Our Latest Statements

Creating Opportunity for Youth Employment: The Creating Pathways for Youth Employment and HERO Acts

5/23/2019 —There is no one solution to addressing violence. We believe that connecting individuals to opportunity and supports has the potential to save lives now, and to create greater opportunity and safety over the long term for those people and communities that are most highly impacted by violence.

This is why we’re excited to support two critical pieces of legislation introduced by Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth (IL) and Representative Robin Kelly (IL-2) this week. The Creating Pathways for Youth Employment Act and the Helping to Encourage Real Opportunities (HERO) for At-Risk Youth Act.

This federal legislation advances access to opportunity in important ways:

  • The Creating Pathways for Youth Employment Act provides federal resources for communities to plan, develop, and expand summer and year-round youth transitional employment programs that serve youth who are most at risk of experiencing trauma and violence in communities. Drawing from the insights of youth employment providers across the country and Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago program, the bill includes a focus on incorporating therapeutic approaches such as trauma-informed care and cognitive behavioral therapy alongside mentorship programs and other supports. The legislation would establish a five-year, $1.5 billion competitive grant program for youth summer employment and a five-year, $2 billion competitive grant program for youth year-round employment
  • The HERO for At-Risk Youth Act expands tax credits to businesses that hire, train, and retain youth living in communities with high rates of poverty.

More information about the legislation can be found here.

In 2017, 4.5 million low-income 16 to 24 year-olds in the United States were both out of school and out of work.  This issue affects communities nationwide – in rural areas, 19.3 percent of youth were out of school and unemployed in 2017.  For youth of color, joblessness is especially chronic and concentrated: 17.9 percent of Black youth and 13.2 percent of Hispanic youth between the ages of 16-24 were out of school and out of work nationally in 2017. These youth face significant barriers to employment including discrimination, childhood poverty, homelessness, and involvement in the justice and foster care systems.

“Through our work at READI Chicago, we have seen first-hand that investment in youth works. When we invest our dollars in creating opportunities for employment, addressing mental health, and giving true access to upward mobility, we are building solutions to the epidemic of community violence. This legislation will create real chances for youth and it tells them, and their communities, that we are invested in their healing and in their future.” Eddie Bocanegra, Senior Director of Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago.

What’s more, in urban, suburban, and rural communities across the country, youth who live in neighborhoods with highly concentrated poverty and unemployment are more likely to become victims of or engage in violent crime. Expanding access to employment and economic opportunity is critical both to ensuring that these young people are on track to long-term success and to disrupting cycles of violence and trauma in communities nationwide.

“Experiences of violence and trauma can and do perpetuate poverty and inequity, profoundly impact our kids, and hurt communities. To turn the tide it will take compassion, investment in these kinds of bold programs, and local, state, and federal policy reforms. We’re pleased to support this legislation as we continue to work alongside communities to heal from the impacts of violence and trauma.” Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity


Tell Your Senators to VOTE NO to a Tax Plan that Hurts Low and Middle Income Americans!

Earlier this month the House passed their version of a tax overhaul bill which, if enacted, would benefit corporations and those who make the most at the expense of programs and services that benefit low and middle-income people. Yesterday, the Senate cleared a procedural hurdle that will bring this bill to a vote as early as later this week.
Fair tax and revenue structures are critical for supporting investments in programs that address poverty and inequity and promote opportunity. These are moral decisions with human consequences. This tax plan, however, all but guarantees that vital programs and services—like Medicaid, nutrition assistance, and education—will be cut. Each day Heartland Alliance sees the extraordinary importance of these programs in the lives of people experiencing poverty and inequity.

We need to speak out NOW and urge our Senators to oppose this ill-conceived tax plan. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and demand that your Senators oppose this bill and any bill that balloons the deficit, attacks the Affordable Care Act, and makes low and middle-income individuals pay for tax cuts for wealthy corporations and those that have the
These tax bills take us backwards in the fight to address poverty and inequity. Together, they would:

• Increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion or more, foreshadowing deep cuts to anti-poverty programs – perhaps even as early as next year.
• Increase the uninsured by 13 million, increasing average premiums by over $1,000, and create more instability in the health insurance market by repealing the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act.
• Permanently increase taxes for middle-class and other households in the years to come in order to pay for tax breaks for wealthy corporations and others who have the most.
This plan does not pave a path of safety, stability and opportunity for America.Stripping resources from low and middle income Americans to benefit the wealthiest among us will drive inequity and increase hardship. We must stand against this tax plan.

Please, call your Senators TODAY at 202-224-3121 and urge them to oppose the tax plan and demand that they fight to protect the programs and services that keep our communities strong!

This Tax Plan Does Not Pave a Path of Safety, Stability and Opportunity

 11/3/2017 — Yesterday, Congressional House Republicans unveiled a sweeping $1.51 trillion bill that rewrites the tax code, The Tax Cut and Jobs Act. By all measures, the bill benefits the wealthiest individuals in our nation at the expense of critical programs and services that benefit low and middle-income people. Each day we see the extraordinary importance of these programs in the lives of the people Heartland Alliance, and our partners, serve.

