A Public Insight Network project

One in seven Americans lives in poverty, according to the most recent Census Bureau data [pdf]. It's the highest rate since 1994, and the highest number (43.6 million in 2009 up from 39.8 million in 2008) since 1959, the first year for which we have poverty estimates. Children under 18 are even worse off, with one in five in poverty. What can we do to reduce poverty? Submit your idea below, or comment or expand upon those of others.

Get more schooling or training
Idea from Therese S, North Hollywood, CA
Create green jobs
Idea from Cynthia H, Swampscott, MA
Invest in small business development
Idea from Cynthia H, Swampscott, MA
Raise minimum wage
Idea from Cynthia H, Swampscott, MA
Increase jobs
Idea from Ron B, Boston, MA
Clean up the crime in subsidized housing!
Idea from typog b, Rockland, MA
Help ex-prisoners get back to work
Idea from Christine A, Arlington, MA
Make friends and share your story
Idea from Eileen B, Manchester, NH
Pull together to support our government
Idea from PeggyAnn D, Bucksport, ME
Pay wages comparable to the cost of living
Idea from Jan L, Fairfield, ME
Subsidize transitional employment wages
Idea from Robert P, Roxbury, CT
Share food, not bombs
Idea from Jon S, Huntington, NY
Return value of all land occupied to the community (Abolish private land ownership)
Idea from Ronald R, Pittsburgh, PA
Adjust the numerical indices of poverty
Idea from Robert R, Wynnewood, PA
Read together as a family at home
Idea from Mary H, Wilmington, DE
Fund and use public libraries
Idea from Stephen L, Washington, DC
Pay living wages for ALL work (and institue a jobs program)
Idea from Nicholas B, Chevy Chase, MD
Create jobs from land policy change
Idea from Walter R, Silver Spring, MD
Assign health care case worker to people with chronic or systemic illnesses
Idea from Anna G, Falls Church, VA
Cap credit card interest rates and fees
Idea from Sarah W, Falls Church, VA
Punish companies who hire illegal immigrants
Idea from Ron W, Cary, NC
Pay people for any and all net benefits they produce
Idea from Larry M, Chapel Hill, NC
Teach them what you know
Idea from Julie M, Apex, NC
Invest in early childhood education
Idea from Elizabeth P, Chapel Hill, NC
Provide subsidies and support for quality day care
Idea from Carol H, Davidson, NC
Privatize Social Security (like Chile has)
Idea from Adakin V, Charleston, SC
Remember Coolidge: Get government out of the way!
Idea from Adakin V, Charleston, SC
Implement work programs
Idea from Ricardo B, Marietta, FL
Cover tuition for people working in areas of need (beyond teaching and health care)
Idea from Patricia L, Augusta, GA
Get banks to fund a microcredit program for poor in the United States
Idea from Mike S, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Invest in summer education programs
Idea from Robyn H, Birmingham, AL
Encourage people to tell their own stories
Idea from Elaine B, Memphis, TN
Target poverty wages
Idea from Kris J, Williston, OH
Create sustainable support systems within communities
Idea from Karen G, Livonia, MI
Employ the unemployed in meeting the needs of their local community
Idea from Robert V, Harrison, MI
Support mentoring programs
Idea from marcia s, Grand Rapids, MI
Provide school- and home-based tutors and mentors (and other education support)
Idea from Nicole D, Grand Rapids, MI
Adjust minimum wage monthly to regional cost of living
Idea from Vincent M, Marshalltown, IA
Educate to change financial behaviors
Idea from Jeanette P, Watertown, WI
Cultivate neighborhood grocery store mentors
Idea from Gail W, Milwaukee, WI
Teach and model self determination
Idea from Mary Lou Z, Milwaukee, WI
Follow some brutally simple steps
Idea from Karl H, Baraboo, WI
Reassess poverty levels
Idea from John K, South St. Paul, MN
Allow people on government assistance to build assets
Idea from Jo Ann T, St. Paul, MN
Reduce employer overhead...and more
Idea from Bob S, Gem Lake, MN
Take advantage of educational opportunities: Become a lifelong learner
Idea from Mike D, White Bear Lake, MN
Provide mobile-accessible bank accounts and graduated social services; reduce program bureaucracy
Idea from Greg H, Roseville, MN
Learn to manage a bank account
Idea from Frank V, Mahtomedi, MN
Hire older, experienced workers
Idea from Mitzi B, Maplewood, MN
Find satisfaction in more than money
Idea from Phil S, Eagan, MN
Provide free medical care
Idea from Betty P, Apple Valley, MN
Provide medical insurance
Idea from Judyth B, Writewordsinc@yahoo. com, MN
Shrink government
Idea from Kevin C, Chanhassen, MN
Freeze credit card interest and late fees
Idea from Dollis S, Green Isle, MN
Let homeless people live in empty homes
Idea from Dollis S, Green Isle, MN
Provide "one stop" coordinated and comprehensive social services
Idea from Rebekah M, Eden Prairie, MN
Support people early on: Avoid increasing poverty through neglect
Idea from E G, Eden Prairie, MN
Decriminalize petty drug offenses
Idea from Wanda M, Minneapolis, MN
Choose to live more simply
Implement a reversible income tax
Tax the rich!
