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Discussion Guide | FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty

Discussion Guide

<em>FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty</em> subjects and experts

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About the Film

In FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty, we follow the stories of five people experiencing intergenerational poverty who will help our audience better understand the challenges that can make it difficult to escape the cycle of poverty.

FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty is not a series of stories of “those” poor people. It is about our Chicago neighbors who are fighting hard to overcome barriers with hope for a better future. FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty allows viewers to walk in the shoes of individuals and families who are confronting significant, real issues that anyone in the same situation would find difficult. There are many aspects of poverty shown in the film, and each aspect of it is not singularly experienced. The intersectional aspect of poverty compounds during life course, and its multiplicity and complexity make it nearly impossible to keep going in the face of such adversity.

Poverty is exacerbated by environmental conditions that beget individual and family consequences and by stressors that make it very difficult to break the cycle of poverty. However, we see a glimmer of hope through the strength demonstrated against nearly insurmountable odds by each person in the film. We will reflect on the experiences of poverty from their points of view and think of ways to undo the societal and economic forces that generate such inequities. We will also discuss what community resources can be leveraged to bring lasting solutions for our Chicago neighbors to leave behind the life of poverty and start reaching for the American Dream that we all are promised in this country.

Quick Facts

  • Poverty is quite prevalent in American adult life. At least half (51.37 percent) of American adults will experience at least one year of income poverty by age 65. And a great majority (67 percent) will experience at least one year of poverty by age 85. The racial difference is stark, with 84.43 percent of African American adults experiencing poverty by age 65 and 90.98 percent by age 75, while 45.29 percent of white/ European Americans experience poverty by age 65 and 52.55 percent by age 75. And by age 60, 61.8 percent of American adults will experience relative poverty below the bottom 20th percentile income distribution for at least a year and 42.1 percent will fall below the 10th percentile.1,2,3
  • The official U.S. income poverty rate in 2019 was 10.5 percent, which equals nearly 34 million Americans living below the poverty line, which is approximately $13,011 for one-person households, $16,521 for two people, and $26,172 for four people. This official poverty measure (OPM) includes only pretax income. OPM is used to determine eligibility for government programs.4
  • Based on OPM, African Americans (9.1 percent) and Hispanic Americans (15.7 percent) were disproportionately living in poverty compared to white/European Americans (9.1 percent) in 2019.4
  • In 2019, this OPM rate was 14.4 percent for children under the age of 18, 9.4 percent for adults aged between 18 and 64, and 9.7 percent for older adults aged above 65.4
  • In 2019, Social Security continued to be the most important anti-poverty program, moving

    26.5 million individuals out of poverty. Refundable tax credits moved 7.5 million people out of poverty.4

  • In 2019, 8 percent of Americans, or an estimated 26.1 million people, did not have health insurance at some point in the year. Medicaid coverage was 19.8 percent in 2019.4
  • The supplemental poverty measure (SPM) complements the OPM. It takes into account many government programs that assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in OPM. The SPM rate in 2019 was 11.7 percent, which is 1.3 percentage points higher than the OPM rate of 10.5 percent.4,5
  • At the state level, the three-year (2017-2019) average income poverty rate in Illinois was 10.4 percent.4,6
  • Locally, Cook County has nearly 135,236 families in income poverty, which is a poverty rate of approximately 11.4 percent. The poverty rate among children aged 0-5 is 22.1 percent in Cook County. 7
  • The City of Chicago has approximately 87,515 families in income poverty, which accounts for a 15.5 percent poverty rate. The child poverty rate for those between the ages 0-5 is 28.3 percent. Nearly 1 in 10 Chicago residents are living in extreme poverty, with an income below 50 percent OPM. Approximately 76 percent of Chicago Public School (CPS) students are receiving free or subsidized meals, and 16,000 students are homeless.7,8
  • Almost 1 in 4 Americans live in asset poverty, which is defined as not having financial assets to live at the income poverty level for 3 months given income interruption. Nearly 23. 4 percent of Illinois households live in asset poverty.9
  • Nearly 30 percent of American households do not have a savings account.7
  • Despite the fifth consecutive annual decline in poverty in 2019, many Americans continue to face financial hardship. Liquid asset poverty — not having sufficient resources to manage in the event of an emergency — is experienced by 36.9 percent of American households, and net worth asset poverty — debts outweighing household assets — affect 15.7 percent of American households.10
  • Nearly 15 percent of Americans are not able to pay their current monthly bills in full. And 30 percent of Americans would not be able to cover a $400 emergency expense using cash.11

About the Filmmaker

Dan Protess is the executive producer of FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty. He most recently wrote and produced a half-hour documentary about mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot, in addition to the second season of his award-winning series Urban Nature, which explores how nature is thriving in American cities.

Dan served as the executive producer, producer, and writer of the WTTW-produced PBS primetime history series 10 That Changed America. Its final season was seen by more than 10 million viewers on television, online, and at events across the country.

Dan’s previous productions include the culinary series FOODPHILES, as well as the Chicago history specials Chicago Time Machine, Chicago’s Loop: A New Walking Tour, Biking the Boulevards, and Chicago’s Lakefront. He also wrote and produced the Emmy-winning, James Beard-nominated The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History. Dan previously produced candidate forums and feature stories for the nightly newsmagazine program Chicago Tonight, for which he covered the U.S. Senate campaign of Barack Obama.

About the Discussion Guide Writer

Dr. Philip Young P. Hong is a community-based poverty and workforce development researcher who holds positions as Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the School of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago. He heads the Center for Research on Self-Sufficiency (CROSS) as the Founding Director and is a Faculty Associate of the Center for Social Development (CSD) at Washington University in St. Louis. He earned his MSW and PhD at the Brown School of Washington University in St. Louis, and he also holds an MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

He is the developer of the Transforming Impossible into Possible (TIP)® intervention model that applies the theory of psychological self-sufficiency to strengthen individuals’ goal-directed processes to reach success outcomes.12,13,14,15 His main academic interest is in poverty and workforce development. Dr. Hong’s research program has focused on structural poverty and social exclusion in the United States and international/comparative social welfare. He is currently partnering with local work-force development initiatives to develop bottom-up strategies for empowering low-income individuals and families in their quest to achieve self-sufficiency.

Dr. Hong serves as the principal investigator for federally and privately funded community-based projects and as a consultant for various national and international organizations. His research is being cited and used to improve social service efficacy and inform social policy development/improvement. His community-based research has been funded directly and indirectly by the U.S. Department of Human Services, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, State of Illinois Department of Children and Families (DCFS), State of Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Community Trust, Korea Foundation, Lilly Endowment, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, Pritzker Early Childhood Foundation, and Telligen Community Initiative.