Fair tax and revenue structures are critical for supporting investments in programs that address poverty and inequity and promote opportunity.These are moral decisions with human consequences. Yet, this tax plan signals that this administration does not value supporting the needs of low to middle-income people by all but guaranteeing that vital programs and services — like Medicaid and education will be cut — while prioritizing tax cuts the wealthiest in the country.

This plan does not pave a path of safety, stability and opportunity for America. We will continue to uphold the needs and rights of middle and low-income people and fight against plans like this that erode vital programs.

Learn more and take action.
Contact us with questions.

We Stand with Dreamers and will Defend DACA

9/8/2017 —The Trump Administration announced its plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Though this announcement was expected, we are nonetheless outraged and continue to stand unified and in strong support of our affected colleagues, participants, and community members. Please see below for more on this issue from Heartland Alliance’s President, Evelyn Diaz.

“Heartland Alliance believes society is better for everyone when all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. We stand with the 800,000 young adults who may lose their protections due to President Trump’s decision. Because of DACA, individuals were able to remain in their homes, support their families, complete their education, launch careers, and live without fear that they may suddenly be exiled. Allowing these young people to work, get a higher education, and contribute to their communities has benefitted society.

Even more painful than the economic loss, stripping away these protections dismantles the social bonds and connections that have made our entire society stronger. Young people who were once unafraid of deportation must now think twice before contacting authorities, engaging with government services, or trusting law enforcement.

Heartland Alliance serves DACA recipients every single day. We partner with them as they pursue their educational, work, housing, and other life goals. We know who these young people are and just how integral they are to our community — and we will not give up on them. We will continue to fight for immigrant families and refugees– and we will work with legislative officials and our advocate partners to find a permanent solution and create a roadmap to citizenship.

For more information about the loss of DACA protections and the services provided by Heartland Alliance and NIJC, please click here. Additionally, please support efforts to encourage Congress to defend DACA and all immigrant communities by passing legislation that protects recipients and respects the rights of all undocumented immigrants.”

6 Things We’re Watching Out of Trump’s “Skinny Budget”

3/16/2017 —The Trump Administration submitted its FY18 budget blueprint to Congress this week – his “skinny budget.” The plan proposes historic cuts and outright eliminates a range of programs and services serving low-income Americans and families – all of which are critical to ensuring safety, stability, and creating pathways to employment and economic opportunity for Americans who are chronically unemployed.

Here are six programs, services, and agencies on our radar that are slated for total elimination through the Administration’s “skinny budget.” As Congress debates FY18 funding priorities we hope you’ll stand with us to defend these and other vital efforts serving low-income Americans.

#1: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). CDBG programs fund vital community economic development and infrastructure initiatives across the country while connecting low-income individuals to work. For example, CDBG programs help fund transitional jobs programs in Milwaukee through the office of public works and employment pathways into transportation apprenticeships in Chicago. Eliminating CDBG is in direct conflict with the Administration’s interest in re-building America and its calls for infrastructure investment.

#2: Choice Neighborhoods. The Choice Neighborhoods program supports locally driven strategies to address struggling neighborhoods through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. Made up of local leaders, residents, and other stakeholders these groups come together to create and implement a plan that transforms distressed housing and addresses challenges in surrounding neighborhoods – including enhancing community safety. Given this Administration’s drumbeat around improving public safety and reducing violence, eliminating this program is particularly short-sighted.

#3: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). Coupled with the proposed budget cuts of $6.2 billion to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the elimination of the USICH as an interagency coordinating body, amounts to nothing short of what advocates have called a “homelessness plan.” Budget proposals like this are in direct conflict with this Administration’s campaign promises to ensure that people do not “die on the sidewalks and streets.”

#4: Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). The only federal program of its kind, SCSEP creates economic opportunity for individuals 55 or older living in poverty and contributes to the well-being of communities nationwide. Priority is given to veterans and their spouses as well as individuals who have a disability, have low literacy skills or limited English proficiency, reside in a rural area, and are homeless or at risk of homelessness or have low employment prospects. Two-thirds of the low-income older Americans participating in SCSEP are women and almost half are from racial or ethnic minorities. Coupled with the proposed draconian cuts to the Department of Labor—$2.5 billion in cuts or about 21 percent below current funding levels—it’s hard to see how this Administration is serious about supporting pathways to work for all Americans.

#5: Corporation for National and Community Service. Among other things, the Corporation for National and Community Service supports the Social Innovation Fund program, a pay for performance project that has spurred the development and sophistication of evidence-based solutions. One of them being the expansion of social enterprise programs to support pathways into employment for individuals with employment barriers across the country while creating jobs and positively impacting businesses.

#6: 21st Century Community Learning programs. At a time when many communities are looking for school-based solutions to support young people—particularly young people of color—the Administration’s “skinny budget” calls for the elimination of 21st Century Community Learning programs which are aimed at providing before and after school programs for youth especially those living in high-poverty communities. As our recent report demonstrates, continued disinvestment from communities and on behalf of young people can lead to negative ripple effects in communities for generations.

The bottom line? Budgets are moral documents – they reflect our values and priorities as a society. The Trump Administration’s “skinny budget” has some serious failings as it relates to ensuring equity and opportunity for all and does not reflect the values and priorities of millions of Americans.

Get involved. Tweet your member of Congress with this message: I/We believe the federal #budget must ensure equity and opportunity for ALL.