Low-Income families face many challenges over the holidays. Our special, Christmas round-up of reading recommendations focuses on the myriad efforts underway to support low-income people and achieve dramatically better results, faster.

Today is Christmas Day. For those who celebrate, it is a holiday marked by joy, family and gift giving. Yet, for low-income families, Christmas and the joy of the holiday season often arrives hand-in-hand with challenges. The seasonal cheer might be weighed down by issues of job loss, foreclosure, homelessness and poverty. They may be missing a family member who will spend the holiday in prison, or overseas. Or maybe they can’t afford the ticket home to be with loved ones.

At Living Cities, the challenges that these families face are top-of mind year-round - not just over the holidays. It’s no question that we, and others, have made strides to move measurable results forward in 2015 (see the below article from Medium). So, as you celebrate this holiday season, we ask that you also reflect on what can be done in 2016 and beyond to accelerate the pace of change and achieve dramatically better results for low-income people, faster.

CEO Suggestion

The Book Every New American Citizen - and Every Old One, Too - Should Read - The Washington Post

Recommended by Ben Hecht, President and CEO, Living Cities

I loved this piece by Washington Post writer Carlos Lozada as he reflects on becoming a US citizen and the relevance, to him and all Americans, of de Tocqueville to present day America, 2016.


Why 2015 Was a Great Year For Humanity

Recommended by Nadia Owusu, Assistant Director of Strategic Communication and Storytelling

In this piece on Medium, Angus Hervey reminds us that, though the problems we face are immense, they are not insurmountable. From the war in Syria, to terrorist attacks in Nigeria, Lebanon, and Paris, to police brutality and ugly political rhetoric and extremism in America, we have had no shortage of bad news this year. But, we’ve also taken steps towards global universal education; we’ve seen global poverty drop to the lowest rate in history; and polio is about to be eradicated forever. Call me Pollyanna, but as I look towards 2016, I’d like to hold onto this good news. I’d like to take it in as a reminder that, with commitment, collaboration, and courage, change is possible. Hervey helpfully offers this quote from his favorite statistician Hans Rosling: “You have to be able to hold two ideas in your head at once: the world is getting better and it’s not good enough!”

The Unseen Mobility of the Working Poor - The Huffington Post

Recommended by Elizabeth Reynoso, Assistant Director, Public Sector Innovation

At the beginning of this year, I read this blog from Mauricio Lim Miller of the Family Independence Initiative. It resonated with my experience in the social sector and the philosophy that informed my work in the public sector, where I identified and invested in the home-grown knowledge and initiatives led by the women dependent on SNAP. These initiatives served to feed their community or support microenterprises owned by formerly incarcerated men and women to employ others with criminal records because they tend to lead to “re-establish(ing) collective economic mobility.

In last week’s post from Mauricio Lim Miller he reminds readers again "that those at the bottom of our economic ladder do strive, dissolving stereotypes of the poor that feed racial and class-based distrust and resentment. With the real story before us, we should look at solutions, not to get the poor out of poverty – they’re already doing that – but to help them rebuild our middle class.”

At Living Cities, I have an incredible opportunity to use data that empowers and uplift the work public service change agents and the social sector leaders who invest in the capacity for low-income community members to achieve economic mobility and define the stories of our collective success.

Man Braves Bitter Cold While Homeless Veteran Stays in His Home - ABC News

Recommended by Brian Nagendra, Senior Investment Associate, Capital Innovation

This December, Eric Jungels from Fargo, ND, did his part to change the struggle facing about 50,000 Americans. Eric slept in a tent in a tent outside to raise funds to help end veterans’ homelessness and raise awareness of those vets that are struggling to get by. It’s inspiring and it reminds me about our power as individuals and what I can do today to face those injustices I see but sometimes feel powerless to change.

Yultide Portraits the Spirit of Christmas Amid Refugees - Syracuse.com

Recommended by Owen Stone, Senior Associate, Public Sector Innovation Tweet

The City of Syracuse, NY has been historically welcoming to refugees. Over the holidays, many organizations, employees and volunteers support placement and resettlement of refugees work to help, comfort and education for newcomers to Syracuse who were displaced by violence or deprivation in their homelands. This article, from 2014, follows one man’s story. Again this year, Syracuse’s Mayor Minor welcome to new residents and refugees for the holidays.

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays 2015 - Staff Photo

The Living Cities staff wish you a very happy holiday season.