budget to create Promise Neighborhoods. San Diego County has approved $4 million for a pilot Promise Neighborhood based on the success of its existing Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood. If the pilot is also successful, the plan is to create even more Promise Neighborhoods throughout that county.

Closer to home — and based on  the success of San Francisco’s Promise Neighborhood in the Mission District — we believe it’s time for the City and County of San Francisco to begin asking itself if other neighborhoods in the City would benefit from a Promise Neighborhood, particularly during this time of widening income inequality and displacement of working-class families and people of color.

From School Board to Mayor, State Superintendent of Schools to Governor, all the way to the House of Representatives, we are seeing inspiring new leaders take the reins of government. As they highlight the need for a more just society, now is the time for bold equity initiatives based on proven models. Perhaps 2020 will put us on pace to end child poverty.

After all, much can happen in a year!

***

Read more about the End Child Poverty Plan strategies here. Join in by signing on to the campaign for updates.


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