What can I do to fight poverty?

First understand the breadth of the meaning of poverty. This site’s material on poverty is one source. When I lead a seminar on poverty, in the first session I lead discussions of the language of poverty and other aspects of the culture of poverty or systemic poverty, and close by noting that I have not mentioned money or income, because poverty is about so much more than lack of money.

Many people have individually created ways to fight poverty.

Melanie P. Moore in Austin leads a project to help students in upper elementary and middle school to write. Their creative writing for the year is gathered in books entitled Youth Voices in Ink with volumes released each year recently. She uses recent graduates from area universities to coach and assist students in experimenting with creative writing, working together and individually. The results are impressive.

Fifth ward arts project
Two members of the Sierra Club in Houston worked with children in the Fifth Ward in Houston to learn to use art. It was a model neighborhood during the War on Poverty. It continues to be an area in need, including a super fund site. These two adults worked with children to use photography and collage to create art work that has been shown in the Houston area and is available on line.

Leonard Pitts told about a public school art teacher who worked with a teen who was failing, who blossomed as he experimented with painting. He began to show and sell his work locally, and in his art found a new life far better than the one of earlier years.

These three examples used art to open the potential for learning in many children. Art is repeatedly shown to be an amazing tool for children to realize their creative potential, and in doing so produce amazing results. Many poverty children have discovered and unleashed their intellect and selves in music. Research has shown that we learn through words, logic, music, people, nature.  

Live it!
President Lyndon B. Johnson’s passion to fight poverty was rooted in his year of teaching Hispanic children in a poor town in South Texas, and he often referred to his many experiences in Cotulla. Similarly, many who worked in VISTA or the Peace Corps or similar religious mission programs are affected by their experiences for years afterwards — perhaps for the rest of their lives.


When I see street beggars, I offer a packet of nuts, because they are nourishing, good food. I get boxes of handy packets at CostCo. Small packages of raisins work as well. A friend makes small sandwiches she wraps in plastic wrap.