Purpose of this Discussion Guide

This discussion guide provides questions and resources to help viewers and community facilitators connect with the WTTW FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty series through a personalized reflective learning process. It aligns with the purpose of the WTTW FIRSTHAND project to put a human face on the issue of poverty in Chicago and brings to life important stories from personal, firsthand perspectives to overcome stereotypes and shorthand. This discussion guide provides tools to unpack the complexities and deep-rooted chains of structural, organizational, and individual forces that perpetuate poverty as a tough issue to tackle and eradicate. It also helps open up dialogues for viewers to experience the reality of poverty by connecting with each of the five featured participants.

This discussion guide is meant to support community members and organizations, educators, faith community leaders, and policymakers in facilitating important conversations on issues raised by viewing the film. Your screening can spark dialogue that can be used for everything from creating healing conversations to strategic community action plans. There are many ways to use the film:

  • Engage in conversation concerning poverty and the many individuals impacted
  • Highlight ways that individuals and communities struggle through the barriers of poverty, yet find ways to move forward
  • Explore the intersection of poverty with other societal and economic conditions and personal challenges
  • Brainstorm points of multifaceted prevention and intervention methods at the individual, community, and policy level for those most impacted by poverty
  • Encourage community members from all walks of life to reflect on personal views, decisions, and actions concerning poverty across the spectrum

We encourage you to use this guide as a tool to organize screening events utilizing the stories in the film. Each of the five individuals’ stories are separated into three parts each for focused discussions. Each story includes overarching themes related to poverty; however, many of the themes overlap. This guide includes the backgrounds of the subjects, discussion questions, background reading and links, and resources that can help you build successful events that can engage viewers in moving from being a bystander to one who is committed to action to address one of our country’s most pressing issues.

Laying the Groundwork for Dialogue

Every moment of FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty is filled with information, references, and conversation prompts, both aural and visual. Allow yourself time to process the film with others after the screening.

Creating a Safe Space

FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty deals with a subject matter that is personal to many people and is filled with many issues that are complex, nuanced, and can be difficult to discuss. In order to create the most productive outcome, you will want to ensure that everyone feels welcome and safe in order to maximize discussion.

Try to pay attention to the details of the film — the relationships between the key subjects, the references that the subjects make, and the environment that they are in. Pay attention to your own physiological responses. Often, our deepest insights can come when we pay attention to our own emotional and visceral reactions. Choose not to turn away, as your own reactions are opportunities that can lead to meaningful discussions. Stay open to your own reactions to the feelings, thoughts, and ideas shared, as they touch your own fears, anxieties, anger, grief, and joy. As much as possible, make notes of your responses as you watch the film, as they can be meaningful during later discussions.

Consider Timing

The entire film is approximately 150 minutes long. You may prefer to watch portions of the film or to focus on a few of the shorter segments. You may also want to allow at least an hour after the film for discussion.

Follow Up

The film will raise many concerns that will not be resolved after the screening. Find time to follow up with viewers, offering opportunities for resource sharing with others working around these issues. See the appendices for a list of local and national organizations and resources related to addressing poverty.

Consider Your Audience

Although unrated, the film is best viewed by mature audiences and teens. There is little to no visual content that may be considered objectionable; however, the subject matter deals directly with poverty, struggles with finances, neighborhood violence, substance abuse, incarceration, and family losses and strengthening. Do not hesitate to ask an expert (social worker, mental health worker, community practitioner, scholar, etc.) to help guide your discussion or be present for the screening and discussion.

2-4 Weeks Prior
  • Develop your invitation list.
  • For an In-Person Event
    • Select a location that allows for good screening and ensure that proper seating and audio-visual equipment will be available and set up.
    • Be mindful of any security needs. Many venues require security based on the number of attendees.
    • Be sure that your location is accessible to all. Consider the visual, auditory, language, and physical needs of your viewers.
    • Design and send an e-mail that describes the name and purpose of the film, the purpose of the discussion, the format of the post-screening discussion (panel discussion, moderated Q & A, small group discussions, open discussion format, peace circles, snacks or dinner, etc.).
    • If you are planning a potluck or other special aspects, make sure to include this information in your invitation, as well.

  • If you are in a setting that does not allow for a minimum of two hours to both watch and discuss the film afterward (such as during school hours or at an afterschool or outreach program), you may want to show shorter clips from the film, highlighting one or two of the participants’ stories or smaller sections of their stories. Make sure you have allowed enough time for set up, as well.
  • For a Virtual Event
    • Follow the same recommended planning procedure for an in-person event.
    • Make sure to create the virtual conference event with the link that can be shared with the invited guests. It is important to check for the maximum capacity allowed on the event before sending out the invitation. If restricted to a certain number of participants, include that information on the invitation.
    • Check for video and audio sharing settings on the virtual platform so that with the system sound on, your computer can be heard by the invited viewers. Please make sure to turn off all other apps in the background that might make noise, e.g., email alerts, notifications, etc.
  • 2 Weeks Prior
    • If having an in-person event, make reservations for any food or beverages you plan to have for the discussion, and decide whether you want to offer this before, during, or after watching the film or discussion.
    • Prepare an agenda. This can be as formal or informal as you wish; however, you may want to consider who will introduce the film, the start time of the film and the subsequent start time of the discussion, who will facilitate the discussion, and wrap-up and evaluation procedures. The discussion guide can serve as a tool to provide discussion questions, prompts, and resource sharing related to the film in order to have a robust and meaningful discussion.
    1 Week Prior
    • Send a reminder e-mail to those who have RSVP’d and those who have not.
    • Consider sending RSVP’d guests a link to the film’s website and social media pages to engage them with information about the film and get your guests excited about the event. You may want to consider sending a link to one of the articles listed in the resource page to prepare them for the screening and discussion.
    3 Days Prior
    • Reconfirm your location and any food and beverages for an in-person event.
    • You may want to send a final e-mail to RSVP’d guests as a reminder and send any links to the late RSVPs.
    Day of the Event
    • Arrive early for set up and check all audio-visual equipment (sound, lighting, etc.).
    • If holding an in-person event and your venue is large, be sure to place signs throughout the venue to direct your guests to the screening area.
    • Have your agenda on hand.
    • Ensure that all participants know their roles and have prepared in advance.
    • Welcome everyone and introduce the film!
    Day After the Event
    • Send a thank-you note to all guests who attended and include any follow-up activities.
    • Open up opportunities to stay connected and share ideas for taking future actions after viewing the film.

    Overall Structure of the Discussion Questions

    Part 1
    • Understanding of Poverty
    • Significance of Poverty
    • Relevance/Proximity of Poverty
    Part 2
    During and Post-Screening
    • Reflection on Barriers
    • Strengths and Hope
    • Renewed Understanding of Poverty
    Part 3
    • Resource Activation
    • Targeting and Recruitment
    • Dissemination

    Viewing and Discussing the Film

    Drawing upon the intersectionality framework, this discussion guide connects with the lived experiences of poverty by the five individuals featured in the WTTW FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty series. Intersectionality provides an understanding of how social categorizations and identities overlap and intersect within a system to affect behaviors.16,17 Disadvantages in one area overlap or intersect with others — including financial deprivation, poor health, lack of access to resources, and social stigmatization — and add to the comprehensive vulnerability in the marketplace.18

    Also using the psychological self-sufficiency (PSS) framework, this discussion guide helps highlight the strengths found in each individual who are not succumbing to the combined forces of structural vulnerability but overcoming the intersected barriers with actions of hope to reach their small step goals.19 The journey depicted by these individuals highlights the transformative change processes that create a ripple effects of supportive structures that help individualized movement out of poverty.

