Thursday, July 16, 2015

SOAR leadership needs to include poor people from East Kentucky, retired anti-poverty worker writes

Leadership of Shaping our Appalachian Region, a nonprofit started in Kentucky by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and 5th District U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, a Republican from the nation's poorest and most rural district, to help solve Eastern Kentucky's economic struggles, lacks any of the very people the initiative is trying to help, opines retired anti-poverty worker Robert Shaffer in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Shaffer writes:
Robert Shaffer
The people of Eastern Kentucky, especially the poor and unemployed, should take ownership of SOAR. But this requires leadership that will allow it...The executive board includes bank presidents, chief executive officers, coal operators and attorneys—the same kind of professionals who have led all previous efforts to rebuild the region.

Poverty statistics will once again be used to bring millions of dollars to Eastern Kentucky to be spent by those who are not poor. What is never considered is the enormous price poor families pay to produce these statistics. They are, after all, the expert witnesses. Who has a greater stake in SOAR's success?

It makes common sense that poor people should have seats at the table where decisions are made about how those funds will be spent. But it is an open secret that many in leadership do not want poor people to acquire the confidence to participate at the highest levels in programs designed to enable them to rise out of poverty.

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