Every now and then there is a rare opening for advocates to push their agenda through the legislature. We might be approaching one.
Currently, there is a massive package moving through the federal legislative system that will be the most extensive rewrite of our social services since the Great Society of the mid 1960s, a.k.a. the 2021 budget reconciliation bill. The cost of this plan is still being negotiated, but it will be more than $1 trillion, maybe $3 trillion.
Here is the ask: Seek out your federal legislators and request that one tenth of 1% of the human services money sent to the states be set aside for “pilot programs that encourage under-resourced individuals to analyze and investigate their circumstances and make their own plans to build stability, social capital, and fiscal resources.” Ask the Bridges Out of Poverty partners in your community also to write and call their congressional representatives and U.S. senators.
Why 0.1% of the money sent to the states? Because the states use federal guidelines to set up the programs that implement the federal money.
Also meet with your state officials, your local legislator, and economic development officials to make the same request. Why economic development officials? Because, as Ruth Weirich points out in Workplace Stability, workforce training is a huge issue, and Bridges and Getting Ahead are excellent tools for that purpose.
Then meet with your local officials. This will vary from state to state; when you know how one state works, you know how one state works. In most cases, the states then send the money off to local governments, usually the county commission or equivalent, to perform the programming. Make the same pitch to the local officials, that one tenth of 1% of the federal money sent to the states be set aside for “pilot programs that encourage under-resourced individuals to analyze and investigate their circumstances, and make their own plans to build stability, social capital, and fiscal resources.”
What you are doing here is subtle. You are making the pitch that the money will be used in a program that closely resembles Getting Ahead. Like Ohio’s Healthier Buckeye Program of a few years ago, this funding request, if successful, will supercharge your local programs, familiarize your state and local officials with your program, allow you to build capacity, and move you toward solving poverty in your community.
The following is from the draft of an upcoming book and sums up why you need to take action:
We are coming to an era of rapid change, but unlike other disruptive eras, this change is more rapid and unpredictable than the change we have seen in other epochs. I’ve spent the last 30 years being paid to look into the future, see what it holds, and then advise the ruling elite on what changes are needed to give the new era an easy birth.
But my crystal ball is cloudy; there are too many variables to predict how things might turn out.
I do know this: Countries will increasingly realize their most precious natural resource is their citizens, and they need to have every citizen perform to the top of their ability. Partly this is because of declining birth rates, but it is also attributable to national security concerns. Programs and models that move every citizen to realize their complete self-awareness will be sought after like a precious metal. Bridges is the new precious metal; like gold, it is malleable and can be formed to fit every local need and the needs of every individual.
It is up to you to be the new goldsmith, to help fashion the precious and malleable Bridges-informed programs, organizations, and policies that will raise up the next population of your country, wherever that country is. It is not up to me. To paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, I am like a sterile midwife in this endeavor; I can’t give birth myself but can only help you give birth. You can give birth to a new community covenant, where no person is left behind, all form their own dreams, and all realize their dreams.
It is up to you.