Seven Practical Requirements for Winning the War on Poverty

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When a family is stuck in the cycle of poverty, they live in a culture that is different from the rest of society. A poverty culture is created by the collective programming of the mind—a mind that is persistently assaulted with deprivation, violence, put-downs and low expectations. This culture creates an economic and social divide that isolates one social economic class from another.

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"Always have gratitude for the things you do have, and never,ever, give up on your goals."

Doug Wallace, author of the award winning memoir, Everything Will Be All Right, announces the creation of a new foundation, “S-KURVE,” (Saving Kids Underperforming by Reinforcing Values Everyday), is designed for the purpose of studying the Culture of Poverty. Doug Wallace, who was born into an impoverished Tennessee family, was one of eight children in a family that had been enchained in a cycle of poverty for four generations. Doug Wallace says the study will focus on seven practical requirements for winning the war on poverty.

Says Wallace, “When research groups conduct generalized studies about teen attitudes, or self-esteem, or happiness the result is meaningful only to the specific social economic status of that group. And, when leaders of our society make policy decisions based upon studies that fail to take into consideration the culture of poverty, they are breaking the social contract that guarantees every child in America an equal opportunity to pursue the American Dream.

“Change the behavior, and you change the future of an impoverished child,” says author Doug Wallace. He believes that the gap in understanding the culture of the poor is one of the key reasons for the government’s failure in the war on poverty. The study will focus on seven practical requirements for winning the war on poverty. Working with school districts and neighborhood leaders in the housing projects of Nashville, TN as well as the impoverished neighborhoods of San Diego, CA, Wallace outlines the focus of the study as follows:

1.    How you feel about yourself is everything. A requirement for upward social mobility is accepting personal responsibility for one’s destiny. Teaching children the various hidden rules of the social economic classes will remove the mystery, thus empowering the student. The Study will include giving impoverished children pamphlets that describe the hidden behaviors of the poverty, middle and upper classes. Subsequent follow up interviews will determine whether the new information has changed the behavior of the impoverished child.
2.    it’s not about money. Material possessions are the results of achieving success. Children should be given an equal opportunity for a higher education, rewarding them with the tools to take personal responsibility for their future. When a person works to earn money, they will appreciate its value. When poverty victims receive entitlements in the form of welfare checks, food stamps and rent subsidies, they don’t say “thank you.” In the culture of poverty, the word entitlement speaks for itself--they are “entitled.". The study will focus on comparative behaviors of teens whose parents receive entitlements, versus the working poor who do not receive entitlements.
3.    Goals, Goals, Goals, and Goals: When Wallace was in the third grade, the teacher asked all the students what they wanted to be when they became an adult. He answered “a lawyer.” Wallace didn’t realize it at the time, but openly declaring this goal in the presence of his classmates created a lasting impression. And, he did in fact become a successful lawyer. Wallace believes schools can help children set goals, and continue to reinforce those goals by a prolonged and persistent effort throughout each school year. The study will work with a select group of impoverished children, encouraging the children to write essays and do research on the best actions they believe they can take to achieve their individual goals. Follow up interviews will encourage the child to give a written explanation as to the specific actions they have taken, and will take in the future to execute.
4.    Exceptional Expectations: Every child wants to succeed. But poverty victims are constantly suffering put-downs and low expectations, not only among their peers at school, but at home and in their neighborhood. However, give that child a reason to believe that they can achieve greatness, and couple that effort with a mentor, and the child will rise to exceptional expectations. The study will coordinate with organizations such as Big Brothers, as well as church groups, to provide mentors for those children who require additional support resources.
5.    To fail is to succeed: Teach children that failure is a life lesson on what works and what doesn’t. Give them motivation to bounce back from setbacks. The study will use mentors to help impoverished children recover in the wake of a setback...
6.    Positive, Not Negative: Create a classroom environment that accents the positive. This can be accomplished through encouragement and positive guidance by a role model---the mentor. The objective is to avoid a negative atmosphere in the classroom and at home.
7.    Never Stop Learning: Wallace believes that impoverished children can’t afford to miss an opportunity to learn. "Every person, every situation, and every encounter becomes a teacher,” says Wallace. “And, whether the teacher or the teachings are good or bad, the lesson will always be valuable. The study will teach impoverished children to use every person, every encounter and every situation as an opportunity to learn---to model the best attributes of society.

Wallace believes that entitlement programs and government handouts do very little, if anything, to change the culture of poverty. Wallace believes his study will be the first in the nation to focus entirely upon generational poverty victims, defined as impoverished families who have been poor for a minimum of two successive generations. “That is one of the reasons why our leaders have failed in the war on poverty, despite billions of dollars over the past forty years,” says Wallace. He believes the war on poverty cannot be won without understanding and addressing the culture of poverty---which is why his study will include a proactive approach designed to effect change in the behavior of poverty victims. The larger goal is to help generational poverty victims achieve upward social mobility, and that can be accomplished by teaching impoverished children that their behavior is one of the key reasons they have been disenfranchised.

Qualified professional role models, and volunteers interested in participating in this study can contact the author at the above link.

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Douglas Wallace
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