June 22nd, 2010

The State Commission to Reduce Poverty is set to meet Thursday June 24, 2010, at 11 AM, at the YWCA Interfaith Hospitality House, 5916 First Avenue South, Birmingham.

The commission’s agenda includes a discussion of how to engage those living in poverty in identifying the barriers to opportunity that they face and what can be done to remove those barriers.  Larry Lee, Director of the Center for Rural Alabama, will also talk with commission members and attendees about his work identifying common traits of successful rural public schools.  The meeting is open to the public.

The state legislature created the State Commission to Reduce Poverty in 2009 to study and evaluate state-supported programs, policies and services and make recommendations on proposed legislation that serves or affects those who live in poverty. It is comprised of state senators, representatives and members of the nonprofit community. Individuals from faith communities and those living in poverty are encouraged to apply for a Gubernatorial appointment to the commission by completing the application athttp://governor.alabama.gov/yourgov/upcoming_appointments.aspx.

Alabama is the tenth poorest state in the nation, with nearly 1 in 6 Alabamians and 1 in 4 children living below the federal poverty line.

“Especially in these hard economic times, it is imperative that we bring the issues and realities of poverty to the forefront so we can develop public policies that are effective, innovative and equitable,” says Commission Chair Representative Patricia Todd.

Kristina Scott, executive director of the Alabama Poverty Project and the commission’s vice chair, said, “We are all impacted by our state’s perennial high poverty rate, and we value public input in the commission’s work. The people of Alabama understand both their communities’ assets and barriers to opportunity.  They also have great ideas regarding possible solutions to remove those barriers through legislation, state and local policy changes and community development efforts.  We hope they will share those ideas with us.”

The Alabama Poverty Project recently received a $14,000 challenge grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham to coordinate the Commission’s work and mobilize public support to eradicate poverty.

“Our board of directors designated this grant to raise awareness and attract more donors to the Alabama Poverty Project and the Alabama State Commission to Reduce Poverty. By focusing on our priority of advocacy for the poor and underserved through this grant, we hope to inspire a broader base of support for this important work,” said Community Foundation Senior Program Office James McCrary.