In a tough political year in West Virginia, young people from the Appalachian Center for Equality program rose to the challenge.
In the wake of the 2014 elections, control of the WV legislature passed to Republican hands for the first time since 1932. Many legislators who had championed the statewide Our Children Our Future campaign to end child poverty were either no longer there or were not in leadership positions. Many legislators were newly elected and largely unknown.
West Virginia Economic Justice Project program coordinator Beth Spence began working for AFSC in WV in 2002, but her connection goes back decades farther. A Logan, WV native and longtime collaborator with the AFSC program there, she did pioneering work on rural homelessness. She also helped the new Economic Justice Project get started in 1989.
Our Children Our Future, West Virginia’s campaign to end child poverty, is gearing up for the 2015 legislative session. This coalition of coalitions, of which AFSC is an active member, has won over a dozen policy victories over the last two years, including prison reform, Medicaid expansion, raising the minimum wage, and restoring funding for family programs. While most of these victories take place at the capitol in Charleston during the 60 day legislative sessions that typically last from January to March, the campaign works statewide and year-round to build momentum.
AFSC’s West Virginia Economic Justice (WVEJ) program won a major victory in the 2014 state legislative session with the passage of a measure establishing a Future Fund, a permanent mineral trust fund created from a portion of natural resource severance taxes. “This is a campaign we’ve worked on with key allies for about four years,” WVEJ Director Rick Wilson said. “The bill is not perfect because it was amended and weakened late in the session, but we hope to strengthen it next year.
Join AFSC youth groups from Logan and Mingo counties, along with kids and families from across the state as we converge on the Capitol in Charleston to make our voices heard on issues ranging from physical activity in school, the Future Fund, and raising the minimum wage.
Members of the BAPS (Believing All is Possible!) youth leadership program in Logan, West Virginia were front and center at a community forum about child poverty in March 2013. Sponsored by AFSC and a dozen other organizations, the forum focused on prison overcrowding, teen pregnancy prevention, family violence prevention, and parent education. Advocates as well as people impacted by poverty spoke.
Believing All Is Possible (BAPS) participant Jasmine speaks with a reporter inside the West Virginia Capitol Building in Charleston, WV.
On February 26th, 2013 BAPS youth leadership group, a program of the American Friends Service Committee, traveled to the State Capitol for Kids and Families Day, to participate in the kickoff of the statewide child poverty campaign, Our Children, Our Future: The Campaign to End Child Poverty.
At Kids and Families Day at State Capitol ready to speak up about poverty
Addiction? Incarceration? Unemployment? Obesity? All these issues stem from vulnerable families trying to get by on a wage that is not live-able or in communities where jobs are scarce. In 1970, the median job paid roughly $20/hour. Today, it's less than half that. Our country can thrive when people have the means to rise out of poverty.
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
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