CALL TO ACTION!
We are asking United Ways staff, volunteers, donors and corporate/community partners to call their Senators on Monday 23 January to ask that healthcare coverage for all Americans be protected.
The Affordable Care Act can be improved, but must not be repealed without a simultaneous replacement plan that:
1. Provides affordable coverage of benefits for all
2. Leaves all consumer protections in place
Working with United Way Wordwide and local United Ways across the Country, some great wins were achieved in 2015 on the Federal Level. The information below outlines what ONE VOICE can accomplish! Working together, we are lifting the important community issues up to those who are making decisions and we are being heard.
EDUCATION WIN!! Every Student Succeeds Act
Number served: Title I serves more 20 million students
After years of urging by stakeholders like United Way, Congress finally passed the long overdue update of the No Child Left Behind law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). United Way has advocated consistently on this issue since 2011 -- first, to encourage Congress to move forward in a bipartisan manner, and more recently to secure the inclusion of critical policies and programs. Local United Ways participated in Hill Days, answered numerous calls to action at various points in the legislative process, and leveraged relationships with key members to make direct. As a result, the bill addressed all of our K-12 education policy priorities and included several grant programs where United Ways are eligible entities (e.g. Full-Service Community Schools, Promise Neighborhoods, 21st Century Community Learning Centers). Because of United Way’s advocacy in this space, Brian Gallagher was invited to and attended the President’s signing ceremony for the bill.
INCOME WIN!! Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit
Number Served: 50 million benefited; prevented 16 million from falling into poverty
Dollars in Support: $14B per year (almost 3.5 times the amount raised by United Way in the US per annum)
As part of the end-of-year tax package, Congress passed and the President signed legislation that makes permanent the expiring provisions of the Earned Income (EITC) & Child Tax Credit (CTC), two credits that help working families keep more of what they earn to pay for things like child care, food, and transportation to get to work. Together we conducted 150+ Hill visits and 40+ in-district visits with key members of Congress, placed 25+ local op-eds/letters in strategic local markets, generated robust social media, and engaged individuals to send 5,500 grassroots letters to Congress. United Way worked intensively with national partners and business groups to coordinate on strategy, emerging as a leading organization on this work. We have been recognized for our role as a network by national partners, Congress, and the White House. Read more.
HEALTH WIN!! Children’s Health Insurance Program
Number Served: 8 million children and pregnant women
Dollars in Support: ~ $10.1B (almost 2.5 times the amount raised by United Way in the US each year)
Long a priority of our Public Policy advocacy and Impact work, United Way lobbied Congress on the need to act and extend funding under existing law for CHIP. From asks from hundreds of United Ways during the 2014 CLC and several subsequent Hill Days, to dozens of direct lobby visits by United Way Worldwide with Members of Congress, including leadership, our work, together in coalition, got it done!
COMMUNITY SUPPORTS WIN!! IRS Backs Down from Proposed Rule for Nonprofit collection of donor SSNs
Outcome: After receiving for than 38k comments concerning the IRS’ proposed rule to provide for nonprofits to collect the Social Security Numbers of their donors, the IRS backed down after hearing how detrimental the rule could be to charitable giving. Hundreds of United Ways (more than any other single organization) submitted comments to the IRS.
Note: These Top Tier Wins alone directly serve 78 million of the same people assisted by United Ways.
APPROPRIATIONS: Highlights from the FY 2016 Omnibus Package
- Family Services: $11B for various children and family services programs, $638M more than FY 2015
- Head Start: $9.2B for Head Start, which provides comprehensive early childhood services to children and families from birth to age 5. The amount provided $570M (7%) more than FY 2015 levels. It continues the expansion of Early Head Start that began in 2014
- Child Care and Development Block Grant: $2.8B for CCDBG, $326M (13%) more than FY 2015. This increase is intended to improve the quality and safety of infant and childcare. It includes the $1.7B in mandatory funding for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), equal to the 2015 level
- 21st Century Community Learning Centers: $1.2B (1% more than FY 2015 and our request for this after-school program)
- Promise Neighborhoods: $73M
- Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP): After fears of a potential $10M cut to EFSP, United Way acted with our partners and helped maintain funding at $120M for FY 2016. EFSP also remains housed within the Federal Emergency Management Agency under the US Department of Homeland Security rather than the proposed moved to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA): Funding for VITA was increased by 25%, from $12M to $15M
- Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act: $2.7B for WIOA, which is $86M more than FY 2015 and the House bill
· Medicare and Medicaid: $359.1B in mandatory funding to states for carrying out the joint federal state Medicaid program, including $243.5B for FY 2016 funds and $115.6B in advance of FY 2017 funds
· Maternal and Child Health: $845M, including $638M for the Maternal and Child Heath block grant, $1 million more than FY 2015. HR 2, the same bill that extended funding for CHIP, continued funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation Program for an additional two years
· Healthy Start: $104M for Healthy Start program, nearly $2M more than FY 2015
· Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): $80.8B in mandatory funding for SNAP (57% of the measure’s total funding), $988 (1%) less than FY 2015. This is due, in part, to the uptick of the economy and decrease in the unemployment rate. The total includes $3B in reserve contingency funds
· Child Nutrition Programs: $22.1B in mandatory funding for various child nutrition programs that provide nutritious foods to preschool children and children in elementary and secondary schools. Total provided $850M (4%) more than FY 2015 level
· Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, & Children (WIC): $6.4B in discretionary funding for WIC $273 million, 4% less than FY 2015
- AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS): $1.1B for CNCS, which is $40M more than FY 2015. This includes $61M more than last year’s level for the AmeriCorps program, which serves more than 25,000 locations across the country
- End Modern Slavery Initiative Act: $25M that creates a Global Fund to combat human trafficking
Thank you to everyone who has contacted legislators and written Letters to the Editor about the harmful effects of a cap on itemized deductions, including charitable deductions. House leadership has remained strong in its opposition to such a cap and the Senate did not include the provision in its latest version of economic development and tax legislation (HB 117). We are hopeful that this will not be included in the final budget.
