Could inflation be a persistent problem for the foreseeable future?

Could inflation be a persistent problem for the foreseeable future?

Could inflation be a persistent problem for the foreseeable future?

couple - inflation empty wallet

The CPI is up over 7% over last 12 months

Today, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that in December the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The CPI is up 7% over the last 12 months, not seasonally adjusted. That is the largest 12-month increase since 1982.

inflation graphic

Georgia Center for Opportunity’s take:

 “Pundits are breathing a sigh of relief after the latest CPI numbers landed because they weren’t worse than expected, but optimism may be misplaced,” said Erik Randolph, GCO’s director of research. “The problem is that we’ve established a new floor for prices that likely won’t go down in the coming years. Those impacts are most acutely felt in the areas that hit the pocketbooks of the lower income the hardest, such as food, rent, and energy. Now, it’s more important than ever to avoid pumping more stimulus into the economy that will only worsen the problem. Doing so could make inflation a year-in, year-out persistent problem for the foreseeable future.”

 

State can give parents options and support traditional public schools

State can give parents options and support traditional public schools

State can give parents options and support traditional public schools

GIRL SCIENCE, ELECTRICAL BOARD

Educational choice is saving the state money

 

An updated analysis from EdChoice finds that Georgia’s two educational choice programs—the Special Needs Scholarship Program and the Qualified Education Expense Tax credit—have saved Georgia taxpayers between $605 and $1.1 billion through the 2018 fiscal year. That translates to between $4,355 and $8,013 in taxpayer savings per student participating in the programs.

Buzz - edu media statement

Georgia Center for Opportunity’s take:

 “There is a falsehood out there that if we expand access to different educational options for Georgia families we’ll end up hurting traditional public schools. Data like this from EdChoice clearly show this isn’t the case,” said Buzz Brockway, GCO’s vice president of public policy. “Our toxic political environment sets up a false dichotomy between giving families a choice in education and supporting traditional public schools. Our state can do both. In fact, if our goal is to do what’s best for students and families, then we must do both: Have properly funded and supported traditional public schools while providing options for families who need a different environment for their children to best thrive.”

 

#GivingTuesday 2021

#GivingTuesday 2021

#GivingTuesday 2021

Giving Opportunity

The days following Thanksgiving have become jam packed with advertisements for all the product sales happening after the holiday. The volume of advertisements often becomes overwhelming and obnoxious. 

As we reflect on all we have accomplished this year—and what  still needs to be accomplished—we’re asking you to persevere through the barrage of ads and think about tomorrow. #GivingTuesday is globally recognized every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—this year November 30th. The purpose of the day is to inspire people to give to the causes and organizations they care about.  

We’ve set a goal for $150,000, and we need your help. 

We see this day as an opportunity to help more of our neighbors and to share the impact of our work. Through your tax-deductible gift, we have been able to expand opportunities in local communities and help children and families access the education options not previously available to them. We have built onto our BETTER WORK model helping connect the chronically un- and under-employed with the resources they need to get back to work. And we have partnered with community schools, churches, and organizations providing the tools families need to build healthy foundations, allowing them to withstand the stressors of life. 

#GivingTuesday isn’t just about the dollars you donate. It’s about transforming lives. It’s about helping REAL people, and giving opportunity for success when there was no hope of a better life to be found. YOU can make the difference. Please, don’t wait until tomorrow to give. Give the gift of opportunity right now.

Additional Ways You Can Support The Georgia Center For Opportunity:

 

AmazonSmile

Find out how you can give to GCO while shopping this holiday season. It’s easy, fast, and fun!

Steps to set up AmazonSmile »

 

Kroger Community Rewards

Connect your Kroger Rewards card with the Kroger Community Rewards Program.  If you have a card, you can connect it to Georgia Center for Opportunity by going to the community rewards and searching for PF157.

Connect your card today! »

 

Nicole’s story: How a raise meant losing food stamp benefits for this mom of four

Nicole’s story: How a raise meant losing food stamp benefits for this mom of four

Nicole’s story: How a raise meant losing food stamp benefits for this mom of four

correctional officer

Nicole had high hopes when she moved her family from a rural area in south Georgia to Henry County in the Atlanta metro. The cost of living went up, but the job opportunities were more plentiful and paid much better: She went from making $25,000 a year to over $35,000 as a corrections officer.

