Eradicating Poverty in Our Region is Possible

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October 2019 Blog Post

The United Nations declared October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year’s theme, “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty,” is exactly what United Way California Capital Region’s Square One Project is all about. Our philosophy of bringing together stakeholders, including community members, to determine how best to ensure that more families are thriving has been our focus since 2016. 

Even before we began the Square One Project, our local United Way believed—and the data showed—that educational attainment made it less likely that people will live in poverty. In fact, 62% less likely if they attend college. There is still no doubt that education opens the doors to opportunity. Our United Way also believes that no one organization or institution can eradicate poverty alone. According to the United Nations, it is important to understand that “poverty is not solely an economic issue, but rather a multi-dimensional phenomenon that encompasses a lack of both income and the basic capabilities to live in dignity.” More importantly, we must also understand that children and their families should be included in determining the solutions that will move them from crisis to thriving.

This brings me to our United Way’s work in the Robla School district. Our United Way is providing access to those basic capabilities like healthy meals after school, drinking water on the school campuses, tutoring, and family support through programs that put dollars back into the hands of those families so they can plan for the future. We also support the Robla School District’s culture of encouraging education beyond high school. Whether college or career technical education, we want to support the aspirations of those students. Parents and community leaders are sitting at the table with us and bringing forward their power to create lasting change in Robla Park. I am proud to say that with the active engagement of the school community, parents, and the residents, the outcomes have been promising. Our 2018 results include a reduction in chronic absenteeism by 26% and improvements in grade-level reading and math standards that exceed statewide outcomes. The school leadership is identifying ways to invest resources that will lead to the long-term sustainability of those outcomes. The residents are raising their voices to improve the safety of their community.

But, our work is not yet done. Our recent merger with Woodland United Way presents a new opportunity for the Square One Project. Over the next several months, we will be asking stakeholders in Woodland, including parents, students, and community members, to participate in deciding what they need in order to increase educational attainment and decrease poverty in their community. 

If you agree with the United Nations that “poverty hurts children’s development and, in turn, leads to lower-income and health in adulthood,” then together we must continue to invest in making access to education a reality for all children in our region.