Poverty and Inequality

Current Issues and Actions

Screening "Inequality for All"


Wisconsin Poverty Report: Economic Growth and Low Unemployment Not Enough to Reduce Child Poverty

Wisconsin has made little progress in reducing child poverty over the last two years, in spite of Wisconsin’s growing economy and record low unemployment rate, according to a report released earlier this week.

The eleventh annual Wisconsin Poverty Report, titled “Treading Water in 2017,” shows that according to the Wisconsin Poverty Measure, Wisconsin’s child poverty rate in 2017 was 10.1%, virtually the same as it was in 2015. While higher earnings by parents led to a reduction in child poverty from 2016 -- from 12.0% to 10.1% -- this was offset by increased work-related costs and medical expenses, and reductions in SNAP (FoodShare) and other benefits.

What can you do?

Read a summary of what the report shows about child poverty in Wisconsin.

Read the report for a fuller picture of poverty in Wisconsin.

Talk about what you learn with friends, family, and others in your circle of influence.

Use our outreach resources help grow the campaign.

Campaign to End Child Poverty

WISDOM and its partners call on people across Wisconsin to sign on to a new Campaign to End Child Poverty in Wisconsin. Over 200,000 kids in Wisconsin live in poverty:

African American kids are almost 5x more likely to be poor;

Latino kids are 3x more likely to be poor;

Native American kids are 4x more likely to be poor;

Go to the Campaign website, add your name, and encourage your friends to do the same towards our goal to bring 10,000 signers when we approach elected leaders to demand that ending child poverty be a goal for Wisconsin. Help us create moral outrage about the disgrace of child poverty in Wisconsin:

~ View a compelling video and share it with your friends:

~ Share the message on social media using our sample messages and graphics. Find them here;

~ Arrange to have a presentation. wisdomforjustice@gmail.com.

~ Use our petition, here, to encourage your personal contacts.

WISDOM President Rev. Willie Brisco: “Childhood should be a time of wonder and possibility. Children raised in poverty are less likely to see the world as a great adventure, and more likely to see it as a grim struggle for survival. As people of faith, we believe every child should have the chance to grow into the great person God created her to be.” This effort is a joint project of WISDOM, the Wisconsin Council of Churches, Kids Forward, and the Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund.

The Wisconsin Council of Churches offers the following resources for use in your congregation. Check them out.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development

“Tax revenues and public spending take on crucial economic importance for every civil and political community. The goal to be sought is public financing that is itself capable of becoming an instrument of development and solidarity.” As Congress begins deliberations on possible tax reform based on the “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code,” the following moral principles are offered to assist you:

1. Care for the poor.

2. Family formation and strengthening.

3. Progressivity of the tax code.

4. Adequate revenue for the sake of the common good.

5. Avoiding cuts to poverty programs to finance tax reform.

6. Incentivize charitable giving and development.

National tax policy is complex, and its effects far-reaching. As the country wrestles with how best to raise adequate revenue to serve the common good and provide increased financial stability, you are urged to recognize the critical obligation of creating a just framework aimed at the economic security of all people, especially the least of these.

Read Bishop Frank J. Dewane's full letters to the US Senate and US House of Representatives here.

Employ Milwaukee Job and Training Opportunities

Employ Milwaukee is the Workforce Development Board for Milwaukee County. Employ Milwaukee works with businesses to help them fill their workforce needs, as well as job-seekers get the skills and training they need to secure employment in good jobs with decent wages, benefits and career ladders. They have a listserv with 100+ contacts that includes our contracted service providers, non-profit organizations, community partners, other religious organizations, libraries, resource rooms, etc. in order to get the word out far and wide about job and training opportunities for those interested.

If you are interested in this type of information, please contact Sara Rogers at sara.rogers@employmilwaukee.org or (414-270-1727) to be added to the list serve.

An intractable problem: For the last half-century, Milwaukee has been caught in a relentless social and economic spiral, By John Schmid and Kevin Crowe, JS Online

Public health experts in Milwaukee and around the nation now see a direct link between childhood trauma and an incapacitated workforce. Improving the latter is impossible without addressing the former. Children exposed to abuse, violence and neglect may not be able to concentrate in school, much less job training programs. They often grow up without the temperament to coordinate with customers and co-workers. They struggle with sleep disorders and register high levels of absenteeism. "Adding good new jobs won’t heal post-traumatic stress," Read the Article

Poverty, Inequality and Economics: A Series of Short Films by Robert Reich

In MoveOn’s Big Picture video series on how to save the economy hosted on their website, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich lays out a series of economic principles and policy proposals that could create an economy that works for everyone. The series includes fight for $15, End Mass Incarceration, Help Working Families, Reinvent Education and more. Each of the videos is less than three minutes. View them here.

Paul Ryan on Past Comments About the Poor: 'I Was Just Wrong'

"There was a time when I would talk about a difference between 'makers' and 'takers' in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits. But as I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized I was wrong. 'Takers' wasn’t how to refer to a single mom stuck in a poverty trap, just trying to take care of her family. Most people don't want to be dependent. And to label a whole group of Americans that way was wrong. I shouldn’t castigate a large group of Americans to make a point.

"So I stopped thinking about it that way—and talking about it that way. But I didn’t come out and say all this to be politically correct. I was just wrong." See more

A Few Things You Need to Know About Poverty in the U.S. Right Now

As Catholics, we strive for an economy that places people first. Everyone has a right to live in dignity, free from poverty, with decent work at just wages. Life in America is far from our Catholic understanding of a just economy. Read the article

Resources for Combating Poverty

Wisconsin Council of Churches

Combating Poverty Elevating the Debate

Faithful Citizenship Letter

Building Thriving Community; Beyond Segregation in Milwaukee – Sunday, Oct 5

Zeidler Center for Public Discussion

The Greater Together Coalition

Community Organizers

• WISDOM Affiliates – 11x15 Prison Reform

Common Ground – Fair Play, Milwaukee Rising, Healthcare Coop

Citizens United/Campaign Funding Reform

Story of Citizens United www.storyofstuff.org

Minimum Wage

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities offers a succinct primer on the minimum wage

Economic Policy Institute Raising America’s Pay - educational tools to show the disconnect between minimum wage in comparison to inflation and workplace productivity.

Also see http://www.raisetheminimumwage.com/ for campaigns on raising the minimum wage.

Voter Registration - Milwaukee County Referendum

Inequality for All – Resource and Action Guide

Contact and Educate Your Legislators Using

The Comprehension Check In and Legislator Education Guide


Host a parish or in home screening of "Inequality for All"

A passionate argument for the middle class. The 400 richest Americans now own more wealth than the bottom 150 million combined. Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich sees this disparity as a threat to democracy. “Inequality for All" explains why. Discussion guide and discussion leaders and assistance with promotion are available through Catholics for Peace and Justice. Contact us at info@Catholicsforpeaceandjustice.org