Tell Congress to Invest in Opportunity, not Cut Key Programs
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We have reviewed the budget that President Trump has proposed to Congress. Now our U.S. Representatives and Senators are preparing their version of the federal budget. They have the final power on it.
There are many cuts in the proposed budget that will decrease opportunity and increase poverty in America. This is the OPPOSITE of what our people need. Things will be even worse for our communities if Congress makes these cuts. For a few examples: it cuts PELL Grants, eliminates AmeriCorps, cuts job training programs, Medicaid, food stamps, and affordable housing. At the same time, it decreases taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Your voice is critical in ensuring that this budget is not passed as is.
So we are asking you to join us in speaking up.
Dear Representatives and Senators:
Most of us signing this petition are young adults who have endured the pain of poverty, and have worked hard to survive and succeed. Others of the signers are allies who did not personally suffer from poverty but have witnessed its terrible impact on communities and people they care about.
Millions of us were born into poverty, through no fault of our own, and every single day is a struggle to climb out and break free from its vicious cycle. We have faced hardship and are seeking a better future for ourselves and the generations behind us. We have witnessed too much suffering among our families, friends, and neighbors. Many now call us “opportunity youth” because they see our potential, not our deficits. We come from every part of America, rural and urban, big states and small. We yearn for a society where every person can fulfill his or her highest potential within a caring community.
We and our allies who have signed this petition ask that Congress protect and expand, NOT CUT, critical funding in the areas of education, job training, college scholarships, health care, national service, food stamps, and affordable housing currently available to Americans.
The Administration’s proposed budget includes many cuts that are frightening to us. For example, cutting Pell grants for college, eliminating AmeriCorps and all the national service programs through which we can serve our communities and earn scholarships at the same time, decreasing the local WIOA-funded job training programs, ending Medicaid for millions of people, cutting rental assistance, and ending the Community Development and Community Service Block Grants. These cuts, and many others, will make it even harder for millions of opportunity youth and other Americans like us to achieve any part of the American Dream.
We recognize that there are complexities and trade-offs involved. We understand that you represent us and we want to trust you in doing so. But we can see clearly that our lives and communities will be deeply and negatively affected if these and many other cuts proposed by the Administration are implemented by Congress.
We ask that Congress consider our reality. Everyone signing this petition cares about increasing opportunity and decreasing poverty for people other than ourselves. Together, we ask that Congress strengthen America as a nation of opportunity and responsibility for all.
Historically, many of our peers have thought that it would not make any difference if they voted. Poverty in our urban and rural communities persists no matter who is in office. But we ask you to show those who have seen poverty and despair that you see their potential. There are some existing opportunities that we count on; it will make matters worse if we lose them. We have therefore begun and will continue to persuade our peers that their vote matters.
We see that in addition to voting we must reach out to our elected officials directly and ask you ALL, please DO NOT make these cuts. Please DO protect and expand the education, job training, national service, health care, housing, and community development opportunities that bring some hope to our hard-pressed communities.
MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF YOUNG LEADERS:
Adam Strong (KY)
Deon Jones (CA)
Dominique Jones (CA)
Francisco Garcia (AZ)
Gilbert Bonafé (CT)
Humberto Palacios (CA)
Jamiel Alexander (PA)
Jarrett Jones (IL)
Julie Jent (KY)
Kimberly Pham (PA)
Lashon Amado (MA)
Megan Gregory (AK)
Philandrian Tree (AZ)
Ramean Clowney (PA)
Ryan Dalton (LA)
Shanice Turner (GA)
Shawnice Jackson (MD)
Tekoa Hewitt (MI)
Teresa Rivera (NY)
Timothy Gunn (SC)
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