By
Sarah Owsley

Empower Missouri started over 100 years ago as an annual conference, making the job of planning and executing our annual Anti-Poverty Summit even more significant. Ask any nonprofit staff and they’ll tell you that conference execution is no joke. I have to uplift our team and give them a round of applause: 2022’s return to...
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In 2018, I read Peter Temin’s book The Vanishing Middle Class. He got a lot of press coverage when the book was released, in large part because of his thesis that households who are working to escape poverty really need about 20 years without catastrophe. He theorized that on an individual level, it is sometimes...
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At Empower Missouri, we know that we can change lives through effective and targeted policy change. Too many of our neighbors struggle to get their everyday needs met. Housing insecurity, hunger, over policing, historical exclusion: these negative outcomes we see today are a result of intentional, targeted, often racist policy decisions made generations ago. We...
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In many ways, housing advocacy should be easy. Everyone needs housing to thrive, therefore it should be as easily attainable as possible. However in reality, many topics get mixed in and make the conversation much more complicated. Deeply ingrained systemic racism, generational wealth, market volatility impacting rental and purchase prices, and low wages create an...
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We knew going into the legislative session that it would be a wild year. Unfortunately, wild years where very little gets done has become the normal legislative process in Missouri. It wasn’t designed to be this way. However, partisan infighting, electoral maps designed to favor one party, distrust in government and an overall breakdown in...
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Last week, I offered testimony against a pair of bills in the Missouri House and Senate aimed at reducing homelessness. I first celebrated with the sponsors and the committee members that the Missouri legislature should be doing more to address our neighbors who live outside; homelessness is an untenable situation that is below the dignity...
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As I look back in my life, one specific policy has impacted nearly every decision I’ve ever made: Healthcare. I was a single mom during Obama’s first campaign. I worked two jobs which barely covered rent. Even while working more than 40 hours a week in a hospital, I didn’t have healthcare. I pieced together...
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The Initiative Petition (IP) process is an important tool in Missouri, though few voters fully understand its powers or limits. The IP allows voters who feel unrepresented by their elected officials to propose policy changes to fellow Missouri voters on the ballot. The process to get citizen-initiated petitions on the ballot is arduous. The Secretary...
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Empower Missouri is dedicated to ending poverty within our state. In our day-to-day work, we focus on three key areas: affordable housing, criminal justice, and nutrition access. It also means we have to look beyond those issues, to wages, systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, healthcare, education and more–including family planning. Access to reproductive healthcare is an...
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I’ve been with Empower Missouri nearly 4 years now, and since I started every legislative session we work against work hour tracking for SNAP. It feels almost like a bad cartoon at this point, as we go ‘round and ‘round on the same issue: Work Requirements. On the surface it may sound good, individuals who...
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