Our Process

Process & Priorities for Developing Recommendations

PRWG adopted the following priorities and process to develop recommendations for the strategic plan.

Addressing root causes AND the urgency of now. PRWG prioritized addressing the root causes of poverty in the development of the strategic plan, the data and evidence for which can be found in the Interim Progress Report. While a focus on root causes and systemic change is essential to reducing the incidence of poverty in Washington state, PRWG also recognizes there is an urgent need to provide resources to the 1.8 million children, adults, and families struggling to make ends meet today. Our recommendations, therefore, address root causes and the urgency of now.

Elevating the expertise and influence of people experiencing poverty.

As the foremost experts on their lives, PRWG placed a high priority on the perspectives of people experiencing poverty and organizations serving them in preparing recommendations. The steering committee was invaluable to the creation of recommendations and is a powerful example of how to institutionalize the practice of including people most affected by an issue at decision-making tables.

Achieving equity, especially racial equity.

The experience of poverty is not shared equally. Indigenous, Black, and Brown Washingtonians, women, families with young children, youth, rural residents, immigrants and refugees, seniors, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities have poverty rates above the state average. Reducing poverty in a way that achieves equity for each of these groups is essential for Washington state to maximize the well-being of its residents and fully realize the talent, potential, and contributions they have to offer. The strategies and recommendations contained in 10-year Plan to Reduce Poverty and Inequality target groups most affected by poverty so equity can be achieved.

Achieving equity, especially racial equity.

The experience of poverty is not shared equally. Indigenous, Black, and Brown Washingtonians, women, families with young children, youth, rural residents, immigrants and refugees, seniors, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities have poverty rates above the state average. Reducing poverty in a way that achieves equity for each of these groups is essential for Washington state to maximize the well-being of its residents and fully realize the talent, potential, and contributions they have to offer. The strategies and recommendations contained in 10-year Plan to Reduce Poverty and Inequality target groups most affected by poverty so equity can be achieved.

With poverty rates nearly double that of the state average, we cannot untangle the undue burden of poverty among Indigenous, Black, and Brown Washingtonians from the history and perpetuation of colonialism, oppression, and racism embedded throughout systems that influence the opportunities we need to succeed, such as education, employment, and housing. Indeed, throughout history policies have systematically excluded people of color from the opportunities we all need to thrive, directly affecting their disproportionate experience of poverty today. Racial discrimination also overlaps with other forms of discrimination – ageism, sexism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia, and ableism – to deepen the experience of poverty. Emphasizing race is not ignorant of the fact that poverty affects people from all backgrounds; however, Indigenous, Black, and Brown people nearly always fare worse than their white peers regardless of other demographic and geographic circumstances. By emphasizing race we tackle the most egregious roots of disproportionality, the elimination of which will allow us to make meaningful and measurable progress for all Washingtonians.

Toward this end, PRWG hired a racial equity consultant to facilitate our work and adopted the use of a racial equity toolkit – a process designed to guide, inform, and assess how policies, programs, and practices burden or benefit people of color – to ensure strategies and recommendations address the disproportionate experience of poverty among Indigenous, Black, and Brown Washingtonians with intention.

“We love our children. We work hard to get by. We are smarter than we are typically given credit for. How do you design a system without the input of the people using it and expect it to work? I think the greatest opportunity we have is to build understanding about our experiences and design a system together that is based in reality and believes we can be successful.”

~ PRWG Steering Committee  Member

Blending evidence, innovation, and collaboration.

Blending evidence, innovation, and collaboration. PRWG placed a high priority on using existing research and evidence to formulate the recommendations and, in several cases, relied on the efforts of other work groups and task forces with expertise on specific issues related to poverty. However, while there is no shortage of promising policies, programs and practices,existing evidence has thus far failed to meaningfully reduce the demographic and geographic gaps in poverty among people of color and other groups disproportionally affected. Therefore, PRWG also prioritized innovative approaches informed by groups most affected, including and especially those recommended by PRWG Steering Committee members. We believe this approach – blending strong evidence with solutions informed by people experiencing poverty – increases the likelihood that our recommendations, should they be implemented, will succeed.

Inspiring hope and building on resilience.

Current policies, programs, and practices are built on a long legacy of shaming and punishing people in poverty, instilling a sense of fear, and undermining progress. Strong and growing evidence from brain science and behavioral economics shows that children, adults, and families experiencing poverty are remarkably resilient, especially when they have a sense of hope. The recommendations contained in this plan were intentionally crafted to eliminate shame and punishment from policies, programs, and practices, and inspire a sense of hope.

Examples of Significant U.S. Policies Affecting Poverty Outcomes by Race and Ethnicity

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“If you truly believe that racial groups are equal, then you also believe that racial disparities must be the result of racial discrimination.”

~ Ibram X. Kendi

Reducing poverty and inequality is an essential investment in the collective well-being of our communities and economy.
For every $1 invested in reducing child poverty, there is a $7 return to the economy.