But that’s when Nicole got an unpleasant surprise. Her new salary level meant that her safety-net benefits from the government went entirely away—not reduced, but entirely eliminated. She ended up getting around a $10,000 raise but losing approximately $12,500 in benefits.

“I ended up getting kicked off social services because I made a couple dollars more than the max I could,” Nicole shared.

Nicole is 32 years-old and the single mother of four boys. “I’m the only income. I don’t get child support payments or anything else,” she said.

Losing her benefits—particularly food stamps—was a severe blow, especially during the pandemic. Although she has gotten help from local church-based food banks to help her make ends meet, her situation is still stressful.

To further bridge the gap, Nicole is working as much overtime as possible. But she would need to earn significantly more—to the tune of $25 an hour—in order to fully make up for the benefits she has lost. Even in an economy where wages are quickly rising for many workers, that raise level is a tough haul.

 

What needs to change?

Nicole encountered what we call the “benefit cliff,” where well-intentioned policies actually prevent people from getting off public services. They make just enough to lose their benefits, but not enough to make up for those lost benefits. The result is a system that keeps people trapped in poverty rather than one that propels them toward self-sufficiency and the dignity that comes with it.

While it is wonderful to see how the community has stepped up to help Nicole fill the gaps left from her losing access to food stamps, not everyone is so fortunate.

So, what’s the best pathway forward? Our goals should be to shore up the safety net for those who truly need it, eliminate these benefit cliffs, and create a system that encourages (rather than discourages) people from climbing the economic ladder. Along these lines, here are three possible ways forward:

 

  • The food stamp program could be fully redesigned to eliminate the benefit cliffs.

 

  • Separate pools of funds (from public, private, and charitable resources) could be set up as temporary stop-gap measures to get people like Nicole beyond the cliff.

 

  • Nicole could work with someone who understands the cliffs to help her strategize a career and pay progression to effectively jump over the cliff.

 

The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

#DareToClimb media campaign

This is why the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) recently launched the #DareToClimb media campaign. The campaign is designed to raise awareness and share stories of those trapped in government assistance programs that, while well-intentioned, are structured in a way that often does more harm than good. GCO believes it is important to share the stories of these courageous men and women who have overcome obstacles in their lives to achieve self-sufficiency.

To learn more, follow the #DareToClimb hashtag.

** The $35,000 income limit is based on Nicole’s interview with us. Although our calculations show it will be somewhat higher, the impact and stress she is experiencing will be the same.

 

Q&A with Curtis and Tonika on their experience in the Elevate class

Q&A with Curtis and Tonika on their experience in the Elevate class

Q&A with Curtis and Tonika on their experience in the Elevate class

The COVID-19 pandemic has put stress and strain on peoples’ relationships like few other times. In this challenging environment, the Georgia Center for Opportunity has stepped up to be involved in a new series of relationship enrichment classes called Elevate for Couples.

Below is a Q&A with Curtis and Tonika, two graduates of the Elevate class who share their experiences and takeaways.

Q: Please introduce yourselves—your background, current work, and family life?

Tonika: We are a mixed family of five children. We’ve been married for two years in June and we dated for three and a half years. We met through a mutual friend, my son’s barber. When I met my husband, he had custody of his four children from a previous marriage. So he brought four to the team and I brought one. It took me a while to get over the whole shenanigans of the kids, but we were friends.

What won me over was just watching him with his children just take care of the spiritual, education, just everything. I watched him do this effortlessly. He has a heart of gold, because most people would run away.

For work, I’ve actually been a nurse practitioner for about two years. I’ve been a nurse for 16 years. We recently moved to the Atlanta area about almost two years ago now. We come from middle Georgia in Macon and Milledgeville.

Curtis: I did accounting for 15 years and then I transitioned about three years ago into chaplaincy. So I’m a chaplain for a hospice company here in Atlanta.

Q: Heading into the Elevate class, what were some of the most significant challenges and stressors in your relationship?

Curtis: For me, the biggest thing was striving to navigate through a blended family. I was hoping to gain some insights on how to navigate that in a healthy way. That was really, really important to me. The class did offer me some insights that I was able to extract. Marriage within itself is a challenge, coupled with children is another challenge. But in a blended family, they don’t teach you that in school.

Tonika and I are similar in our love for Christ, in our career aspirations, and things of that nature. But our biggest struggle is the blended family component when it comes to the children.

Q: What parts of the Elevate class did you find most useful?

