A guide to implementing smart policies that support the modern family and lift men & women off the brink. Adopt it, post it, implement it, live it.
1. Be An Informed City.One in three women live on the financial brink. 70% of minimum wage jobs are held by women, and the majority of them don’t have one sick day a year. These facts and more are in The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink. We hope you will read it, cite it, implement it, and teach it. Post The Shriver Report online on your city website, and post this City-Festo in your Mayor’s office and at your City Hall. Have your city and state educational institutions join other prestigious institutions in teaching The Shriver Report. Join our classroom initiative. Informed citizens and an informed community make smarter choices.
2. Organize a screening of Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert. The film focuses on one of the 42 million women who live on the brink and the 28 million children that depend on them. Go to HBOGo or you can stream on On Demand through December 2015. We hope you’ll discuss the film and talk to women in your city like Katrina about what they need to get and stay off the brink. DVDs will be available for purchase via HBO and Amazon.com in September.
3. Promote education. The Shriver Report revealed that the vast majority of women with only a high school diploma are more likely to live on the financial brink than those with a college degree. Highlight programs in your city and community colleges that promote women receiving education beyond high school, including certificate and community college degrees. Encourage women to think of themselves as providers not as people who need to be provided for.
4. Make your city a leader. Become a worker-friendly city that focuses on closing the wage gap, raising the minimum wage, offering sick days, flextime, family leave, and child care. Join Boston and develop your own Women’s Compact. Make it your goal to close the wage gap and remove visible and invisible barriers to women’s advancement. Institute blind hiring practices that will help create gender-neutral workplaces. Mirror Seattle and push for a higher minimum wage. Be a city that puts the “care” into “career.”
5. Value Voters. Highlight the power of each person’s vote and push for 100% voter registration. Be creative in enlisting your community to make their voices heard. If your state isn’t one of the 11 states with same-day voter registration, join them. Get in line behind Illinois, Nebraska, Virginia and other states to push for online voter registration to make the process easier and more accessible for all.
6. Disrupt traditional philanthropy. Bringing people back from the brink requires an innovative approach that gets results. Embolden organizations like San Francisco’s Tipping Point, which finds and funds the most effective nonprofits educating, employing, housing and supporting low-income families. It has raised more than $80 million since 2005 with 100% going towards improving the lives of more than 365,000 people in need. The problems we’re facing cannot be solved by government alone. Recognize, celebrate, support and buoy the organizations helping to shoulder the responsibility in your city.
7. Support programs for the underserved and low-income. Partner with Shriver Corps members in expanding connection to federal programs that support men and women living on the brink. For a model you can emulate, look at LIFT’s approach to facilitating economic stability in communities, and check out WeConnect – a family-focused resource program I established as California First Lady – to find out how to aid families living on the brink.
8. Hire a person with intellectual disabilities. The unemployment rate for people with intellectual disabilities is more than twice as high as the general population. If they find work, they and their families are less likely to live on the brink. Join the Mayors of California and other elected officials and hire a person with intellectual disabilities to work full-time or part-time on your Mayoral staff or in city hall. Go to Best Buddies (bestbuddiesjobs.org) for more information.
9. Empower women entrepreneurs. Focus on finding cutting-edge ways to hire women and promote women in your community. Encourage your Chamber of Commerce to create jobs and opportunity for the financially excluded and the underserved. Join the Woman’s Nation Lending Team at Kiva to empower women to become financially independent through person-to-person microlending that will help them realize their financial dreams. When women thrive, the economy thrives.
10. Establish a model city for working families. What’s good for women is good for men. What’s good for families is good for cities. The #1 thing people said they needed in The Shriver Report were sick days. Adding to that, they need support and flextime to be able to care for a sick parent or family member. While they try to balance the demands of work, millions of families are struggling with Alzheimer’s. Have your city direct people to support groups and solutions. Read The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheiemer’s to get the facts. Go to “My Brain Matters” at ALZ.org to look for solutions. Together with AWomansNation.org your city can imagine and implement a new way forward.
Be an architect of change.
You can create a conscious, caring, compassionate culture in your city. The change starts with you. Make an impact and move your community forward.
Encourage those that work for you to do the same.