Recently I was asked to share some thoughts about approaching poverty reduction with a number of leaders from across NY State.
"If we are concerned about reducing poverty, we must be concerned about creating opportunity." But how do we create opportunity?
We must be concerned with justice and equity: For maximum effectiveness, our approach must value the inclusion of people most affected by injustice and inequity. Brian Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative says, "wealth is not the opposite of poverty, justice is...".
We need to change our perspective and shift the culture: Change requires us to assess where we are currently and have a shared urgency around where we want to go. The key is that there are enough people who share the vision for change.
Focus on systems and policy: Transformation will not be achieved without changing policies and systems including, laws, policies, regulations, and practices.
Collaboration: We are using collective impact as a framework to get us on the same page about the things that matter most. Create a shared picture of the future and figure out how to work together to clearly align our collective efforts.
Remember why we are doing this work: Child poverty has reached an epidemic in local cities. We are focusing on poverty because we cannot see the full potential of our communities and residents without addressing it!
Creating opportunity requires a combination of removing barriers, empowering people, and collaboration.
This work requires humility, empathy, and justice!