|Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes, center left, with former Sen. Margaret Carter; Cascade president Algie Gatewood and Sheila Holden|
Oregon's First Lady, Cylvia Hayes, spoke at Portland Community College's Cascade campus May 9, about the state's newest anti-poverty efforts
Gov. Kitzhaber started the Oregon Prosperity Initiative to tackle poverty through prevention, creating opportunities for low-income Oregonians, and including anti-poverty efforts in the state's 10-year budget plan. Hayes is leading the effort, and reaching out to communities to let people know what is being done.
Failure to solve the state's hunger problem, alone, costs Oregon $1.2 billion a year, the initiative estimates. That's in lost education for children too hungry to concentrate in class, as well as in healthcare costs.
From The Prosperity Initiative website:
"Success for the Prosperity Initiative will mean that all Oregonians have comfortable homes and enough to eat," the initiative's website says. "All of our children, regardless of income levels, are getting a first-rate education. People in entry-level jobs have clear, navigable pathways to well-paid positions. Entrepreneurialism and innovation are thriving. Income inequality is shrinking dramatically.
"We will be successful when nobody has to experience that uncomfortable helpless feeling of just stepping past a person who doesn't have enough to eat or a place to sleep. We will have a sense of community and unity, knowing that we took on a bold mission and it is working. We all have enough. We all have dignity. We have dreams and aspirations and the belief that we can achieve them. Oregon is strong and vibrant because we have tapped the vast potential of all our people."
Among the Goals the Prosperity Initiative lists are:
• Reducing poverty from its current level of 17.5 percent to below 10 percent by 2020 and below 5 percent by 2025.
• Raising income levels to above the national average by 2020.
• Significantly reducing income inequality by 2025.
Visit the Prosperity Initiative Website