A regional “End Child Poverty” campaign will be launched at a 10 a.m. meeting on Thursday (Dec. 14) in the library at DeLong Middle School, 2000 Vine St. in Eau Claire.
The campaign will be spearheaded by the Chippewa Valley JONAH group. Members of the community are invited to the kickoff presentation.
John Wagner, who retired last June from the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) faculty, will introduce the regional campaign at Thursday’s meeting. He will spend about half an hour discussing information about child poverty, including state and local statistics.
Wagner, who taught Nanoscience and Engineering Technology at CVTC for 10 years, has long had a deep interest in the causes and consequences off poverty. He describes himself as being deeply interested in science and religion, the scientific basis of poverty and how poverty – through adverse childhood experiences – influences adult outcomes.
He has a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry and spent 29 years working in government labs and industry, including Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Eastman Kodak, Cray and Union Semiconductor Corp.
The regional campaign follows a recent statewide study of poverty conducted by a coalition of concerned faith and policy groups. It found that children in Wisconsin now have the highest rate of poverty of any state age group and that the situation is getting worse in every region.
Earlier, the Wisconsin Council of Churches, WISDOM, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, and Kids Forward (formerly Wisconsin Council on Children and Families) initiated a 2014 dialogue on poverty with many faith communities throughout the state. Over a thousand people were involved in this three-year quest to learn who is poor, why they’re poor, where poverty is concentrated, and if there are examples of successful ways of reducing poverty.
The evidence revealed that poverty is growing throughout the state with glaring differences by race and that the causes are related more to economic and social structures than personal failings. That information, together with a belief that community members share a responsibility toward the well-being of one another, led to the birth of the “End Child Poverty” campaign.
JONAH is a faith-based Chippewa Valley group concerned with social justice issues. It is an affiliate of the statewide WISDOM group.