“What can I do to help?“
That is what this plan is here to answer. It is a plan of action. And it is yours to use as you wish.
Study the data – the tables and interactive map – and learn about what people truly need, in terms of annual income, in order to get by without assistance in your county or city. You will see how many people do not have enough to do so, and you will also be able to learn key markers about your community, such as housing vacancy rates, internet access, travel time for work, and more.
With that as an introduction to the issues, you will be even more prepared to act. Use the Action Guide to select from hundreds of vetted solutions across multiple areas and acting from any one of ten different sectors. There is not only something for everyone to do, there are many things for everyone to do. In fact, the Action Guide contains more than 300 actions (and it will change regularly, based on your feedback and ideas).
Apply whatever lens you wish to apply, helping whatever population or in whatever location you are able to help. It is a plan that is at once national and at the same time local.
The plan is yours to improve. We do not know what is best in your community, so we want to hear from you. Tell us if the actions in the guide work or if you have a better idea or better way to address the issues.
Why this plan?
The Other America was published in 1962. The book detailed various aspects of poverty in the United States. It is often seen as one of the inspirations behind the War on Poverty in the United States, declared in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson. Yet, if while reading the book you did not know when it was published, you may think it was based on our current time. That much has not changed.
We have spent trillions on poverty since that war was declared 57 years ago, yet we have settled for marginal progress. From rural to suburban to urban communities in our country, poverty continues to take hold of millions and millions of Americans – often at birth – and never let go.
Yet poverty is not intractable; our approach is. We have defined and measured poverty inaccurately, and that has caused harm. This plan brings a local, logical, and constantly updated approach, as we detail here.
Despite considerable effort by those working in many sectors, we have not made progress at anywhere near the rate equal to our potential as a nation. We continue to allow marginalization and neglect to define poverty and our treatment of those mired in it. We have not taken it personally and have often left it up to others to solve. With this plan, you can change that.
The Action Guide provides you with many options, no matter how you choose to engage. For example, if you want to act on your own and focus your efforts on education, simply choose “Individual/Family” as your sector and “Education” as your area, and you will find suggestions. If you wish to engage with your church or temple and address child care, choose “Faith Community” as your sector and “Child Care” as your area. You will see actions that large temples or small churches can undertake. And no matter the size of your business or civic group, there are myriad actions from which to choose.
Please tell us what you did and how it went, and together let’s show what is possible. Let’s seize the opportunity we have today to create positive change that will benefit every one of us.
Let’s take action.