Volunteer Expert Quizzes Americans, "How Would You Solve Poverty?"

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Author and volunteer expert Debra Schweiger Berg is seeking input on a Goliath-sized social problem. She is asking Americans for their ideas on how to solve poverty in the United States. Berg is seeking the answers during a National Volunteer Week launch of a bold new survey titled "How Would You Solve Poverty."

The purpose of National Volunteer Week (April 23-29) is to recognize the efforts of volunteers across America. However, for one dedicated researcher, it is also an opportunity to raise awareness about poverty. Debra Schweiger Berg is asking Americans, over half of whom volunteer for social and charitable causes each year, their opinion on how best to solve the nation’s poverty problem.

The researcher cites growing interest in the topic because of the media coverage that spotlighted hurricane Katrina victims in poverty. She is also motivated to ask the question after ten years of research during which she surveyed Americans who had invented solutions to counteract the causes of poverty in thirty U.S. cities. “Their low-cost, ground-breaking ideas are working,” shared Berg. “I simply want to find out how many more creative solutions are out there that the experts might be overlooking or discounting as too simple,” she added.

Berg, who has relied heavily on the Internet to uncover over 100 social solutions, has decided to harness that technology once more. This time she is asking Americans to visit a web site, http://www.howwouldyousolvepoverty.com, and submit their ideas for countering poverty in 500 words or less. “Submitted ideas may address poverty nationally or at the neighborhood level,” Berg added. The researcher will compile the responses using sophisticated database technology and then post the results on the web. She plans to publish the best ideas in a book.

As the author of The Power of One: The Unsung Everyday Heroes Rescuing America’s Cities (Trafford Press, 2004), Berg believes Americans, known for their volunteerism and inventiveness, are fully capable of tackling tough social issues. “After all,” she added, “we’ve placed a man on the moon and cured deadly diseases, why not a cure for poverty, then?”

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Debra Berg
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