Curtis: What was most useful for me was the opportunity to reflect upon myself—just the place and space that I am in as an individual. That matters a lot. Because at the end of the day, I have no control over what comes out of somebody else’s mouth or the actions that they choose to display. But I do have complete control over how I respond and the things I choose to do. So each session afforded me the opportunity to just reflect—what are my growing areas? What am I missing? What are my blind spots?

Q: Of the seven core relationship skills and qualities for success, which one did you find most impactful for your own relationship?

Tonika: For me it was “engage.” It’s easy to forget about engagement with a busy day-to-day life. For me, it helped remind me of what’s most important. You have to make it a priority or it’ll just be on the list.

Q: Overall, how did Elevate improve your relationship?

Curtis: It afforded me a better understanding of Tonika. Just pausing enough to even consider her perspective. I think that was big for me. I honestly try to do that and she’ll be the first one to tell you I get it wrong a lot. I can make my mind up about something really fast. I’m very flexible, I’m very optimistic. One of my excuses is that I don’t make excuses, I make adjustments. I make it work. That’s just how I’ve been raised. But I can’t automatically project that onto Tonika. I have done that in the past, and it’s 100% wrong of me. Now, I consider her thoughts, her framework, and her narrative.

Q: What are your future goals and plans?

Tonika: I want us to continue to build, to continue to grow, continue to understand each other. Just grow individually and collectively in marriage. Always seek to better ourselves and our marriage. There is no cap to that—we’ll never get it right all the time. You always need to be building upon that.

Curtis: Balance and then a healthy life. I definitely want to continue to see personal growth. I often tell my kids that the only person I’m in competition with is striving to be a better person than who I was yesterday. I also want balance. I’m at that place where everything can’t be a priority. A lot of things that used to matter to me don’t really matter anymore.

The Elevate program is being provided to couples across Georgia thanks to a federal grant received by the Fostering Relationship and Economic Enrichment Project (Project F.R.E.E.).

Project F.R.E.E. is a collaboration between the University of Georgia Extension System and community partners across Georgia. Our aim is to create communities where children are safe and thrive. To do this, our campus-community partnership initiative is mobilizing a network of organizations who connect, learn and collaborate to integrate healthy marriage and relationship education into existing community-based services across Georgia.

 

Taking Your Relationship To The Next Level!

Empower Yourself: Empower your relationship through empowering yourself
Lay the Foundation: Intentionally committing effort to lay the foundation for a lasting relationship
Enlighten: Sharing intimate information with your partner to enlighten each other about your relationship
Value: Value and respect the positive aspects of your partner and your relationship
Attach: Cultivating and maintaining friendship with your partner                                                                                                                   Tame: Cultivate strategies to manage your differences in healthy and safe ways                                                                                              Engage (and Wrap Up): Engaging social support, community ties, and sources of meaning

 

 

Taking it to the Next Level

Taking it to the Next Level

Taking it to the Next Level

 It was a rainy Thursday night in Georgia, but that didn’t stop couples from gathering for a night of food and fun, and strengthening couples and marriages in their relationships.  #ElevateCouples Pop-up Event was hosted by GCO’s Family team (formerly Healthy Families Initiative) as a time to emphasize the importance of romantic relationships and keeping them thriving. Over a meal, couples were engaged in a course appetizer for the Elevate: Taking Your Relationship To The Next Level! Workshop. 

Elevate is offered to Georgia couples free of charge (as part of a partnership with University of Georgia and Project F.R.E.E.) as a time to invest in their marriage and relationships. The course is an eight week commitment from couples to discover ways to elevate their relationship to the next level. The course is offered in-person and virtually, and during this time couples are not in counseling, but lead through exercises to learn how to manage stress inside and outside of their relationship, conflict resolution, dealing with differences, and most importantly finding ways to connect to each other. It’s designed for couples of all ages (18 years old and up) who are in committed relationships and/or married. 

The pop-up event allowed couples a VIP look at what the course has to offer and how they can benefit from it both emotionally and physically. The group was able to hear one of the facilitators talk about highlights of the program and the best part of the course which is seeing couples grow. It didn’t stop there; attendees also watched a recorded testimony from previous workshop participants who explained the teachings of Elevate, and how it had a ripple effect in their family. What they learned went beyond their own marriage, but allowed for a trickle down of knowledge and modeling behavior for their grandchildren to see an example of a healthy relationship. 

To learn more about how you and your honey can Elevate, click here