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Poverty Resources


Brueggemann, Walter, Prayers for a Privileged People, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2008

Dinsmore, Julia, My Name Is Child of God…Not “Those People”: A First Person Look at Poverty, Augsburg-Fortress, 2007.

This personal and provocative look at poverty in America is shaped around the author’s own engaging stories, song lyrics, and poems, including the well-known Call Me Child of God … Not Those People. The story of her growing up in a large Irish Catholic working-class family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, draws together the experiences of living in poverty, the role of the church and music in her life, and the many remarkable people who populated her life and the lives of her family.

The author describes economic hardship and social challenges as being as “regular as the turning seasons in my coming up years,” and refers to her life in poverty as the “soil of my art.” Through her stories and reflections, Julia Dinsmore puts a face on poverty and challenges readers to answer God’s call to respond to poverty and its effects.

Hayes, Christopher I., Twilight of the Elite: America After Meritocracy, Crown Publishers, N.Y., 2012

Linthicum, Robert c., Empowering the Poor, Marc, California, 1996

In the third century, Origen described the urban poor as the “rag, tag, and bobtail of humanity.”  Author Robert Linthicum says that the very future of Christianity hinges on what it does about mission among the urban poor. He presents a bold strategy for community organizing and how to build coalitions to accomplish the community’s goals. A must-read for every urban practitioner.

Madigan, Daniel and Ann Bancroft, Many Hands, Many Miracles: Building a Social Service Agency That Works, University of Notre Dame Press, Indiana, 1996

This is an important book about one of America’s most effective social justice ministries. Over 800 volunteers contribute their time to the daily operations of Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, and thousands of individuals provide support through cash and material donations. For every dollar donated to the SFBS, ten dollars worth of service is returned to the community.  Less than 7 percent of the SFBFS’s total funding comes from federal, state, and local government.

As a model for social services, Father Dan Madigan’s SFBFS deserves close attention. Since the SFBFS is virtually self-sufficient, they don’t have to fear that government cutbacks might threaten their existence. Also, the SFBFS is able to move quickly to address community needs, without the delay of government bureaucracy. As Father Dan asks in his conclusion to Many Hands, Many Miracles, “How can we ask our clients to become self-sufficient unless we model self-sufficiency ourselves?”

This inspiring book should be read by people of all faiths who are dedicated to finding successful ways to alleviate poverty, hunger, and suffering in America.

Payne, Ruby, Philip DeVol, and Terie Dreussi Smith, Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities,  Aha! Process, Inc. 2006.

Bridges Out of Poverty is a unique and powerful tool designed specifically for social, health, and legal services professionals. Based in part on Dr. Ruby K. Payne’s myth shattering A Framework for Understanding Poverty, Bridges reaches out to the millions of service providers and businesses whose daily work connects them with the lives of people in poverty.

In a highly readable format you’ll find case studies, detailed analysis, helpful charts and exercises, and specific solutions you and your organization can implement right now to: Redesign programs to better serve people you work with; Build skill sets for management to help guide employees; Upgrade training for front-line staff like receptionists, case workers, and managers; Improve treatment outcomes in health care and behavioral health care; Increase the likelihood of moving from welfare to work.

Smiley, Tavis and Cornel West, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, SmileyBooks, 2012. (

With 150 million Americans persistently poor or near poor, Smiley and West, co-hosts of Public Radio’s Smiley & West, argue that now is the time to confront the underlying
  conditions of systemic poverty in America before it’s too late.  By placing the
  eradication of poverty in the context of the nation’s greatest moments of social
 transformation—the abolition of slavery, woman’s suffrage, and the labor and civil
  rights movements—ending poverty is sure to emerge as the defining civil rights struggle
  of America’s 21st century. The authors challenge us to re-examine our assumptions
 about poverty in America—what it really is and how to eliminate it now.


The Line

From Emmy Award-winning producer Linda Midgett, The Line is a groundbreaking documentary chronicling the new face of poverty in America. As Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis puts it, “more and more of our friends are in poverty — in the pews, in our workplaces — through no fault of their own, and they are slipping below the poverty level.” This brand new film documents the lives of families and individuals experiencing poverty right now in the United States. (sponsored by Sojourners, Oxfam, World Vision, Bread for the World and Christian Community Development Association)


Brueggemann, Walter, “From Anxiety and Greed to Milk and Honey,” Sojourners magazine, Feb. 2009

Free registration required to access article In this thoughtful article, the author contrasts the current climate of autonomous, anxious greed with the biblical view of God’s generous abundance in the context of a covenantal relationship with God’s people.

Johnson, Christopher, “The Episcopal Church and Domestic Poverty Alleviation,” The Presiding Bishop’s Summit on Domestic Poverty- Faith in the Balance: A Call to Action

Shori, Katherine Jefferts, “Called to Serve: The Church’s Response to Domestic Poverty” 

Bishop Untener, “How Should We Think About Poverty” 


The National Center for Children in Poverty 

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) is the nation’s leading public policy center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America’s low-income families and children. NCCP uses research to inform policy and practice with the goal of ensuring positive outcomes for the next generation. Check out especially their Young Child Risk Calculator.

Food Research and Action Center 

Highlights news on hunger, nutrition, and poverty issues on the state and national level and reports from anti-poverty and hunger organizations.

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