    Part 1: Pre-Screening

    Understanding of Poverty
    • How is success defined in the United States, i.e., what is the American Dream? How would this translate to the localized context of Chicago?
    • What is the pathway to success?
    • What is poverty? Is poverty the opposite of success?
    • How is poverty measured? How would you know if someone is in poverty?
    • Who are the poor?
    • How far is poverty from the middle class? Who are the near poor (living close to poverty but not in poverty)?
    • How livable is it when someone is in poverty? Can you afford the essentials in life with a poverty income or an income below the official poverty line?
    • Is there a difference between extreme/abject poverty and being right below the poverty line?
    Significance of Poverty
    • What causes poverty?
    • What parts of individual life, community, and society does poverty affect? What does poverty lead to? In what ways and to what magnitude does poverty affect the things that it leads to?
    • Is poverty considered a problem in the United States and Chicago?
    • How big is the issue of poverty in the United States and Chicago?
    • Is poverty growing or declining in the United States and Chicago?
    • Is poverty concentrated in specific regions of the United States or areas in Chicago? How so and why?
    Relevance/Proximity of Poverty
    • Have you ever been in poverty? Has anyone around you experienced poverty?
    • Can anyone fall into poverty? How so? Is it possible that you could potentially fall into poverty?
    • Is someone stuck once falling into poverty? Is it possible to get out of poverty? How does poverty in general affect you? How does poverty affect the community/society?
    • How would it affect you/community/society differently when there is a large percentage of people in poverty in comparison to a small percentage?
    • How would it affect you/community/ society differently when people with certain characteristics are more likely to be in poverty for a longer period of time?

    Part 2: During and Post-Screening

    Reflection on Barriers
    • What are your first thoughts about the individual struggling to fight through poverty?
    • What obstacles do you see that are relatively easier to overcome?
    • What obstacles do you see that are very difficult or impossible to overcome?
    • What strengths do you find in this person?
    • What is the motivation for this person to overcome the current situation?
    • What strategies is this person employing to get out of poverty?
    • How successful are these strategies against the obstacles faced by this individual?
    • Are these strategies winning solutions that will enable this individual to move out of poverty?
    Strengths and Hope
    • In what part of the person’s story do you see yourself?
    • Do you connect with the situation through the difficult circumstances, relationships, decision making, etc.?
    • Do you connect with the obstacles, strengths, or strategies?
    • What strengths would you have to overcome the same situation as this person?
    • What strengths do you lack in comparison to the person in the film?
    • How would you overcome the relatively easier obstacles that the person is faced with?
    • How would you face the obstacles that are seemingly very difficult or impossible to overcome?
    Renewed Understanding of Poverty
    • What is poverty?
    • What causes poverty?
    • What are the consequences of poverty?
    • How close is poverty to you? To your family? To your community? To your society? To your country?

    Part 3: Synthesis/Action

    Resource Activation
    • What resources do you see in the film that the character can better utilize to get out of the current situation?
    • What resources are further needed to alleviate the experience and consequence of poverty that you saw in the film?
    • If you had a magic wand, what would you propose as the solution to the poverty situation that the individuals are facing?
    • What would be the overarching approach that you would prescribe to tackle the issue of poverty?
    Targeting and Recruitment
    • What is one thing that you would like to target as a solution to poverty?
    • What commitment would you make to support the spirit of transforming the most difficult situations from “impossible” to “possible”?
    • How would you approach having conversations about the issue of poverty being of concern to all of us?
    • How would you enlist supporters from the wider Chicagoland community and around the country to support the resource needs as you identified in Part 3?
    • What innovative method of sharing these stories would you recommend to help our community and society to empathize with these various people in the film?
    • What unique questions would you add to help specific audiences better connect with these stories?

    Melissa Fonseca

    Melissa Fonseca

    Key Themes: Employment, Financial Struggles, Education, College, Family Relationship, Social Support, Hope

    Watch Melissa’s Story

    Melissa Fonseca has worked at a pharmacy chain for 17 years, but still makes barely enough to cover her bills. Meanwhile, the lifelong Humboldt Park resident sees her neighborhood being transformed by a wave of wealthy new residents who have been afforded the advantages that have always seemed out of her reach. Will Melissa ever be able to get ahead? A reunion with her estranged mom might hold the answers she’s been looking for.

    Part 1: Pre-Screening

    Think about the questions on the understanding, significance, and relevance/proximity of poverty before viewing the film (pp. 8-9).

