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National, State Leaders Convene To Raise Families Above Poverty Line


W.K. Kellogg Foundation Focusing National Attention on
Strategies to Raise Families Above Poverty Line


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The W.K. Kellogg Foundation convened national and state leaders from across the country today to launch a series of roundtable discussions, called “Moving Above the Line,” aimed at examining the portrait and challenges of vulnerable children in single-parent families. This event is one of four “Moving Above the Line” roundtables the Kellogg Foundation will host in Miss., New Mexico and Wash., D.C. to engage the voices of community leaders, policymakers, employers and potential partners.

Subject matter experts included Anna Greenberg, senior vice president and principal at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, and Mark Mather, associate vice president with Population Reference Bureau. Nearly 200 parent advocates, non-profit leaders, foundation representatives, researchers and policymakers joined the Kellogg Foundation to share their perspectives and seek solutions in light of today’s even greater challenges.

“Lifting all vulnerable children out of poverty is a strategic investment in our collective economic future,” said Sterling Speirn, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “To do this, it’s important to move people above the federal poverty guideline, which is $22,050 for a family of four. So what we’re really striving for is to move people to a self-sufficiency standard which is recognized as 200 percent above these poverty guidelines.”

Roundtable participants examined new data and public opinion analyses from Greenberg and Mather about how single parent households are faring in the current economy. In addition, the Kellogg Foundation showcased successful programs that place women-headed families at the focal point of greater societal change and facilitated a roundtable discussion to identify promising solutions for increasing the number of children and their families able to move out of poverty. 

Research findings presented at the roundtable included the following highlights:
• In the United States, the number of children in single-mother families has risen dramatically over the past four decades, with nearly one-fourth (24 percent) of the 75 million children under age 18 living in a single-mother family. 
• Children in single-parent families have higher poverty rates than those in married couple families. Comparing all families, the poverty rate for children living in families led by single mothers is 42 percent, compared to eight percent of children in married-couple families. For younger children ages 0 to 8, results are even more striking, with more than three-quarters (77 percent) of young children in single-mother families falling in the poor or low-income range.
• Race also plays a defining role in the poverty rate, with two-thirds (66 percent) of low-income African American children living in single-mother families, compared to just over a third (35 percent) of low income white children living in single-mother households
• Single-parent families believe their economic stability, role as parents and financial providers, and sense of well-being are all negatively impacted by the challenges inherent in single parenthood.
• At the same time, single parents remain hopeful and express deep commitment to their families and believe in their ability to provide a strong home life and future for their children despite the obstacles.

“This work is a priority for the Kellogg Foundation because it addresses the condition of vulnerable children – and propelling them toward success is what drives the work from the Kellogg Foundation each and every day,” said Speirn. The Foundation’s focus can be categorized in three specific ways:

• Ensuring that all children are reading and math-proficient at or above grade level by third grade;
• Increasing the number of children who are meeting developmental milestones and who receive the care and nutrition they need for optimal development; and 
• Increasing the number of children and their families who are living at least 200 percent above the poverty line, which is $44,100 or more for a family of four.

“Lower-income parents need access to quality education and job training opportunities,” said Anne Mosle, vice president for Programs with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “Despite their hard work to improve their situation, a number of factors – exacerbated by the global economic recession – are contributing to make it more difficult than ever for parents to secure well-paying jobs with benefits and provide for their families. We are cognizant that even as the economy begins to show promising signs of turning around, left in the wake of the recent financial crisis are many, many more people who will need pathways out of poverty.”

“We have seen a spike in the number of children growing up in women-headed families. We need to identify new pathways that link both mother and child to educational and economic opportunities if we are ever going to disrupt the malicious cycle of poverty.  We can't risk losing two generations,” said Mosle.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Established in 1930, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports children, families, and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and southern Africa. For further information, visit www.wkkf.org.

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