Working Our Way Out of Poverty

This video, featuring David Riemer and Conor Williams, explains the Working Our Way Out of Poverty project and why it's so important for meeting PPI's mission.

The Working Our Way Out of Poverty Project seeks to change the way we think about and attack poverty. We have designed and tested a nonpartisan policy package that is the first of its kind to dramatically reduce poverty. The project is now focused on promoting and implementing these policies.

Our latest report asks, “What would it take to cut poverty in half in the United States?”

Since 2008, the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute has been focused on work as the primary way out of poverty. Work is at the core of our values as a nation, and a foundation of our economic system. Yet work alone is not always sufficient to lift people out of poverty.

Based on this work-oriented approach, we have developed a five-part nonpartisan policy package aimed at dramatically reducing poverty across the United States. The policies are:

  1. Create transitional jobs in sufficient numbers to ensure that all jobseekers can easily find employment;

  2. Increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and index it for inflation;

  3. Enhance and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit;

  4. Create a refundable tax credit to ensure that individuals who are on disability or Social Security--but still poor--can get out of poverty;

  5. Expand subsidies for child care to ensure that children of working parents have safe and quality care.

The Working Our Way Out of Poverty Report builds on our 2010 report, in which we looked at the impact of five policies on reducing poverty in Wisconsin. In both the 2010 report, and our 2015 report that focuses on the United States as a whole, we retained the Urban Institute to model the effects these policies would have.

The latest result: 

The Urban Institute concluded the policy package would cut America’s poverty rate by 50%, lifting more than 22 million people out of poverty. Our research shows the reductions in poverty would be particularly significant for people of color. For example, the rate of poverty for African Americans would drop from more than 22% to 7%.

Next Steps: 

Now that we know what to do to dramatically reduce poverty, the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute is working to promote and implement these five policies. We do this in a variety of ways, including:

  • Collaborating with The Children’s Defense Fund, The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, The Urban Institute, and others, to validate and pilot this plan and share results with interested parties.

  • Building awareness of, and support for, these policies through outreach and education;

  • Supporting existing advocacy efforts to create transitional jobs, increase the minimum wage, expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, boost the income of persons receiving disability benefits or Social Security who remain poor, and increase child care subsidies;

  • Promoting pilot projects at local and national levels, to demonstrate the ability to implement the policies at larger scale, and to participate in ongoing research and evaluation; and

  • Working with legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle to translate the policies, in whole or in part, into real laws and programs.

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Project Publications

Working to Reduce Poverty: A National Subsidized Employment Proposal

By Indivar Dutta-Gupta, Kali Grant, Julie Kerksick, Dan Bloom, and Ajay Chaudry ...

Presentation on the "Working Our Way Out of Poverty" Project

This PowerPoint accompanied the March 25th rollout of the PPI/Urban Institute report on halving poverty ...

Working Our Way Out of Poverty: What Would it Take to Cut Poverty in Half in the U.S.?

This report makes the case for adopting a 5-part policy package that would cut poverty ...