    Discussion Questions

    Part I
    1. How does work relate to poverty? Can you work very hard and still be poor? How does this connect with the American Dream and economic success?
    2. What is most frustrating for Melissa in her current situation?
    3. What is Melissa’s goal? What are the barriers to reaching her goal? List as many as you can.
    4. How difficult is it to move up or get a raise within the same company in general? What is the outlook for career advancement if you have a low-skilled job?
    5. What would it feel like if you started a job 17 years ago at $7.20/hour with 25-50 cent annual raises only to find that the minimum wage increase was the only way to reach $13.00/hour after 10 years of being loyal to the company? And what would it feel like to find that the newly hired employees with no experience are coming in at this rate while it took 17 years for you to be paid this much?
    6. What is the minimum wage in Illinois? Is the minimum wage a livable wage?
    7. What does barely getting by look like? What does barely getting by feel like?
      1. How should Melissa stay within her budget so she doesn’t fall behind on her bills? What essentials have to be sacrificed if you cannot afford all your expenses (gas, food, books, etc.)?
      2. Is Melissa ashamed when her kids see her struggling with finances?
    8. Is Melissa stuck in her minimum-wage job with a low education? Is her perception that she is not able to get another job without a high school diploma an accurate account of her reality, or is she limiting herself by believing this? Why does she feel she is not smart enough to go back to school?
    9. As a single mother of four children (with the youngest child being 5 years old), is it possible for Melissa to work on her education, keep a job, and be a parent all at once? Does something have to be pushed to the side? What would it take for her to invest in her education to find a higher paying job?
    10. How is Melissa’s relationship with her mother affecting her? Do you think not talking to her for the last two years has taken a toll on her? Why or why not?
    11. Melissa’s father was a stay-at-home dad who took care of things around the home — child care, cooking, etc. — while her mother worked full-time. Her mother had 6 children by the age of 21 and fought hard both to make a living for her family and to go back to college at age 35, where she later received a master’s degree.
      1. What could have been Melissa’s image of her in the beginning when you first see her in the film?
      2. The story unfolds with her mother having faced many challenges, which inspires Melissa to overcome her own barriers in life.
      3. How did it change after learning about her mother’s childhood story of being beaten by her father, entering the foster care system at the age of 11, and having later experienced homelessness with 6 children?
    12. Melissa has applied for a program in which the state pays for a portion of her child care costs. Do you see her working situation being possible without quality, affordable child care?
    13. Why does Melissa not want her kids to work in non-career jobs, as she does? How does she feel about her job? Would she be in a different place if she had the proper tools and guidance?
    Part II
    1. Humboldt Park has been a neighborhood of Blacks and Puerto Ricans, but gentrification has changed everything — it moved the gangs out, but it is no longer the place that Melissa remembers from growing up. How does she feel seeing her own neighborhood with most of her friends having been forced out? How does she feel seeing fewer kids, more condos (new developments), more joggers, fewer block parties, and only white people?
      1. How does the current neighborhood climate compare to the old days when neighbors knew each other and took care of each other when she was growing up?
      2. How does Melissa feel when she says that she feels judged in her own neighborhood for her race, her appearance, how she dresses, number of children, etc.?
    2. Why does Melissa say that she wants to live in the shoes of a white person for one day?
    3. Melissa was shot in front of her porch when she was 12.
      1. How does her past trauma affect her as she thinks about being in a safe neighborhood for her children?
      2. What would safety mean for her children? What would being in a better place mean for her ability to focus on her education and get a better job?
    4. Before she got pregnant, she wanted to go to college and make a different life for herself. She did one semester before finding out that she was expecting. How does she remember these experiences as they relate to her mother’s expectation? How does this translate to her commitment to go back to college in the near future?
    5. What are some barriers even to getting started on her college education, e.g., placement tests, whether online or in-person learning is available, and the particular days that courses are offered?
    6. What does her mother tell her about getting started? How does Melissa react? How does her position change when she hears her mother being confident in her that she can do really well?
      1. What does it mean to Melissa when she learns about the obstacles that her mother had to overcome while pursuing her education?
      2. Getting a degree comes with many painstaking sacrifices. What does her mother tell her about her regrets of not having invested in her children’s education and helping them achieve their dreams?
    7. How does Melissa feel being encouraged by her mother?
    Part III
    1. What is Melissa’s entrepreneurial dream? How is she realizing her dream one step at a time? How does she feel when she talks about the possibility of turning this idea into a business?
    2. How and why do clothes make her feel good? Why did having children make her lose confidence? She talks about not getting compliments and how wearing something new and nice brings welcome attention when she looks and feels pretty. How do these feelings fuel her passion to bring resources into the marketplace to reach other women?
    3. How does getting the confirmation and business advice from her mother make a difference in her pursuing this dream?
    4. How meaningful is it that Melissa’s mother says that she can do it, and Melissa wants to show her that she can?
    5. How is the goal of getting out of the Walgreens job motivating her to stay the course with pursuing her dream?
    6. How is the repaired relationship with her mother changing her motivation?
    7. How has she gone from being scared of going back to college to being committed to taking one class at a time? How does she now see that this is possible compared to previously thinking that she couldn’t handle taking care of herself, keeping a job, and being a mother?
    8. There has been a complete transformation of Melissa, who now says that education is top priority for her. How passionate is she to make sure that she has a stable home for her kids and can help them go to college and chase their own dreams?
    Part 2: During and Post-Screening

    Think about the questions on the reflection on barriers, strengths and hope, and renewed understanding of poverty during and after viewing the film (pp. 9-10).


    Audra Wilson, President and CEO of Shriver Center on Poverty Law

    Watch "Unbuckling the Bootstraps Narrative"

    Audra Wilson explodes the myth that people in poverty made personal choices that put them there. Only by shattering the dominant narrative and addressing the systemic roots of inequality can we pull the millions of Americans mired in poverty out of the shadows.

    • What does Audra Wilson see as the solution to poverty?
    • How does Audra Wilson’s view of poverty/definition of poverty connect with the ideas that she provides for alleviating poverty?
    • How do these ideas support Melissa’s ability to leverage her strengths and the resources necessary to confront the barriers and overcome them with hope and by setting goals?
    Part 3: Synthesis and Action

    Think about the questions on resource activation, targeting and recruitment, and dissemination (pp. 10).

    Dominetrius Chambers

    Dominetrius Chambers

    Key Themes: College, Independence, Family Support, Mentorship, Neighborhood Violence, Fear, Hope

    Watch Dominetrius’ Story

    Dominetrius Chambers seemed to be poised for success: the 20-year-old graduated third in her high school class. But the next steps that a middle-class woman her age might take — college, career, an apartment — have proven elusive. Then Dominetrius discovered My Block, My Hood, My City, a nonprofit that introduced her to mentors and exposed her to different neighborhoods around the city. Will the excitement of new people and places lead to greater opportunity?

    Part 1: Pre-Screening

    Think about the questions on the understanding, significance, and relevance/proximity of poverty before viewing the film (pp. 8-9).

    Discussion Questions

    Part I
    1. As an intelligent, outspoken, outgoing person from a very close and supportive family in North Lawndale, how does Dominetrius feel about her family? How does she describe her connection to family?
    2. What are the living conditions in her grandmother’s home?
    3. Dominetrius says that her goals are to move out on her own by the time school starts, finish her associate’s degree, and have a good-paying job. Are those goals wishful thinking or concrete enough for her to follow a straight path to get there?
    4. What does she think about school and education? How is she affected by her family to pursue her education?
      1. How is education different than a diploma? Is getting a diploma a ticket to success? She seems to think that school is important for her to “make something out of my life and become big.” In the abstract, she seems to see degrees, diplomas, and grades as important for building a career. She attaches great meaning to them, as neither her grandmother nor mother graduated from high school or college.
      2. What is the true meaning of education for Dominetrius? Is it simply that without a degree, you will not get a good job, or is it to prepare you for lifelong growth and development?
    5. What was her experience going to college in Columbia, South Carolina with her sister? How did she do without having her grandmother and mother as support during college while claiming that she needed to have independence?
    6. How does she feel about giving up college and coming back to Chicago? How did she face her mother, who is a very strong person, hard worker, and has high expectations of Dominetrius?
    7. What was Dominetrius’s main barrier to completing college? Why was it difficult for her be away from her family for a long period of time? Why does she feel that leaving her community will hold her back from moving forward?
    8. Why does Dominetrius have doubts about herself while she is so determined get things done?
    9. How does she feel about her neighborhood?
    10. What different did it make in Dominetrius’s life to have Lady as her mentor? How did it matter that she was well connected to people in the community? She remembers Lady calling her a song bird and encouraging her during high school.
      1. How did this relationship translate to her getting straight As and loving to go to school?
      2. How important was it that Lady always told her that she will be something? How did it motivate Dominetrius to have someone believe in her? How comforting was it to know that Lady is someone she could go to for anything, having her as a role model, and trusting that Lady knows the routes and how to navigate college life?
    11. My Block, My Hood, My City (M3) is a nonprofit organization that takes students out of Chicago to travel to other cities. M3 helped Dominetrius grow, motivated her to talk in front of people, and learn new things by going to different places, helping her overcome fear.
      1. How important is it that these types of experiences help students to see things outside of their violence-stricken neighborhoods?
      2. What was the impact that leaving Chicago for the first time to visit Springfield, Illinois had on Dominetrius? How did discovering new places and having new experiences make her feel?
    12. M3 helped her and other kids to overcome fear by taking them sailing on Lake Michigan. Steering the boat was scary, but she tried it and found herself in a new place by taking the chance to experience something that she had never imagined doing. How do these experiences open up possibilities and opportunities in Dominetrius’s life?
    13. How strong is her goal to leave North Lawndale, to take her family out of the neighborhood, and to find a better life in a different city? How does she see herself to coming back and helping out later?
    Part II
    1. Dominetrius has been working for M3 since 2017, giving tours of North Lawndale to members of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and people from all over the world. One purpose of the tours is to help stop the violence.
      1. How meaningful is it for Dominetrius to help change the perception of CPD and build a better relationship between the youth in North Lawndale and the police?
      2. Dominetrius says, “No matter our race, we deal with the same things, have the same struggles.” How well was her message understood? How does this create a bridge between the police and the youth?
    2. How does Lady help Dominetrius achieve independence by looking for an apartment? How does her encouragement make a difference?
    3. Dominetrius does not want to disappoint her girlfriend India. How does her relationship with India inspire her to do better in life? How does the relationship help her dream outside of North Lawndale to imagine what the future may have in store to help her feel free, beautiful, and open to all possibilities?
    4. How important is it for Dominetrius to have a father figure like Jahmal and to understand all the struggles he faced starting M3? How does Dominetrius become motivated by his encouragement to go back to school and finish?
    Part III
    1. Dominetrius is in her last semester at Malcolm X College, and she needs to register for classes. Why does it seem as though everything is falling apart for her? How does she feel as she contemplates giving up?
      1. How do not being able to find a job, not having an apartment, financial insecurity, personal relationships, etc. all affect her?
      2. What goes through her mind as she goes through a time of introspection?
    2. As a first-generation college student, what level of pressure does Dominetrius feel from her grandmother? How do the following conditions play a role in that pressure?
      1. Having come from Mississippi herself, her grandmother has high expectations and has set a high bar for her family.
      2. Her grandmother is sick with cancer.
      3. Her grandmother stresses, “If we don’t make it out of the hood, our family never will. I’m not just doing this for myself, I’m doing it for my family, as well.”
    3. How does Dominetrius feel when she finally finds an apartment in Indiana through the help of her brother? This was the first step in getting out of Chicago, which allows her to reach for her next goal, which is being financially stable. How did she manage to resolve the issues at school? And how has she found the balance to press forward again with a promise/hope to complete school, no matter how long it takes?
    Part 2: During and Post-Screening

    Think about the questions on the reflection on barriers, strengths and hope, and renewed understanding of poverty during and after viewing the film (pp. 9-10).


    Juan Salgado, Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago

    Watch "Talent Not to Be Missed"

    Juan Salgado explores an often-overlooked pathway out of poverty: community colleges and their unique position to meet people “where they are.” Investing in talented and determined community college students is key to rebuilding the economy and social fabric of a post-pandemic Chicago.

    • What does Juan Salgado see as the solution to poverty?
    • How does Juan Salgado’s view of poverty/definition of poverty connect with the ideas that he provides for alleviating poverty?
    • How do these ideas support Dominetrius’s ability to leverage her strengths and the resources necessary to confront the barriers and overcome them with hope and by setting goals?
    Part 3: Synthesis and Action

    Think about the questions on resource activation, targeting and recruitment, and dissemination (pp. 10).

    Gary Ladehoff

    Gary Ladehoff

    Key Themes: Child Custody, Stable Employment, Hope

    Watch Gary’s Story

    Gary Ladehoff is one stroke of good luck away from making it out of poverty, and one stroke of bad luck away from losing everything. He has been living with his two-year-old daughter in the economically depressed city of Zion, Illinois. This is a critical moment for Gary: a new job, car, and apartment fall into his lap, while a workplace accident threatens to set him back. Gary’s past struggles with addiction and the criminal justice system have led to previous setbacks. But now he’s getting help from an unlikely source: a police officer who once put Gary behind bars.

    Part 1: Pre-Screening

    Think about the questions on the understanding, significance, and relevance/proximity of poverty before viewing the film (pp. 8-9).

    Discussion Questions

    Part I
    1. What kind of job does Gary have? What are the working conditions like in his job? How does Gary feel about his job? What does he say his daughter might think about the kind of job he does?
    2. How does Gary feel when comparing himself to other fathers with children at his age?
    3. Gary makes $10 an hour and works a 6-hour shift, 5 days a week, earning $300 a week. What are some of the essentials that Gary must cover from his paycheck?
    4. How does Gary feel about his 2½-year-old daughter Miabella? How is she a motivation for him?
    5. How is it helpful to have his friend Matt watch his daughter while he goes to work?
    6. How does not having a car become a barrier for Gary physically and emotionally? How would having a car help him? How does he get around without a car?
    7. How does Gary feel when he almost gets a car, but doesn’t have the necessary $500 down payment? How does Gary handle constantly playing catch-up, only to find out that he cannot succeed?
    8. Zion, Illinois is described as a place that does not have many jobs. What can Gary do to find better opportunities when there are not enough jobs in the community?
    9. Gary uses the word miserable multiple times, in describing his kitchen job and when he describes his feelings about living in the basement. How does he manage the stress of living below his expectations?
    10. How does Gary handle being a single father? Would you be able to support a child as a single parent under the same conditions?
      1. How does Gary find motivation in the goal of getting Miabella far away from the poverty environment that he grew up in?
    11. What are Gary’s career aspirations? What skills and training does he have? How convinced is he that he will get there?
    12. How does society typically view his past heroin addiction and 16 burglary arrests? How helpful is it that he has people such as Matt Thornton from My Father’s Business (MFB) rooting for him when he came home from prison?
      1. How does Matt empathize when Gary shares that it is still a struggle for him after trying to turn around his life from his earlier days?
      2. Drugs, violence, and gangs were part of Gary’s childhood growing up without his father and without a strong male figure in his life. What pushed him into it and what helped him get out of the situation?
      3. How does Matt share the message of love against the hate in this world to a group of young men through his MFB program? How does he make the story about himself but have an effect on these men to get their full attention? How does he create a culture of support through prayers?
    13. How does the situation with Mia’s mother create additional stress for Gary? How does he maintain calm and focus?
    Part II
    1. How deflated is Gary when he hurts his hand on the third day of his new job as a forklift driver?
    2. With the pain and inconvenience of having a cast on, how does he manage things at home and take care of Mia before he can return to his new job?
      1. How does Gary manage the added stress when Mia’s mother fails to comply with the custody schedule and take Mia two days a week?
      2. Drinking was a way that he could numb himself from the inner pain. How does he manage not to spiral into drinking all day and losing control of his life?
      3. How determined is he to support Mia to break away from poverty?
    3. How does shutting down a nuclear power plant affect a city like Zion?
    4. How does the goal of preventing his daughter from being affected by his past mistakes help keep him on the path forward?
    5. What does Gary feel to see his old friend Eddie and his mother?
      1. How is he reminded of how important it is to stay clean and break away from his old ways of addiction and violence?
    Part III
    1. After suffering an injury and not having any income, how does Gary support himself?
      1. With his increased drinking, how is he able to find a place to stay after having to leave his basement home?
      2. How does it make a difference to have a personal support system such as Mike and Dee to fall back on in emergency situations?
    2. What makes the biggest difference in enabling Gary to find his next stable job at the asphalt company?
    3. How does he describe his old job and the situation of not having a job in contrast to the current job that makes him feel more valuable?
      1. What does he experience with his credit card that makes him feel discouraged as a parent?
      2. How does he handle the frustration?
      3. What does it feel like not to have “the means to do stuff when you want to or when you need to”?
    4. How helpful was Dee and Mike’s support when Gary almost gave up on life?
    5. What is his hope for Mia’s future:
      1. As it relates to her sense of pride and self-esteem?
      2. As it relates to getting an education, staying in school, and trying everything before she finds whatever she loves to do?
    6. What is his hope for his future? What is his view of material things, e.g., a nice car and house?
    7. What is Gary’s strategy as he looks forward and takes small steps? How is it possible now for him to have hope for the future by taking these small steps? What small steps does he mention?
    Part 2: During and Post-Screening

