Harambee January 2015

Harambee | January 2015


Friday, February 13: Partners must submit contact information for their Project Directors and Site Coordinators to the National Office using the data collection forms provided.

Tuesday, February 24:  Registration deadline for the March Orientation & Training for all new Project Directors and new Site Coordinators.

Tuesday, March 10: First payment installment (50% of total due) must be submitted to the National Office.

Tuesday, March 10:  Book order forms must be submitted to the National Office. Book orders will only be placed for those who have paid.

Thursday, March 12 – Sunday, March 15: Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute: March Orientation and Training for new Project Directors and Site Coordinators.

Wednesday, February 18th at 4pm EST: First of monthly informational conference calls.

We have begun the hiring process for summer interns at our National Office. If you are interested, please visit our website at www.childrensdefense.org/intern or contact our Internship Coordinator at cdf_interns@childrensdefense.com

Ending Child Poverty Report Cover

 Motivational Song

A Call to End Child Poverty Now

America is going to hell if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty
and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

It is a national moral disgrace that there are 14.7 million poor children and 6.5 million extremely poor children in the United States of America – the world’s largest economy. It is also unnecessary, costly and the greatest threat to our future national, economic and military security.

The 14.7 million poor children in our nation exceeds the populations of 12 U.S. states combined: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming and is greater than the combined populations of the countries of Sweden and Costa Rica. Our nearly 6.5 million extremely poor children (living below half the poverty line) exceeds the combined populations of Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming and is greater than the populations of Denmark or Finland.

The younger children are the poorer they are during their years of greatest brain development. Every other American baby is non-White and 1 in 2 Black babies is poor, 150 years after slavery was legally abolished.

America’s poor children did not ask to be born; did not choose their parents, country, state, neighborhood, race, color, or faith. In fact if they had been born in 33 other industrialized countries they would be less likely to be poor. Among these 35 countries, America ranks 34th in relative child poverty — ahead only of Romania whose economy is 99 percent smaller than ours.

The United Kingdom, whose economy, if it were an American state, would rank just above Mississippi according to the Washington Post, committed to and succeeded in cutting its child poverty rate by half in 10 years. It is about values and political will. Sadly, politics too often trumps good policy and moral decency and responsibility to the next generation and the nation’s future. It is way past time for a critical mass of Americans to confront the hypocrisy of America’s pretension to be a fair playing field while almost 15 million children languish in poverty. This report calls for an end to child poverty in the richest nation on earth with a 60 percent reduction immediately. It shows solutions to ending child poverty in our nation already exist. For the first time this report shows how, by expanding investments in existing policies and programs that work, we can shrink overall child poverty 60 percent, Black child poverty 72 percent, and improve economic circumstances for 97 percent of poor children at a cost of $77.2 billion a year. These policies could be pursued immediately, improving the lives and futures of millions of children and eventually saving taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

Child poverty is too expensive to continue. Every year we keep 14.7 million children in poverty costs our nation $500 billion – six times more than the $77 billion investment we propose to reduce child poverty by 60 percent. MIT Nobel Laureate economist and 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Dr. Robert Solow in his foreword to a 1994 CDF report Wasting America’s Future presciently wrote: “For many years Americans have allowed child poverty levels to remain astonishingly high…far higher than one would think a rich and ethical society would tolerate. The justification, when one is offered at all, has often been that action is expensive: ‘We have more will than wallet.’ I suspect that in fact our wallets exceed our will, but in any event this concern for the drain on our resources completely misses the other side of the equation: Inaction has its costs too…As an economist I believe that good things are worth paying for; and that even if curing children’s poverty were expensive, it would be hard to think of a better use in the world for money. If society cares about children, it should be willing to spend money on them.”

Not only does child poverty cost far more than eliminating it would, we have so many better choices that reflect more just values as well as economic savings. We believe that food, shelter, quality early childhood investments to get every child ready for school and an equitable  education for all children should take precedence over massive welfare for the rich and blatantly excessive spending for military weapons that do not work. We cannot let our leaders spend $400 billion, without offsets, to make permanent tax breaks to wealthy corporations and others and then say we cannot afford to ensure every child is housed and fed.

Here are just a few ways we could fund the $77 billion — 2 percent of our national budget — to make a huge down payment on ending preventable, costly and immoral child poverty in our wealthy nation:

  • Closing tax loopholes that let U.S. corporations avoid $90 billion in federal income taxes each year by shifting profits to subsidiaries in tax havens; or
  • Eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy by taxing capital gains and dividends at the same rates as wages saving more than $84 billion a year; or
  • Closing 23 tax loopholes in former House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s Tax Reform Act of 2014 which would free up an average of $79.3 billion a year; or
  • Decreasing 14 percent of the nation’s FY2015 $578 billion military budget. The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but 37 percent of the world’s military expenditures; or
  • Scrapping the F-35 fighter jet program which is several years behind schedule and 68 percent over budget and still not producing fully functional planes. For the nearly $1.5 trillion projected costs of this program, the nation could reduce child poverty by 60 percent for 19 years.

If we love America and love our children we must all stand against the excessive greed that tramples millions of our children entrusted to our care. America’s Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.” After more than two centuries, it is time to make those truths evident in the lives of all poor children and to close our intolerable national hypocrisy gap and show the world whether democratic capitalism is an oxymoron or can work. A nation that does not stand for its children does not stand for anything and will not stand tall in the 21st century world or before God.