CHIP UPDATE - APRIL 15, 2015
CONGRATULATIONS! Late last night, the Senate passed HR 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, by a vote of 92-8. The President has pledged to sign the bill and will likely do so today.
CHIP directs $5.7 billion in federal investment to the children and families we serve every year. This is augmented by hundreds of millions more at the state level depending on match ratios and the level of federal poverty level (FPL) served, factors that can vary from state to state.
While it is not everything we wanted for CHIP, this is a very significant victory. We have 392 Representatives and 92 Senators voting for current law for CHIP, policy that was passed by the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA), and augmented by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). This will be significant for holding Members accountable to holding 8 million children and pregnant mothers harmless in terms of coverage, eligibility, benefits, and cost sharing when CHIP is debated and discussed in the ensuing two years.
THANK YOU to everyone who contacted your Members of Congress and asked them to support CHIP. As recently as two months ago, the future of CHIP and the children and mothers it serves were very much in question. With time ticking towards expiration, there was no clear path forward, and there were proposals offered that could have negatively impacted the coverage, eligibility, and benefits of the kids and moms CHIP serves. But today, all of our principles for extension were honored, and CHIP children and mothers and their families will have the health and financial security that come with this extraordinarily effective and well-loved program.
This would not have happened were it not for your direct and grassroots lobbying and advocacy efforts. There is a reason Congress acted as well and as quickly as they did, and it is due to the advocacy and lobbying efforts of state and local United Ways, as well as our partners in coalition.
- While no legislative language has been released, the House of Representatives began deliberations the week of March 9 to end scheduled Medicare physician payment cuts. We understand that as part of the negotiations over this $200 billion package language was included for a clean, current law CHIP funding extension for an additional two years through FY 2017. While action has not yet moved to the Senate, Senate Democrats have informed House lawmakers that they will not agree to any deal that does not include a four-year extension of CHIP. Four-years would align CHIP funding with the program's authorization period, which ends in FY 2019.
- You can keep the momentum going by sending an email or making a phone call to urge your Representatives and Senators to extend CHIP by four years. For more information about CHIP, download our fact sheet here.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) porgram leverages volunteer power to ensure that millions of low-and-moderate-income working individuals and families across the country have access to free quality tax preparation, asset-building resources, and financial education. Free tax preparation in the 2014 filing season helped 3.2 million households and led to nearly $4 billion returning to local communities - dollars spent to cover child expenses, pay bills, purchase groceries and household necessities, as well as to save for the future. We are asking Congress to build on this successful public-private partnership by funding the VITA grant program at $18 million in 2016. United Way Worldwide is promoting an organizational sign-on letter for VITA federal grant funding. Ask individual supporters to advocate for VITA through this online action alert.
LEARN MORE ABOUT EITC
On Tuesday, March 31, the Budget and Tax Center is joining with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, United Way of North Carolina, and other partners, to host a conference, Economic Inclusion: Tools to Build the Financial Strength of Low-Income Families and Communities. This conference will convene a multi-disciplinary audience to discuss the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax credit that helps low-income working families move out of poverty and build financial strength, and fosters economic inclusion. Hear from Federal Reserve Bank Economist Kartik Athreya, see video profiles of working families about the power of the EITC, discuss the latest research on the unbanked and EITC recipients in North Carolina and engage with leaders pursuing innovative ways to connect working families to economic opportunity. Register here.
ADVOCACY FORUM AND HILL DAY (UNITED WAY ORGANIZATIONS ONLY)
Most useful for CEOs, volunteers, and staff managing public policy, communications, community impact or resource development.
June 16-18, 2015 in Alexandria, Virginia
- Opportunity to grow volunteer and staff advocacy engagement
- Receive tools and resources to drive change in your local community
- One full day of training on June 16, followed by half day of training on June 17, then "Storm the Hill" event.
More information coming soon.