Charles: Our approach to poverty is grounded in our belief that every person has a gift, and that with the right mindset and support, everyone can contribute and succeed. It’s because of this deep belief in people that we think the standard approach to poverty is tragic.
For the past 50 years, we’ve been given a false choice. It’s a choice between the War on Poverty — which makes poverty easier to endure but harder to escape — and abandoning those who face hardship, leaving them to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”
A half century later, the poverty rate has barely budged. And people who are born into poverty today are less likely to rise out of it.
I don’t pretend for a second that I have the answers to poverty, as I haven’t personally experienced it.
That’s why the first step in our approach is finding people who do have the answers. Often it’s those who have experienced poverty themselves, who have overcome it, and are helping others do the same. As their partners, we use our resources and capabilities to help them take their efforts to a new level.
Brian: What we’ve learned is that this approach is far more effective than anything else we’ve seen.
People like Jesús Genera know the unique challenges of poverty — he experienced it as a kid. He now leads the Family Independence Initiative. They’ve developed an innovative program that empowers families to increase their personal savings tenfold.
We’re partnering with them to help scale their model nationwide to potentially help millions of families each year. And they’re the lead organization in a unique initiative to assist people hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis, called #GiveTogetherNow.
Or take Scott Strode. Scott knows how to beat addiction because he beat it himself. He founded an organization called The Phoenix that is twice as effective as the best treatment clinics in the country. In partnership with Stand Together, Scott has already taken The Phoenix from seven to 48 communities.
We’re now working together to go much bigger with a goal of helping 1 million people each year, which could be a tipping point in improving the effectiveness of efforts to help people struggling with addiction.
You can see the inspiring stories of many of the 180 community-based organizations that Stand Together Foundation partners with here.