                                                                                                                         -Marian Wright Edelman

Let's Talk About Race

 Read Aloud

Book: Let's Talk About Race
Author: Julius Lester
Illustrator: Karen Barbour

Level: 2
Synopsis: "It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength." – Maya Angelou.

 "Let's Talk About Race, by Julius Lester, offers an opportunity for philosophical discussion about race, and how racial identity affects the way we view one another. While thinking about their own life stories and hearing those of their friend’s, students may begin to find that what looks like an easy question may not have such an easy answer. This will encourage them to break down their own assumptions about race and critically think about them." --Tom Wartenberg

Cheers and Chants

The Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools® program is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this summer and it seems like everyone is ready to commemorate the momentous occasion. See photos from years past of all the reading, singing, laughing and learning we do at CDF Freedom Schools!



Rashida Ford

 RASHIDA FORD is a fourth year Ella Baker Trainer originally from Philadelphia, PA.  Rashida first became involved with CDF Freedom Schools Program as a scholar in 1999. Since then she has served in many capacities as a Junior Servant Leader, Servant Leader Intern and Site Coordinator for the program. Her years of CDF Freedom Schools experience include serving in Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD and Bennettsville, South Carolina.

In addition to her involvement with CDF Freedom Schools, Rashida’s commitment to serving children has been evident in every aspect of her life. At the age of 21, Ford became the Owner and Manager of NIA Training and Consultant Services (NTCS), a training and development company which specializes in teambuilding and development workshops for both children and adults. Moreover, for the past 3 years, Ford’s Play on Purpose (P.O.P.) Initiative has serviced over 500 youth, developing them as athletes and leaders, both on and off the court. This year, the organization celebrates receiving federal 501(c)(3), which ultimately will expand opportunities for the organization and children serviced. She truly believes that every child is capable of achieving, and more importantly, that achievement looks differently for every child. Furthermore, she believes that it is the responsibility of the community to ensure that every child’s aspiration comes to life, which is what she strives to do daily.

Rashida’s service to children not only extends through her nonprofit work, but also inside the classroom every day in Baltimore City where she serves as a 5th grade teacher. She is a proud graduate of Morgan State University, and member of the illustrious, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is currently enrolled at Loyola University of Maryland, pursuing her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, with aspirations of attaining a Graduate Certificate in Non Profit Management shortly after.
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Jose Ferdinand

 JOSE FERDINAND is a fourth year Ella Baker Trainer. He is a native of Miami, Florida where he currently resides, but his parents were both born in Haiti. Jose has been happily married for four years and they have one child, a son named Jose D. Ferdinand II and one on the way. He was the first in his family to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in December. The degree was in Exceptional Student Education in and prior to graduating Jose secured a teaching position as a special education math teacher at Coral Springs High School. He is looking to go on and pursue a Master’s Degree in Education.  Jose tutors foster children and at-risk youth with a tutoring company. Since summer 2010 Jose has served with the Children’s Defense Fund as a Site Coordinator and Servant Leader Intern.  Jose has had a passion for children since 2008 when he worked at Nova Southeastern University with the Baudhin Preschool for Autism.  From there, he recognized the gap that was lacking for students with special needs and his desire is to become one of many teachers who begin to fill that gap. Starting an organization that allows parents, students and teachers to come together for the academic, physical, and nutritional improvement of the child is an aspiration that he holds.
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Marian Wright Edelman

 Moment of Silence

For many, the start of a new year is a chance to turn over a new leaf and take a hard look at the gap between who we say we want and need to be and who we are. As a nation it’s time to close our hypocrisy gap in the treatment of our children and value and protect our children—all of them. We need to examine with urgency how we treat our children and the gap between what we say and what we do.

If we did, we’d find:    

  • A public school student is suspended every 2 seconds.*
  • A public high school student drops out every 9 seconds.*
  • A child is arrested every 24 seconds.
  • A public school student is corporally punished every 30 seconds.*
  • A baby is born into poverty every 35 seconds.
  • A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds.
  • A baby is born without health insurance every minute.
  • A baby is born into extreme poverty every 68 seconds.
  • A baby is born to a teen mother every 2 minutes.
  • A baby is born at low birthweight every 2 minutes.
  • A child is arrested for a drug offense every 4 minutes.
  • A child is arrested for a violent offense every 8 and a half minutes.
  • A baby dies before his or her first birthday every 22 minutes.
  • A child or teen dies from an accident every hour.
  • A child or teen is killed by guns every three hours and 18 minutes.
  • A child or teen commits suicide every four hours and 11 minutes.
  • A child is killed by abuse or neglect every five and a half hours.
  • A baby’s mother dies from pregnancy or childbirth complications every 11 hours and eight minutes.

What do these numbers tell us about who we are as a nation and whether we value the life and potential of every child? Why do we choose to let children be the poorest age group in our rich nation and stand by as millions of children suffer preventable poverty, hunger, homelessness, sickness, neglect, abuse, miseducation, and violence? Why do we continue to mock God’s call for justice for children and the poor and our professed ideals of freedom and justice for all? 

It’s time to realize the promise of a fair playing field for all children. We can and must do better.

“A population that does not take care of the elderly and of children and the young has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise.” 
-- Pope Francis