Austin American-Statesman January Article: Poverty

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2014 has brought us a wonderful partnership with the Austin American-Statesman. Starting this past January, the Statesman is publishing monthly articles by Tom Spencer, our Executive Director, that focus on community needs, local nonprofits, and more.

Thanks to the Statesman for supporting our cause for philanthropy!

By Tom Spencer / Published January 26, 2014 in the Austin American-Statesman

Those of us who love Austin puff up a bit when our region lands on yet another top ten list. You’ll find us listed among the most “business friendly”, “fast growing”, “green”, “creative”, and of course, “rocking” cities in the nation.

However, we recently ranked number one in a category that is genuinely shocking: According to the authors of Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, Austin’s suburban poverty grew at a faster rate than any of the nation’s large metros, increasing by 142% from 2000 – 2012.

This is one top ten list that we don’t want to be on!

I raise this bad news not to burst bubbles, but to point out a widening gap that most of us simply don’t see. Poverty in Central Texas is largely a hidden phenomenon. The poor are being pushed out from central Austin into the suburbs and rural areas where they remain largely invisible.

There is one group that is acutely aware of this problem: our nonprofit service providers. Nonprofits are the ones who are stepping up to help those who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

No other advanced nation depends on the nonprofit sector as much as the United States. As a result, our nonprofits face enormous challenges. However, the good news is that there is incredible passion and creativity in our nonprofit community. I suspect that Austin may soon be on top ten lists for social entrepreneurship and nonprofit sector impact.

At I Live Here, I Give Here we try to foster both pride in our hometown and awareness of its needs. We believe in the tremendous power that is unleashed when individual donors and volunteers connect their personal passions with the great work being performed by local nonprofits.

You have a critical role to play! When we give together, we all grow stronger!

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