    Think about the questions on the reflection on barriers, strengths and hope, and renewed understanding of poverty during and after viewing the film (pp. 9-10).


    Mark Jay, PhD, Sociologist, University of California, Santa Barbara

    Watch "Policing the Poor"

    Mark Jay examines how mass incarceration and police violence overwhelmingly target poor people, regardless of race. Instead of treating poverty as a crime problem, reinvestment in social welfare programs would treat the root causes of poverty.

    • What does Mark Jay see as the solution to poverty?
    • How does Mark Jay’s view of poverty/definition of poverty connect with the ideas that he provides for alleviating poverty?
    • How do these ideas support Gary’s ability to leverage his strengths and the resources necessary to confront the barriers and overcome them with hope and by setting goals?
    Part 3: Synthesis and Action

    Think about the questions on resource activation, targeting and recruitment, and dissemination (pp. 10).

    Patricia Jackson

    Key Themes: Father Figure, Spirituality, Hope

    Watch Patricia’s Story

    Patricia Jackson, her husband, and their children live in her mother’s basement in the Roseland neighborhood on the South Side. The family’s only source of steady income was Patricia’s low-wage job at a WIC grocery, until the coronavirus pandemic forced her be home with the children. Now a remarkable opportunity has landed on Patricia’s doorstep: The Family Independence Initiative, a nonprofit organization, has offered her financial assistance with no strings attached. In the short term, these cash infusions will allow the family to keep their heads above water. Looking to the future, Patricia and her husband hope to get an exciting new business off the ground.

    Part 1: Pre-Screening

    Think about the questions on the understanding, significance, and relevance/proximity of poverty before viewing the film (pp. 8-9).

    Discussion Questions

    Part I
    1. What are Patricia’s memories of growing up in the Roseland home that her parents bought in the 1990s?
      1. How did her family maintain their home as a place of gathering and fun in the neighborhood?
      2. What was her recollection of the culture of sharing?
      3. How does she feel about having grown up in a house filled with love?
    2. What was the role of her father in her life? In her family’s life? In the community?
      1. How important is a strong father figure for a child?
      2. How much impact did her father’s lessons have on Patricia, especially when he said, “You love yourself. You don’t need anyone else to love. You love you first… No dream is too big. Dream so big so that only God can help you with your dream. And don’t take no for an answer… Family is first… Cherish and take care of them”?
    3. Does she see herself as having grown up in poverty? She says that she didn’t have everything, but her father made sure to take care of her and her siblings.
    4. Patricia says family and God were the source of strength that got her parents through adversity. How much importance does she place on family and God?
    5. What was Patricia’s mother’s dream? How does this translate to Patricia’s dream?
    6. Why is Patricia’s family living in her mother’s basement? How did she plan to fulfill her dream of owning a home?
    7. Patricia’s mother shares that she never had any emergency money. When the tree fell and damaged the fence and the garage, she did not have the financial resources to take care of it. Why didn’t she have to resort to a partial payment plan to repair the damage?
    8. What is Family Independence Initiative (FII)? How are the funds distributed? Under what conditions do families receive money? What barriers to accessing financial resources does FII address? How is FII’s approach different than traditional financial support programs?
    9. What were the goals that Patricia wanted to use the FII funds towards? Patricia says, “We’ve been told no so many times… We’ve been told we’re not good enough as far as credit or income… After hearing that so many times… you give up on your goals, you give up on your dreams… All I want to do is to get a little wiggle room to do what I really want to do.” What is FII doing for her family? How do the FII funds affect the family when Patricia’s husband loses his job?
    10. What does Patricia love about her job at the WIC grocery? How does she relate with her customers? How does her experience of having received WIC give her purpose in supporting other mothers who need of help?
    11. How does Patricia not see her husband losing his job as a financial crisis? What is the role of spirituality or a relationship with God in her life? How is church a community resource for Patricia? What does church mean to her personally?
    12. How is non-judgmental, unconditional hope important when someone says, “You failed, but it is OK. Get back up”? How is Patricia confident that God will provide the resources? She states, “God knows that you need money to live … He is going to make sure to provide you with the money that you need. And if you believe that God is going to do what He said He is going do, He’s going to do it … It depends on you to tap into what it is that is already in you.” How does this faith and conviction play out in her overcoming unbearable situations?
    Part II
    1. How did the pandemic affect her children? How did Patricia have to adjust to the situation while trying to make ends meet? How does prayer help her cope with the extremely difficult situation?
    2. What is the new plan for Patricia’s husband Derrick? How determined is he? What are the barriers to launching this new plan?
    3. What happened when her mother’s basement flooded after Patricia’s family moved in? How did they handle the situation? How does her faith in God keep her holding on to her dream and the path that she and her husband were on?
    4. How did they get the new truck? What was the disciplined savings approach that got them the full purchase price? How will the truck make a difference in their lives?
    Part III
    1. How did Derrick’s business do after purchasing the new truck? What made the difference? How did he financially manage the savings that he was seeing in his business operation?
    2. What is Derrick’s customer service/relationship with his customers like?
    3. What is the big dream for Patricia and Derrick? For the business? For the new home? How do these dreams keep them going?
    4. How do they continue to look to Patricia’s father for inspiration? What does her father mean to so many people at church? How has his loving and giving spirit created the community and social capital needed for support? How does living out his legacy motivate Patricia?
    5. How does it feel for Patricia to find an apartment in Indiana as the next step to her reaching her ultimate goal?
    6. What does Patricia mean when she says she can smile again?
    7. How are your thoughts about Patricia’s final message that “It’s nothing too hard. It’s nothing that you can’t do. It’s nothing you can’t be. I don’t care what you went through, what trials and tribulations. As long as God gives you the ability and a breath in your body, you have another chance to get up and get it right. Even if you feel like the world is against you and you’ve done nothing wrong, the only thing you can do is to learn from it and grow from it.”
    Part 2: During and Post-Screening

    Think about the questions on the reflection on barriers, strengths and hope, and renewed understanding of poverty during and after viewing the film (pp. 9-10).