Idea from Craig L, Minneapolis, MN
Promote self-employment
Idea from Mark R, Minneapolis, MN
Care about others (Fight the war within)
Idea from Patricia A, minneapolis, MN
Develop welfare programs that foster interdependent generations
Idea from Ajay B, Minneapolis, MN
Raise or eliminate public housing age limits
Idea from Monica W, Bloomington, MN
Enforce federal immigration laws
Idea from doug c, bloomington, MN
Implement a flat income tax
Idea from Lawrence L, Schroeder, MN
Stop random drug testing of federal employees
Idea from Cathy W, Duluth, MN
Raise the minimum wage
Idea from Steve M, Lake Lillian, MN
Idea from Mike N, Sartell, MN
Make higher education free to everyone
Idea from Paul S, Detoit Lakes, MN
Adjust society's attitude -- majorly
Idea from Jessica S, Fergus Falls, MN
Work together
Idea from Janet N, Fergus Falls, MN
Reduce government spending and lower taxes
Idea from Bradley L, Moorhead, MN
Increase public awareness of poverty
Idea from Kathleen K, Sioux Falls, SD
Ease process of getting small business loans
Idea from Thomas T, Mobridge, SD
Stop redefining poverty for political reasons
Idea from Matt E, Fargo, ND
Eliminate the link between politics and money
Idea from Perry L, Devils Lake, ND
Require social and emotional intelligence training in K-12 schools
Idea from Lorie W, Buffalo Grove, IL
Provide free or affordable counseling
Idea from Patrice M, Homewood, IL
Tax privilege, not productive work
Idea from Chuck M, Chicago, IL
Use technology to target youth mentoring efforts
Idea from Daniel B, Chicago, IL
Raise the poverty line, implement protectionist tariffs, and institute employee representation in corporate decision making
Idea from Keith A, , IL
Move commodity subsidies to small-scale farmers
Idea from Chris P, St. Louis, MO
Our Homeless Deserve Better
Idea from La Verne H, Columbia, MO
Define the problem (knowledge is power)
Idea from Greg J, NORTH PLATTE, NE
Assist in re-education if jobs not available
Idea from David F, Lafayette, LA
Improve technology (broadband access) in rural areas and invest in local, small business development
Idea from Terry B, Rison, AR
Provide low-income grants for two-year college and associated costs such as child care
Idea from Dr. Karon R, Little Rock, AR
Reimburse tuition for A and B college students
Idea from Greg S, Dallas, TX
Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Now
Idea from Don K, San Antonio, TX
Reduce government intervention
Idea from Jonathan V, San Antonio, TX
Implement a universal living wage
Idea from Curt Y, Austin, TX
Guarantee everyone a minimum annual income
Idea from Tom D, Boulder, CO
Provide resources for new, single moms -- and advertise them
Idea from Cori R, Salt Lake City, UT
A comprehensive Village for low-income Mothers and Children
Idea from Ann G, Santa Fe, NM
Create cooperative living communities for employed but homeless people
Idea from Michael E. R, San Diego, CA
Invest in training and employing new workers in sustainable energy
Idea from Michael E. R, San Diego, CA
Launch federal work opportunities
Idea from Howard K, Laguna Niguel, CA
Fold low- or no-cost early childhood education into daycare
Idea from Gail S, Menlo Park, CA
Eliminate both minimum wage and excessive executive compensation
Idea from John G, San Jose, CA
Invest in youth -- especially rehabilitated juvenile offenders
Idea from David S, Pittsburg, CA
Idea from Elizabeth L, San Jose, CA
End government assistance
Idea from Joy W, Copperopolis, CA
Vote for fiscal conservatives (regardless of party affiliation)
Idea from Richard B, Portland, OR
Change trade, labor, tax and finance laws
Idea from Michael K, Portland, OR
Encourage education
Idea from Grace E. R, Portland, OR
Make Social Security easier to navigate and obtain
Idea from Nan W, Portland, OR
Tackle poverty holistically -- then give people freedom to succeed
Idea from Michael D, Portland, OR
Provide low cost, subsidized higher education
Idea from Zoe P, Portland, OR
Live with less stuff
Idea from John C, Corvallis, OR
Support education through college
Idea from Kirke C, Corvallis, OR
Guarantee jobs for the poorest of the poor
Idea from Hugh M, Eugene, OR
Provide grants and tax breaks for worker-owned startups
Idea from Robin P, Seattle, WA
Institute an alternate economic system
Idea from Daniel R, Edmonds, WA
Fund health care for everyone via a uniform tax
Idea from Bea A, Tonasket, WA
Re-establish the middle class
Idea from Gene W, Bismarck, ND
Establish a universal guaranteed adequate income
Idea from Robert A, Victoria, BC
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