The UC Riverside Blum Initiative on Global and Regional Poverty in partnership with CalEITC4Me, a nonprofit focused on fostering economic opportunity and financial security for state’s working families and individuals, recently hosted the first ever Inland Empire Poverty Summit.
The event, featured Gene Sperling who served as the National Economic Council Director for two former presidents—Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, identified cooperative solutions to poverty in the inland region. Other participants in the inaugural event included 150 policy-makers, elected officials, non-profit leaders and service providers.
The summit focused in part, on both the national and California’s Earned Income Tax Credit, state and federal programs that provide a refundable tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families.
Sperling, who championed the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit during the Clinton Administration, noted in his keynote address, “As President Clinton often said, ‘If you work full time, you shouldn’t have to raise your kids in poverty.’ The Earned Income Tax Credit is a story of helping as you go. Every step along the way is about real people.”
The forum connected “evidence-based” best practices with those on the frontlines of poverty intervention across the inland region to build a holistic understanding of poverty in the area. The Blum Initiative issued a report which included local poverty trends over the past 15 years, poverty risk-factors, and provided a comparison to trends in neighboring counties.
During the summit, Joe Sanberg, founder of the nonprofit CalEITC4Me, noted, “The real measure of poverty is the daily experience and the silent suffering of those living with the constant struggle to afford life’s basic needs—that never-ending pit in your stomach.” Sanberg stressed how this is the case for the supermajority of those living in the Inland Empire.
He continued, “If you understand that so many Americans live in poverty because of a long set of bad and lazy economic policy choices, then you realize we can create a different future with different choices, and that is the source for authentic hope.”