    Ebony Scott, Partnership Director, Family Independence Initiative

    Watch "Defund the War on Poverty"

    Ebony Scott demonstrates how flexible, customized solutions that give families the cash they need and support in building and strengthening their social networks enable them to move out of poverty permanently.

    • What does Ebony Scott see as the solution to poverty?
    • How does Ebony Scott’s view of poverty/definition of poverty connect with the ideas that she provides for alleviating poverty?
    • How do these ideas support Patricia’s ability to leverage her strengths and the resources necessary to confront the barriers and overcome them with hope and by setting goals?
    Part 3: Synthesis and Action

    Think about the questions on resource activation, targeting and recruitment, and dissemination (pp. 10).

    Andino Medina

    Andino Medina

    Key Themes: Drugs, Incarceration, Second Chance, Employment, Custody, DCFS, Purpose, Family

    Watch Andino’s Story

    Andino Medina is determined to regain custody of his two-year-old daughter Eva. But first he will need to contend with the criminal justice system and DCFS. Born in the Marquette Park neighborhood to a close-knit, hard-working family, Andino’s lifelong struggles with addiction led to a cycle of crime and incarceration. During his most recent stay in jail, Andino’s girlfriend gave birth to Eva, who has given him a renewed sense of purpose. In order to get her back, he’ll need to pay off a mountain of court fees and find the affordable, stable housing that DCFS requires. But he has a fighting chance, thanks to a social service agency and an exciting new job.

    Part 1: Pre-Screening

    Think about the questions on the understanding, significance, and relevance/proximity of poverty before viewing the film (pp. 8-9).

    Discussion Questions

    Part I
    1. Is poverty about not having enough money for such things as an apartment, transportation, a car, and a license?
    2. What is it like to start all over to rebuild a life due to significant life circumstances? How overwhelming is it having to manage all the different things that one needs to get by every day?
    3. What is Andino’s hope and prayer? What does it mean for Andino to live his life and go forward?
    4. What stands out as the most difficult situation for Andino as he starts his life over after coming back from prison? How do these obstacles get in the way of his goal to move forward? Does being on probation and having legal challenges add to the daily stress and being overwhelmed?
    5. How would it feel to know that you would not be able to make your appointed court time and that you would be late by at least one hour because it took 3 hours to travel on public transportation?
    6. How does Andino handle such stressors as he is being acclimated into new roles and responsibilities in life?
    7. How is Andino’s childhood similar or dissimilar to yours? How do the neighborhood one grows up in and the peers/friends one finds affect the chances of experiencing poverty? Or does one’s poor decisions lead to other wrong decisions that exacerbate the chances of living in poverty?
    8. Is a high school education enough to get a good-paying job?
    9. How do unaddressed grief and trauma contribute to barriers and life choices?
    10. How did relying on drugs become the only mode of comfort that Andino could find during his time of loss and lack of clear direction in life? Could there have been any other alternatives? What resources could have helped him avoid a life of drugs and crime?
    Part II
    1. How does Andino feel about his daughter Eva? What is the custody situation? How does DCFS support or impede his moving forward with life?
    2. What is a minimum wage job? Does it pay enough to get by? Or is this another term for a poverty job? What would be considered an adequately paying, sustainable job? Can Andino qualify to get such a job that could help him move forward in life? Is Crazy Clean a job that will help Andino get there?
    3. What additional financial burden does Andino have to cover with each paycheck? Does he need financial planning support to be able to handle these expenses? How does the Cara staff help Andino? What support does he need from Cabrini Green Legal Aid?
    Part III
    1. What was Andino’s promise to himself when he was in jail? How did he say he was going to change? How committed is he to revising his ways of thinking, acting, and reacting and becoming the different man he wants to be so he can live with integrity?
    2. What is the weekly check-in like with DCFS?
    3. What is his initial reaction to the parenting class?
      1. How anxious was Angela? How does she warm up to this process as she is validated and finds that she can trust herself to give this a try again?
    4. How does Andino do in his elevator pitch on Crazy Clean as a social equity company?
    5. What does it feel like to have a Crazy Clean business card and the title of Germ Genius? How does he feel that there is plenty of room for growth at this company? What can companies do to provide these types of growth opportunities? How does having an equity share in the company benefit him and his family?
    6. How would you assess Andino’s statement, “I like what I do at work. I want to stick around”?
    7. How does Andino feel about the possibility of not having to check-in with DCFS for two years? What does it mean for Andino to be together as family?
    8. What is the source of motivation for Andino? What is the source of his strength? How does his commitment to being there for his daughter help him hold on to the hope of bringing his family together?
    Part 2: During and Post-Screening

    Think about the questions on the reflection on barriers, strengths and hope, and renewed understanding of poverty during and after viewing the film (pp. 9-10).


    Calvin Holmes, President, Chicago Community Loan Fund

    Money with Attitude

    Calvin Holmes explains how the cycle of poverty can be broken with long-term investment that’s looking not for the highest financial return, but for achieving the greatest social impact and most options for families to grow their wealth.

    • What does Calvin Holmes see as the solution to poverty?
    • How does Calvin Holmes’s view of poverty/definition of poverty connect with the ideas that he provides for alleviating poverty?
    • How do these ideas support Andino’s ability to leverage his strengths and the resources necessary to confront the barriers and overcome them with hope and by setting goals?
    Part 3: Synthesis and Action

    Think about the questions on resource activation, targeting and recruitment, and dissemination (pp. 10).


    Overall Synthesis What are some common themes that you find in all 5 stories?

    • Common barriers? Unique barriers?
    • Common strengths and resources? Unique strengths and resources?
    • Common hopes and goals? Unique hopes and goals?

    The process of psychological self-sufficiency — replacing the barriers to hope with the strengths from internal and external resources — is found commonly among these individuals.20

    General Action

    What are some actions that you would like to take to address the following?

