Kevin Jenkins on the ‘What Works” Approach to Poverty, TribReview

A ‘What Works’ approach to poverty

By Kevin Jenkins
Friday, June 6, 2014

State Rep. Dave Reed is on the right path, headed in the right direction, to reduce poverty in Pennsylvania.

For far too long we have had a polarized debate over poverty. Many on the right view poverty as a personal moral failure. If the poor pull themselves up by their bootstraps, they would not be poor. On the left, many advocate for more money, believing that if we keep doing and funding the same things we have over the past 40 years, somehow we will finally get it right.

Both sides are wrong, and the Indiana County Republican legislator is taking steps to bring members of both camps together to seek solutions to poverty rather than bitter partisanship.

This year, Reed and his party’s Policy Committee embarked on a wide-ranging examination of poverty called “Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty.” By taking time to listen, ask questions, take testimony and learn from hundreds of experts, providers, consumers of services and everyday taxpayers, the committee identified poverty’s 13 barriers without getting into polarized political talking points.

This is exactly why The Pittsburgh Foundation, along with the United Way of Allegheny County and the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, started the Campaign for What Works — a statewide initiative committed to changing the tone of the debate around human services by supporting programs that work for the consumer, taxpayer and state.

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