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Our Children, Our Future Building on Grassroots Success

PHOTO: The Our Children, Our Future campaign says there has been mushrooming enthusiasm building towards next week's events aimed at easing West Virginia child poverty. Photo courtesy of the Our Children, Our Future campaign.
PHOTO: The Our Children, Our Future campaign says there has been mushrooming enthusiasm building towards next week's events aimed at easing West Virginia child poverty. Photo courtesy of the Our Children, Our Future campaign.
September 4, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Organizers stress next week's Our Children, Our Future campaign events at the state capitol will be much larger than last year's.

They credit real public interest and a lot of grassroots organizing.

Stephanie Tyree, director of community engagement and policy for The West Virginia Community Development HUB, a partner in the campaign, says when her organization held grassroots events around the state to look for ways to address child poverty, the response was about twice the size at events in 2013.

Tyree says lawmakers and policy leaders were part of the stronger response. But she says so was an outpouring by regular members of the community.

"There's this real feeling of mushrooming activity, both at the state level around policy in Charleston but also across the entire state at a community level," she says.

The Our Children, Our Future symposium will be Tuesday and Wednesday at the Culture Center in Charleston.

Tyree says registration is already ahead of last year's total attendance.

On Tuesday evening Our Children, Our Future will hold a candidates' forum, where members of the public can put questions to congressional and U.S. Senate candidates.

The next day families from around the state will tell their stories to the legislature's Select Committee on Children and Poverty.

Plus, Tyree says there'll be a training session that'll put ordinary folks in the House of Delegate's Chamber.

"The idea there is to get regular West Virginians in the Capitol to sit in their own delegates' seats, and to learn how this process at the state legislative level happens," she explains.

The campaign's events are designed to build up support behind 10 priorities chosen by the participants.

The group then will put those policy proposals to lawmakers during the legislative session.

Last year's priorities included raising the minimum wage, funding for the family support programs and creating a Future Fund.

Tyree says part of their momentum comes from the fact that out of the 10 issues they backed last time, they won on seven.

"The campaign is diverse, but it's also extremely successful,” she stresses. “We go after things that have an impact, and that are winnable."


Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV