Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Many Thanks for a Great 2008!

We dedicate our last post of the year to our wonderful state partners in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin! We’re using this opportunity to spotlight some of the great successes and fabulous work underway in each of the states. To find out more about this exciting work, visit each state’s website at: http://www.wowonline.org/ourprograms/eesi/

California (Insight Center for Community Economic Development)… where our partner is working with the Women’s Policy Institute of the California Women’s Foundation to use the Elder Economic Security Initiative as a platform for innovative legislation recommending use of the Elder Index in state and regional strategic planning efforts and care management assessment protocols. More details to come!

Connecticut (Permanent Commission on the Status of Women)… where our partner was recently quoted in an CT AARP newsletter article, “Older Women Face Higher Risk of Poverty,” on how gender and pay inequality impact economic security for women over the life span.

Illinois (Health and Medicine Policy Research Group)… where our partner is taking a lead role alongside advocates across the state to expand access and address financial barriers to enrolling in the state’s home and community-based long term care program by revising the eligibility formula for the program’s sliding scale fees.

Massachusetts (Massachusetts Association of Older Americans, Inc.)… where our partner was named “Advocate of the Year” by the Massachusetts Councils on Aging! Bravo!

Michigan (Elder Law of Michigan, Inc.)… where our partner was awarded a grant from MI AARP to use the Elder Index as a tool for outreach to elders on vital income support programs, such as housing assistance and the Medicare Savings Programs.

Minnesota (Minnesota Women’s Consortium)… where our partner is leveraging technology to bring the Elder Economic Security Initiative to stakeholders across the state through e-communications, online surveys and statewide video conferences.

New Jersey (New Jersey Foundation for Aging)… where our partner is developing a comprehensive intergenerational framework for economic security through the Elder Economic Security Initiative and drawing upon the expertise of other key organizations, including the Rutgers Center for Women and Work and Legal Services of New Jersey.

Pennsylvania (PathWaysPA)… where our partner’s engagement with local service providers resulted in the Elder Index being used to determine income eligibility for senior social service programming of the United Way of Great Lehigh Valley.

Wisconsin (Wisconsin Women’s Network)… where our partner’s outreach efforts to local advocates resulted in proposals by county officials in Washburn and Pierce counties to increase energy assistance to low-income seniors. Great stuff!

This is just a sampling! Each state has accomplished so much this year in furthering the Elder Economic Security Initiative. We congratulate each state on their individual accomplishments and we look forward to working with each state in the New Year to continue the success of the Initiative.

Thanks so much you for all of your hard work! We anticipate many more exciting outcomes in 2009!

Monday, December 22, 2008

We asked. The Transition Team responded.

Transition Team Announces Appointment of Task Force on Working Families in line with Wider Opportunities for Women's Recommendation

After our remarks to the Obama Transition Team last week, we are delighted the incoming administration is committing to work toward economic security for families and elders.

Read the Washington Post article about the Task Force here.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Susan Rees
(202) 464-1596

December 22, 2008

Task Force Shows Commitment to Working Families’ Agenda

Washington, DC—Wider Opportunities for Women’s Executive Director, Joan Kuriansky, praised the new administration’s Task Force of Working Families and reiterated WOW’s support for this inter-agency task force.

The impact of measuring policies and programs designed to improve the quality of life for all working families to a ‘yardstick’ can make a profound difference in both the administration of public programming and in the lives of the people they touch. “For over 40 years WOW has worked across the nation and in its home community of Washington, DC to build pathways to economic security for America’s families. That the administration has produced a vision for a task force which is in line with our recommendation for a Task Force on Economic Security demonstrates their commitment to working families and to listening to the advocates who exist to serve those working families,” Kuriansky said.

“Now more than ever we need tools to rebuild our communities, our economy and the American Dream—the American Dream in which all men and women have access to quality jobs that enable them to pay their bills, give their children a good education and prepare for the day they can retire in dignity with financial security in their own communities. An interagency task force dedicated to using a tool, a ‘yardstick’, to measure how far our families have come in terms of income adequacy and economic security can move federal policies and programs in the right direction.

“We applaud the administration’s goals for this task force. Putting an administration-wide emphasis on expanding education and lifelong training opportunities, improving work and family balance, restoring labor standards, including workplace safety, helping to protect middle-class and working-family incomes, and protecting retirement security are key ingredients to economic security for all working families. WOW looks forward to working with the administration to achieve movement along the administration’s yardstick and for American families,” Kuriansky concluded.

Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) is a national organization that has helped women and their families achieve economic independence and equality of opportunity for over 40 years. Through our national Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Project and Elder Economic Security Initiative, WOW works with over 2,500 allies and partners in 40states. For more than 40 years, WOW has helped women learn to earn, with programs emphasizing literacy, technical and nontraditional skills, the welfare-to-work transition, career development, and retirement security. Since 1964, WOW has trained more than 10,000 women for well-paid work in the DC area. WOW leads the National Women's Workforce Network, which is comprised of organizations committed to increasing women and girls' access to well-paid work, the Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Project, and the Elder Economic Security Initiative.

Friday, December 19, 2008

WOW Briefs Obama Transition Team

Wider Opportunities for Women was pleased to brief the Obama Transition Team Wednesday on issues specific to women, work, and families. Our Executive Director, Joan Kuriansky, and Reproductive Rights Coordinator Ann Kolker were both in attendance and below are Ann’s thoughts on the event.

"Amidst the flurry of briefing papers, sign-on letters, conference calls and late-night conversations that have pre-occupied WOW as we prepare for a new administration in January, one event stands out: WOW was asked by the head of outreach for the transition team to organize a briefing on women, work and families issues for individuals expected to hold high level positions in the Obama-Biden administration. We quickly assembled about 20 experts from the coalitions and partner groups we work with – and on Wednesday provided a synopsis of the priority quality jobs, benefits, affirmative action, education and training and core economic security issues that could be addressed in the early months of the new administration. Transition officials appeared impressed with our presentation and excited to have “action items” that the incoming team could implement." - Ann Kolker

Monday, December 15, 2008

WOW Featured in Forbes.com Op-Ed

Wider Opportunities for Women is pleased to be featured in an op-ed by Forbes writer Ruthie Ackerman last week on the importance of women in the workforce and how women can continue to defy the odds and take on nontraditional roles and progress even further to prominent positions. We are glad to be continually seen as a national resource for women looking for training and employment opportunities.

“Programs like Washington, D.C.-based Wider Opportunities for Women does just that, training women in construction and related fields. After Hurricane Katrina, the group offered instruction to women in Mississippi so that they could take advantage of the slew of rebuilding jobs in the state.”

– Ruthie Ackerman

To read the full article, click here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Helping Elders Get Around

One expense vital to elders’ health and mobility is transportation. Whether it is depending on a car or public transportation, elders have to factor in this expense and it can get quite costly. The Independent Transportation Network® (ITN) is a nonprofit organization that offers affordable, dignified transportation to elders though its affiliates in eight states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Maine. This is uniquely operated and allows seniors unable to drive to participate in the CarTrade™ program, which allows them to trade in their car for transportation credits.

ITN is a great example of volunteers taking control to assist their communities. Volunteer drivers can earn and store mileage credits that they can use when they transition to the passenger seat. It’s called Transportation Social Security™. Volunteers can also choose to donate the credits they earn to low income seniors who apply for help through the Road Scholarship™ program.

Though not all communities have an ITN® affiliate or similar organization, it is encouraging to see innovative and leading examples like this one. The Elder Economic Security Standard Index™ (Elder Index) maps out elders’ transportation costs by geographic location, whether in a rural or urban setting, to more accurately portray true costs. In communities without a free or affordable elder transportation system, the Elder Index can help advocate for such a system or to fund programs that advocate for elder economic security more generally.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Elders Voice Concern about Economy

This week, we are highlighting an Associated Press video on YouTube titled, “Financial Crisis Taking Toll on Nest Eggs”. Elders and other advocates are featured in the video discussing the frustration and financial uncertainty the economic crisis is having on elders. One thing the piece shows is the vast amount of elders affected.

Little has been said or done yet about retirees or older workers in regards to the currently discussed economic stimulus package, although both groups are being affected just as much if not more than the rest of the population. As mentioned in the video, retirees are living on a fixed income unable to attain additional income and are uncertain if they should keep in or take out their money from the banks because of the shaky financial situation. In addition, retirees who may want to reenter the workforce face the staggering statistic of 25.9 weeks to find a job, as stated in an AARP report last month.

One of the last segments of the video talks about elders’ hope that the government will work toward securing their funds and the Elder Economic Security Initiative is working with elders toward this goal. Through our policy efforts, we want to make sure elders are assisted by the upcoming economic stimulus bill. Our fact sheets for policymakers, advocates, and service providers, also provide a deeper look into the Initiative and how we are helping elders to afford their basic food, transportation, housing, and healthcare needs.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


CALL FOR STORIES: Elders Struggling to Make Ends Meet

Do you work with seniors who are having trouble making ends meet?

Do you know of elders who are skipping meals or splitting medications to conserve them?

Do you come in contact with adult children struggling financially because of their care giving responsibilities to an aging parent?

If so, please help Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) collect their stories. These stories will be featured on the WOW website along with other seniors, baby boomers and family caregivers who are struggling to get by. These profiles will help support efforts to raise awareness and promote policy and program change to assure the economic well-being of elders and their families. Help WOW educate policy makers and the media about how difficult it is for seniors in our communities to afford nutritious food, prescription medications and utilities in today’s economy!

Contact Stacy Sanders at ssanders@wowonline.org or (202) 464-1596 to find out more.