On Monday, Rev. Alison Killeen and I drove out to idyllic Camp Chi Rho in Annandale to facilitate...
Hi there! I’m Emilie Bouvier, the new JRLC summer intern sending warm greetings amidst these...
Last week, JRLC’s Executive Director, Brian Rusche, wrote his annual summary of the legislative...
On May 14, 2013 JRLC participated in a rally convened by Invest in Minnesota, a coalition of...
This post is adapted from a sermon by JRLC Intern and United Theological Seminary student...
Youth Advocacy Workshop at Camp Chi Rho
Creative Advocacy from Theological Roots
Session 2013: We Still Have Work To Do
Hey, Legislature: Raise My Taxes!
Loaves and Fishes and Collective Responsibility
Investing in the Future
Greetings! My name is Courtney Nussbaumer, and I am the new summer fellow for the iCAN network at the JRLC this summer. I am excited to be working for such a great organization that does so much to unite the interfaith community. I am not only impressed by their myriad connections but also by the way in which such a small staff can mobilize and organize so many compassionate people.
I am fortunate enough to work with the JRLC because I am a recipient of a Chuck Green Fellowship from Macalester College, at which I am a rising junior. During the seven-month fellowship, fellows participate in a spring semester Political Science seminar focused on analyzing and addressing community-based issues. During the summer, the 12 fellows selected receive a stipend to complete a full-time, on-site project at a community-based organization to implement the recommendations developed in the spring. This summer I will be working on developing and operating two Key Advocate training sessions for the iCAN network.
Being a Super-bowl Champion Wisconsin native, my first step was familiarizing myself with the current child poverty situation in Minnesota. After doing some research, I made a few overarching observations based on available poverty statistics from the 2011 Minnesota Kids Count Report from the Children’s Defense Fund. First, child poverty is often split along racial lines in Minnesota. For instance, in 2009 Minnesota had the fifth highest rate of black children in the U.S. living in poverty (my home state of Wisconsin was third on this list) and the highest rate of Asian children in the U.S. living in poverty. Moreover, one-third of Hispanic children and forty percent of American Indian children in Minnesota were living in poverty in 2009. There is a large body of research showing that systematic discrimination and institutional racism have isolated and segregated communities of color from important resources and created negative environments for children.
Second, two surprising facts put the tremendous costs of child poverty in perspective for me. By 2020, Minnesota will have more retirees than school children for the first time ever in state history. This means that there is a huge burden on Minnesota’s youth to be able to provide for the baby-boomers; therefore, it is critical that we equip our youth and families with the educational and developmental tools they need to be able to provide one day for the baby-boomers. Considering that childcare costs for both infants and four-year-olds are currently higher than the average tuition and fees at a Minnesota public college, it is critical that society help those families who cannot afford these ever-rising costs.
Finally, it is clear to me that child poverty affects almost all sectors of society. This includes schools, hospitals, businesses, consumers, property owners, and ultimately tax payers. It is also apparent to me that investing more money now in childhood development, education, quality childcare and programs that promote family stability will save us money in the long run. In other words, if children are brought up in loving homes that have access to adequate resources, they have a greater chance to become contributing members of society when they grow up and a smaller chance of relying on state-run remedial services, which cost us all in the end.
With the Health and Human Services Budget released on May 12 containing $1.8 billion in cuts to health care and supportive services, there is no time like the present to act. Furthermore, Governor Dayton’s recent veto of the budget gives us even more time to take action and make sure we keep the interests of kids at the forefront, especially when special session is called. It is often said that kids are our future, but this can only be true if we put them first in the present. When we invest in the well being of families and children now, we will reap an abundance of rewards later on. I am reminded of Proverbs 19:17, which reads, “he who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.” Indeed, our efforts are greater than ourselves.