Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement Program

In a vibrant city like Charlotte, it’s easy to overlook the fact that many are suffering amid affluence. Our Civic Engagement Program increases awareness of the complex issues facing more than 100,000 neighbors living in poverty.

Even families whose income is twice the Federal Poverty Level struggle to afford safe housing, reliable transportation, child care, utilities, food, and other necessities. An unexpected event such as an illness or job loss can send an accomplished person into a downward financial spiral.

More than 100,000 of our neighbors live in poverty. 

Empowering Advocates

The Civic Engagement Program engages and empowers the community to be advocates for people facing poverty by:

  • Increasing awareness of the complex issues that make it challenging for some neighbors to make ends meet
  • Encouraging community dialogue and participation in removing barriers to financial security
  • Changing attitudes and policies that create barriers to economic mobility

The most powerful advocates are customers themselves. We provide training to highly motivated individuals interested in sharing their story and effecting positive change for others living in poverty.

Poverty Simulations

Since 2008, Crisis Assistance Ministry has been the local lead facilitator of the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS), a two-hour interactive, immersive experience designed to create awareness among participants of life at the bottom rung of the economic ladder.  The simulation presents participants with real-life scenarios and challenges faced by people living in poverty and is immediately followed by a group debrief, during which participants reflect on the experience, discuss insights, and consider next steps.

Will Medicaid Expansion Help Mecklenburg?

This long-awaited move by North Carolina will provide welcome relief to many low-wage earners who often are not offered health insurance through their employers. Considering the struggles of working families here in Mecklenburg County, there are certainly thousands who will benefit from Medicaid expansion in our own community. Based on evidence from other states, it’s likely all of us will reap the benefits of improved community health, lower eviction rates, and a stronger safety net for our neighbors.

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Hear Pulitzer Prize-winning Matthew Desmond

We are proud to partner with Davidson College to co-host Pulitzer Prize-winning author Matthew Desmond on their campus. Desmond’s thought-provoking message will help us understand the systemic issues contributing to poverty and inspire us to be part of the solution here in our own community. 

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“Poverty, By America”: New Book Asks the Hard Questions

Does poverty exist because we want it to? In his new book, “POVERTY, BY AMERICA,” Matthew Desmond asks this and other provocative questions about persistent poverty in our land of plenty.

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On Juneteenth, Equity, Equality, and Freedom

Juneteenth marks a celebration of freedom—at least in the legal sense of the word.  But it also evokes several bitter truths surrounding emancipation and its legacy. We see the ripples of that legacy here every day as we work to help our neighbors whose struggles are made more difficult by the social and systemic legacies of chattel slavery in the United States.
As we reflect on a historic moment in time, we can’t overlook the centuries of disenfranchisement that have followed legal emancipation and consider whether true freedom, equity, and equality have yet to arrive for many of our fellow citizens.

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Should NC Implement Child Tax Credits?

Back in March of 2021, as part of the American Rescue Plan, Congress expanded an important tax benefit: The Federal Child Tax Credit. The credit, originally enacted as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, was increased from $2,000 to $3,000 per child ages 6-17, and to $3,600 per child below the age of 6.  The bill also made an important change to the credit: making it fully refundable. Even if parents owed less in taxes than the credit covered, they could still receive the full refund.
The effects were remarkable.

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Black History Month: Resisting the Status Quo

The theme for Black History Month 2023 is “Resistance”, a single word that encompasses so much. Through the centuries, a long line of brave and committed Black Americans have battled injustice, some on the public stage and others behind the scenes. But for every high-profile or large-scale act of resistance, countless others go unnoticed. At Crisis Assistance Ministry, every day, we see brave and committed Black Charlotteans struggling to resist the forces of an unjust society right here in Mecklenburg County.

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Can Baby Bonds Ease the Racial Wealth Gap?

The impacts of wealth inequalities are quite evident every day at Crisis Assistance where we see people, through no fault of their own, struggling to pay rent, keep the lights on, and afford clothes for their children. In a community that is majority white, the overwhelming majority of people who seek help with basic needs here are Black and Hispanic. But the reality is that the nonprofit sector can only do so much to address the long-term struggles of the economically disenfranchised. Systemic policies have created and sustained the continued wealth gap, and it will require a systemic approach to reverse that impact.

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Transforming Unjust Systems: MLK Day 2023

Martin Luther King Day, the only federal holiday designated as a day of service, is observed on the third Monday of January, near his birth date of January 15. It is a time to not only reflect on his life and legacy but also to find ways to further his work toward racial and economic justice. Fifty-five years after his death, Dr. King’s dream has yet to come true. Although progress has been made in many areas, there is still much work to be done.

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Guaranteed Basic Income for Charlotteans?

With the winter upon us, families in Charlotte, and across the country, are struggling to make ends meet. Inflation growth has outpaced wage growth, resulting in a three percent decline in real hourly earnings. People are working harder than ever but still falling behind on rent and utilities. The amount of their past due bills is increasing but their paychecks are not. To put it simply, people need more money. But should we use policy to get more money into the hands of those who need it the most?

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