Poverty is an efficacy issue, and correcting that issue depends upon not only on the abilities of those affected, but also their beliefs in those abilities. Consider the work of Albert Bandura in the realm of social psychology. Bandura posited:
“Perceived self-efficacy is defined as people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. Self-efficacy beliefs determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves and behave. Such beliefs produce these diverse effects through four major processes. They include cognitive, motivational, affective and selection processes.”
People want help, but more than that they want to feel like they have a purpose, can take care of themselves, and are able to stand shoulder to shoulder with others in the world. Giving food, water, and other provisions goes a long way toward ending global poverty, but perhaps the final nail in the proverbial coffin is the gift of training and education.
The Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, based in Chicago IL, is a community-based organization tracing its roots back 125 years in the area. They see poverty as having myriad causes, so a multi-pronged approach must be used to deal with it. The organization offers healthcare, housing, legal aid, and economic opportunities on top of traditional advocacy.
Economic outreach through financial education, job training, and even refugee resettlement help people immediately gain not only valuable skills necessary to be viable in any economy, but a modicum of efficacy that can be further built upon. Vocational training is tailored to the private sector as the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights attempts to link skills to jobs. Because of unforeseen circumstances that can derail any forward momentum, like suddenly losing a home, an emergency fund is also maintained.
Community-based groups, like the one in question, can offer innovative and tailored solutions for fighting poverty that can serve as an example to other organizations. By focusing on the greater Chicago area, The Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights acts as a network and broker for local employers and potential job prospects. Coupled with the right skill sets, this makes placing qualified candidates into open jobs easier.
Solution-centered outreach programs for the disenfranchised that offer a hand up rather than a hand out are needed in this fight. Education and helping people help themselves is a valuable tool in ending systemic poverty, and we can’t forget that.
If you’d like to help the alliance, please visit their website where you can make a flat donation or one of several options that benefit the Chicago community directly, like a job training course or a housewarming kit for a new home. The direct link to that page can be found here: http://www.heartlandalliance.org/howtohelp/giveagift/ . To make a statement in your area, don’t hesitate to contact your congresspeople and legislators about what steps are being taken to combat poverty and improve education for those who most need it. Providing education and training to the disenfranchised sparks self efficacy and enhances the community.
– David Smith
Sources: Stanford University, The Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, National Housing Institute – Shelterforce
Photo: Business Time