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Oregon Business Leaders Win National Recognition for Poverty Reduction Advocacy

In 2012 the Oregon Business Plan adopted its goal to reduce poverty below 10 percent by 2020. Shortly after that OBC directors formed the Poverty Reduction Task Force to work with community advocates on poverty reduction.

The work of the task force is exemplified in letters of support submitted in 2015 for a House bill that would provide seed funding for poverty reduction initiatives in high poverty communities, and for Senate and House bills that would continue and strengthen the Individual Development Account program that helps low-income individuals save money for home buying, postsecondary education, and other long-term investments.

The Oregon business community’s efforts on poverty reduction have not gone unnoticed. Jodie Levin-Epstein, deputy director of CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy, recently observed, “Among state business communities, Oregon is uniquely out in front nationally on poverty reduction.” The CLASP website acknowledges this work and links visitors to a recent Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity national audio conference with Oregon leaders working on poverty reduction. (Listen to the
audio broadcast tape or read the transcript). Spotlight is a national initiative that seeks to inform the policy debate about reducing poverty and increasing opportunity in the United States.
Also see:
The opinion piece “Dispelling myths about and investing wisely in people living in poverty” by Ken Thrasher, a member of the OBC Poverty Reduction Task Force.
The opinion piece by David Sarasohn, columnist and editor at The Oregonian, on what’s at stake for children in OBC’s efforts to curb poverty.
A presentation by Bill Thorndike, a member of the OBC Poverty Task Force, to a state education panel charged by the Legislature to investigate the impact of state education expenditures on the achievement of students from families in poverty.

The work has also been praised by State of Opportunity, a special reporting project of Michigan Public Radio to explore and document what can be done to break the cycle of poverty and improve opportunities for the most disadvantaged children. State of Opportunity cites the Oregon effort as an example of the impact that businesses can have on poverty when they choose to get involved.

The Business Plan has a number of particular recommendations for this legislative session to help people work their way out of poverty. Growing out of work by the OBC Poverty Task Force, these recommendations include redesigning short-term assistance to needy families, improving child care access, making changes in benefits rules, and expanding tax credits.

The task force is also working on a longer term poverty reduction strategy based on ideas generated in a design lab process that OBC sponsored in 2014.

Here are links to the business community’s 2015 poverty reduction agenda, to the work of the OBC Poverty Reduction Initiative and background materials and to the Prosperity Agenda Design Lab.

Poverty reduction is one of the top three goals of the Oregon Business Plan and a natural corollary of the other two Business Plan goals: growing net new jobs and raising per capita income for Oregonians.

See more about the overall Oregon Business Plan policy agenda at the Oregon Business Plan website.

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“Among state business communities, Oregon is uniquely out in front nationally on poverty reduction.”


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