“Poverty” is Still a Burden in America

Aug 18, 2019 by


Every child deserves an equal chance to achieve the American Dream.  “The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty”

— Rev Dr. Martin Luther King

Poverty has a devastating impact on the growth and development of individuals—especially children—families and society as a whole. We know that children raised in poverty, in many cases generational poverty along with other, adverse conditions, will have an extraordinary burden to bear in order to catch up with or just keep even with their peers who aren’t burdened with these societal conditions.

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Steve and Connie Ballmer.

One couple’s interest in Detroit has the potential to make a dent on generational poverty in the Motor City.  Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie opened a Detroit office for their charitable foundation, the Ballmer Group which was created to help eradicate intergenerational poverty in Detroit. Ballmer is a Detroit native.  https://www.ballmergroup.org/

According to a Crain’s Detroit Business article  the Ballmer foundation supports organizations and programs aimed at helping U.S. children and families rise out of poverty and build a better life. It makes grants and seeks collaborations aimed at scaling the country’s most effective interventions, accelerate place-based neighborhood interventions and improve the efficacy and efficiency of public systems and programs that support low-income communities


Steve and Connie  Ballmer have embraced the words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said, “God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.”

The Ballmer’s recognize how complex this work to help eradicate poverty can be. Focusing on one issue alone will never bring about the necessary change. That’s why they are directing their philanthropy and civic engagement to help remove barriers and create opportunities throughout many stages of a young person’s life, from a healthy birth through a good education and a career.

The Ballmer Group is making unrestricted, long-term grants over 5-10 years to support national and regional organizations with demonstrated impact in improving economic mobility for children and families.  With a goal of helping impoverished children and families in the metro Detroit region rise out of poverty, the foundation has awarded more than $16 million in grants  in its inaugural round of funding in 2018.


Why does a bank robber rob banks? It’s simple: That’s where the money is! This generous, focused couple gives a simple answer when asked why they believe philanthropy must work closely with government: When it comes to helping American kids and families on a national scale, government is where the money is.

Consider this: The U.S. government spends more than $1.3 trillion per year to help disadvantaged people in areas like health, housing, and nutrition, not even counting the education budget. Total U.S. philanthropy for human services and public society benefits add up to only six percent of that total.


Facts about poverty in America

Even in the world’s greatest food-producing nation, children and adults face poverty and hunger in every county across America.

  • 40 million people struggle with hunger in the United States, including more than 12 million children.
  • A household that is food insecure has limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life.
  • Children are more likely to face food insecurity than any other group in the United States.
  • 58% of food-insecure households participated in at least one of the major federal food assistance program — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps); the National School Lunch Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (often called WIC)


Lessons from China

Forty years of “China Opening Up” has produced meaningful progress for the world and, especially, for the people of China.  Without question, the Chinese Communist Party has taken many steps to address poverty since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The Chinese Communist Party has lifted hundreds of millions of its citizens out of abject poverty to the equivalent of a Chinese middle class over the past 40 years – a truly remarkable and universally acknowledged feat.

China’s achievement in poverty reduction is truly remarkable and universally acknowledged. China moved upward of 700 million people from abject poverty to the equivalent of the middle class. This is double the number of people in America and is unprecedented in world history


China deserves credit for what it has accomplished.  The Chinese government and its people are investing in education, infrastructure, and technology – fully embracing the future. They understand that knowledge, innovation, and creativity are the 21st century currency propels individuals, families and a nation forward, and are investing heavily in education as a poverty alleviation tool.


The Reverend Martin Luther King.

China will continue to build on its plan to lift the remaining Chinese citizens out of poverty while propelling China forward as they continue to re-establish ‘fuqiang’

(富强): “Wealth and power.”  We ought to be willing to learn from all. The Reverend Martin Luther King reminded us: “There is nothing new about poverty; what is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.”


Thank all of those big, rich and powerful and those that are struggling and poor themselves that devout themselves to ending poverty. This is an evil we should end.

Tom Watkins

Tom Watkins has an eclectic career in both the public and private sectors. He served the citizens of Michigan as state superintendent of schools and director of the department of mental health. He has held leadership positions in higher education, business and behavioral health. Watkins has a interest and passion in all things China and has written hundreds of article on the value of this most important bilateral relationship in the world today.

Source: “Poverty” is Still a Burden in America | Dome Magazine

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