U.S. Programs

Report: U.S. poverty rate at highest level since 1993

For some time now, the struggling U.S. economy has dominated headlines and shaped conversation among Americans. New data released Tuesday in a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States (pdf)," paints an even starker picture of the challenges our nation faces:

  • The U.S. poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent in 2010 -- up from 14.3 percent in 2009, and to its highest level since 1993.
  • About 46.2 million people are now considered in poverty -- 2.6 million more than last year. That's nearly 1 in 6 people.
  • More Americans were living in poverty in 2010 than at any time since at least the 1950s.
  • The situation has hit black populations the hardest, with their poverty rate rising from 25.8 percent to 27.4 percent.
  • Meanwhile, child poverty rose from 20.7 percent to 22 percent.

Still in the blessing business

When I first laid eyes on Holt -- a community just outside of Tuscaloosa, Ala. -- just a few days after the April 27 tornado struck, what had once been a vibrant neighborhood now looked like a huge open field. It was a field filled with splintered wood, crumpled metal, broken glass, and shattered dreams.

Families sorted through the ruins looking for anything they could salvage.

Your role in changing our world

Imagine for a moment that you woke up tomorrow and discovered you were on a different planet in a different part of the universe without any idea of how you got there. Imagine what you would feel and the questions that would rush into your mind.

Well, I have news for you – that exact thing has happened to every one of us. Sometime in the past 100 years, we were all born on the third planet from the sun in a solar system within the Milky Way galaxy, in a universe that is incomprehensibly vast. We had no idea how we got here, all we know is that we were born into the middle of a story that started long before we arrived and will continue long after we are gone.

It’s our own mystery story -- one that began millions of years ago and one that will continue into the future.

A better tomorrow for today's children

This time of year always prompts me to reflect on our work with youth and community development. I'm reminded of two lines from the famous "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., back in 1963. Every year, I read or listen to that speech; and each time, those words come alive in my heart. At some point in my life, they became my...