When it comes to fighting poverty, we tend to think in terms of broad and impersonal macro trends and strategies. Many programs delivered at scale and according to standardized norms offer only a handful of potential paths for participants. In the process, the individual – the singular story, the unique challenge, the personal perspective – becomes diluted under the heft and weight of best and standardized practices. 

Strategies delivered from an expert perspective and at a sweeping programmatic scale are often fraught with excessive expense and misaligned with the goals and challenges faced by low-income Americans as they strive to eclipse poverty. We must shift our approach to one that suits and respects low-income Americans and supports individuals and families in reaching their goals of education, employment, and sustainability.

Armed with a belief in the importance of personal drive and self-determination, we launched Benevolent in late 2011. We listened. We asked. We opened our ears still more. As low-income adults strive to reach their goals, what gets in their way? It became clear, for example, that… Read more

Great great piece by James Abro of Talk Poverty shedding light on the unfortunate, counterproductive and simply destructive tendency of defining poverty with prejudice and negative stereotypes. Abro gives us the CRITICAL challenge to embody a form of change-making that lifts up real peoples’ real life experiences. It’s time to listen and elevate those stories of personal and financial struggle with dignity and respect. It’s time to act alongside those we wish to help. 

What do you think?


All social change is speculative fiction because we’ve never seen a world without poverty, never seen a world with total equality, never seen a world without prisons; therefore activism IS speculative fiction, it’s visionary fiction because we are writing a world we’ve never seen but a world we’d like to live in.

It’s hard and unapologetic but it’s hopeful because it can cause us to move; it wakes up and shows us that change is possible.

struggling to imagine anything more enlivening and goose-bump inducing 

from AN EVENING WITH OCTAVIA’S (Butler) BROOD, as summarized by author Crystal Connor (via Balogun Ojetade, blackspeculativefiction)

There’s no doubt, the inequality within the country has created a situation where many Americans are being left behind. The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try and do something about it?

The State of California will devote billions of dollars in new cap-and-trade revenue to fund projects intended to further curb climate impacts. In addition to investments in high-speed rail and public transit, millions of dollars will support affordable transit-oriented development (TOD). CNT research helped make the case that building affordable housing near transit can significantly reduce GHG from auto emissions.

HOLY COW! What an incredible policy to simultaneously decrease auto emissions AND increase the availability of affordable housing. 

      In our lifetimes, almost 30 percent of women will find ourselves the victim of domestic violence. While that statistic is unnerving, it calls to light the fact that every day when we’re at work, in class, dropping our kids off at school, in a meeting, at a movie, we’re there alongside women who have persevered and decided to stand up after someone tried to bring them down.

     This morning I received a call that no one wants to get. One of our Benevolent team members was calling to let me know that she’d been physically attacked on Saturday night by someone who was supposed to love her. She fought free, ran, and found help and safety, but not before she’d been significantly hurt. This Benevolent team member is like all women: she’d been in situations where she felt unsafe, and she’d made choices to protect herself when she needed to. Like all of us. But what happened to her on Saturday night tipped her over to the other side. The side on which almost a third of women in America stand, the side of those who have been attacked, assaulted or abused by someone who was supposed to love them.

Every time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women. - Maya Angelou

     My colleague has encouraged me to share this episode. She wants us to learn and grow from her circumstance… Read more