Ending poverty requires more than money

Poverty is a problem that we must tackle from several different angles to be successful.

Destanie Martin-Johnson

Some people have a misconception that those who live in poverty can escape their economic status and build better lives simply by using donated money. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Yes, donated money can help poverty-stricken areas, but only when it’s used the right way. In such areas, people live day to day. They often can’t save up money or go to college to help them get a better job.

Situations like this give them no hope of a better future for themselves. Education is a way for them to see that it is possible to achieve a better future if the right steps are taken.

But without continued monetary assistance or programs that help people maintain jobs or guide local youth, many people who live in poverty fall through the cracks.

Urban Ventures, an organization in Minneapolis, focuses on building and strengthening poverty-stricken communities. The organization understands that it takes more than just checks and donations to erase poverty.

The organization offers several programs for children, adults and families. These programs include tutoring, career help and even counseling that focuses on relationship issues. In 2014, Urban Ventures placed 167 jobs and created new programs pertaining to healthy eating and parental support.

At the end of last year, I attended an annual dinner at Urban Ventures. Among the topics discussed was how one plate of healthy food can make a huge difference in a child’s life. While we enjoyed a healthy, home-cooked meal, we listened to families tell their stories of life in poverty and how Urban Ventures helped get them up on their feet.

At the end of the night, Jeff Henderson, a celebrity chef who was once incarcerated, captured our attention as he told his story of how he uprooted himself from hopelessness and aspires to help others like him.

The University of Minnesota and many other local urban areas offer community involvement programs that focus on similar issues that Urban Ventures addresses. University Extension’s Center for Community Vitality helps small businesses make smart financial decisions. It also works to strengthen social capital — the network of relationships in local communities — allowing the center to function efficiently and productively. 

I believe that education is a huge factor in determining a person’s economic status. It’s crucial that we don’t overlook the impact education has on health, relationship quality and real-world success. When it comes to lifting people out of poverty, education and continued support is equally as important, or even more important, than simply donating money.