    • Reduce structural/organizational/personal barriers
    • Provide support to activate the strengths with access to needed resources
    • Support the vision for and commitment to hope and goal setting that will help a person move forward


    Community Resources

    A Better Chicago


    Center for Research on Self-Sufficiency (CROSS) Centers for New Horizons

    Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention

    Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition

    Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

    Chicago Commons

    Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership

    Chicago Jobs Council

    Chicago Urban League Children’s Home & Aid

    City Colleges of Chicago

    Community Renewal Society

    Family Focus

    Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities

    Great Cities Institute at UIC

    Greater Chicago Food Depository

    Greater West Town Community Development Project

    Heartland Human Care Services

    Illinois Action for Children Inspiration Corporation

    Instituto del Progreso Latino

    Metropolitan Family Services

    Near West Side Community Development Corporation

    Prairie State College

    Shriver Center on Poverty Law

    South Suburban College

    UChicago Urban Labs

    Research Reports and Data Resources

    Source: City of Chicago/Family & Support Services


    Chicago Jobs Council’s WIRE (Workforce Information and Resource Exchange)

    City of Chicago Data Portal

    Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center

    Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty

    Illinois Partners for Human Service

    Thrive Chicago


    Brookings Institution

    Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

    Kids Count Data Center of the Annie E. Casey Foundation

    National Alliance to End Homelessness

    National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a)

    National Center for Children in Poverty

    National Head Start Association

    National League of Cities

    National Network to End Domestic Violence

    National Skills Coalition

    Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan

    Shriver Center on Poverty Law

    The National Community Action Foundation

    The United States Conference of Mayors

    Urban Institute

    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Federal Poverty Guidelines

    Articles & Reports

    ABC Television (2020)
    “‘Our America: Living While Black’ addresses poverty, violence”

    Business Insider (2020)
    “Millions of Americans have fallen into poverty since federal financial relief ended, according to 2 recent studies”

    The Chicago Community Trust (2016)
    “How Place Matters for Chicagoans’ Economic Mobility”

    Chicago Tribune (2017)
    “Growing up with poverty and violence: A North Lawndale teen’s story”

    Heartland Alliance (2020)
    Heartland Alliance 2020 Poverty Report

    Heartland Alliance Social Impact Research Center (2020)
    “Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in Illinois”

    UChicago Urban Labs — Poverty Lab (2020)
    “The Impact of COVID-19 on American Households: Insights from a Longitudinal Study”

    UChicago Urban Labs — Poverty Lab (2019)
    “Increasing Academic Progress among Low-Income Community College Students: Early Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial”

    UChicago Urban Labs — Poverty Lab (2020)
    “Social and Economic Impacts of COVID-19”

    UChicago Urban Labs — Poverty Lab (2020)
    “Week 5 and 6: Labor Market Impacts of COVID-19 on Businesses: Update with Homebase Data through May 9”

    UChicago Urban Labs — Poverty Lab (2020)
    “Where COVID-19 Testing Lags Community Need in Illinois”

    Urban Institute (2016)
    “How Place Matters”


    ABC Television (2020)
    Our America: Living While Black

    The Chicago Reporter (2020)
    “Is Lightfoot’s war on poverty too late to stop Chicago’s black exodus?”

    City Club of Chicago (2020)
    Chicago Mayor Lightfoot Launces Fight on Chicago Poverty

    City Club of Chicago (2020)
    Jens Ludwig, UChicago Crime Lab
    “Crime and Poverty in Chicago”

    Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division (2017)
    “What is a Poverty Simulation?”

    The New School (2017)
    “Tale of Two Cities: Public Housing and Family Poverty in New York and Chicago”

    The Red Line Project (2019)

    D’Angelo Banda and Diego Perez
    “Pilsen Gentrification: For Better or Worse?”

    Schodorf Media Creative (2006)
    “Poverty in Chicago”

    TED: Ideas Worth Spreading (2011)
    Richard Wilkinson, author and public health researcher
    “How economic inequality harms societies”

    TED: Ideas Worth Spreading (2020)
    Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, Rashad Robinson, Dr. Bernice King, Anthony D. Romero
    “The path to ending systemic racism in the US”

    TED: Ideas Worth Spreading (2017)
    Rutger Bregman, historian
    “Poverty isn’t a lack of character; it’s a lack of cash”

    TED: Ideas Worth Spreading (2010)
    Jessica Jackley, microlender and co-founder of
    “Poverty, money — and love”

    TED: Ideas Worth Spreading (2015)
    Mia Birdsong, family activist
    “The story we tell about poverty isn’t true”

    TED: Ideas Worth Spreading (2016) Kimberlé Crenshaw, civil rights activist
    “The urgency of intersectionality”

    TED: Ideas Worth Spreading (2012) Bryan Stevenson, public interest lawyer
    “We Need To Talk About An Injustice”

    TEDx Chicago (2018)
    David Ansell, MD
    “How Inequality Kills”

    TEDx Grand Boulevard (2020)
    TIP Talks: Wisdom for Humanship (2018)
    “Transforming Impossible into Possible (TIP®) Institute”

    WTTW, Chicago Tonight (2020)
    “Summit at UIC Aims to Make Progress on Poverty”

    WTTW, FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty (2021)
    Audra Wilson, President and CEO of Shriver Center on Poverty Law
    “Unbuckling the Bootstraps Narrative”

    WTTW, FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty (2021)
    Juan Salgado, Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago
    “Talent Not to Be Missed”

    WTTW, FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty (2021)
    Mark Jay, PhD, Sociologist, University of California, Santa Barbara
    “Policing the Poor”

    WTTW, FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty (2021)
    Ebony Scott, Partnership Director, Family Independence Initiative
    “Defund the War on Poverty”

    WTTW, FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty (2021) Calvin Holmes, President, Chicago Community Loan Fund
    “Money with Attitude”


    Freakonomics Radio (2013)
    Episode 146: “Fighting Poverty with Actual Evidence”

    Indivisible Chicago (2019)
    Episode 116: “Jeremy Rosen, Shriver Center on Poverty Law”

    inSocialWork® (2018)
    Episode 253: “Dr. Philip Hong: Support, Employment Hope, and Economic Self-Sufficiency among Low-Income Jobseekers”

    Institute for Research on Poverty (2016)
    “Why Is Violence So Persistent in Some Areas of Chicago?”

    Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) North America
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

    • Episode 1: “Setting the Stage”
    • Episode 2: “Ensure Zip Code is Not Destiny”
    • Episode 3: “Transform Data Use”
    • Episode 4: “Provide Support That Empowers”
    • Episode 5: “Create Access to Good Jobs”
    • Episode 6: “Change the Narrative”

    “J-PAL Voices: The Impact and Promise of Summer Jobs in the United States”

    Poverty Research & Policy (2020)
    “Sarah Halpern-Meekin on ‘Social Poverty’”

    System Check with Melissa Harris-Perry and Dorian Warren (2020)
    Episode 4: “Why Are People Poor?”

    The University of Chicago Becker Friedman Institute (2020)
    Episode 13: “Stopping an Avalanche of Poverty”

    WBEZ 91.5 Chicago (2017)
    “The View from Room 205: Can schools make the American Dream real for poor kids?”


      Most facts were pulled from The Trace, an independent and nonpartisan news organization focused on gun violence in America. Please see the following link for more information:
    3. hidden-costs-push-price-citys-gun-violence-billions
    5. National Institute for Mental Health, May 2019.
    6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2019
    7. Ginwright, Shawn, 2018.