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 can undo those changes, we can update policy to increase fairness in our state and to decrease the struggling in our communities. We are dedicated to ending poverty in Missouri, but we know we won’t do it alone. That is why Empower Missouri works in coalition, in partnership, with a field of strong and smart advocates.
Empower Missouri convenes coalitions in three focus areas: affordable housing, food security, and the criminal legal system. These areas represent the core of our work because of the deep connection each has to all aspects of poverty. Each greatly impacts a persons’ ability to lead a safe and successful life, and policy change is deeply needed in each area to create better opportunities for us all.
We have four staff members who are able to dedicate their time to organizing meetings, following legislation, recruiting new members, and growing leadership amongst the coalition. We lead, but we don’t dictate. Our coalition members, often representatives of direct service organizations or individuals with personal experience with housing instability, food insecurity, or the criminal legal system, set the policy priorities and drive the work. They bring a unique and essential perspective to the table that Empower Missouri doesn’t have. These experiences and understanding can’t be taught, but it can be shared, and we believe that sharing happens best in a coalition space. We lead with respect, allowing our members to work on shared goals, even when there are other places they may disagree.
We do serious work in our coalition spaces, but we can lean on each other to share that load. We build powerful relationships and empower our communities to take action. We uplift the voices of those most impacted by a policy. We write evidence-based policy and partner with elected officials to help those ideas become law. Together, we are building a movement that can eradicate poverty in Missouri.
Empower Missouri has been working with partners across the state to drive policy change for more than a century, but many people don’t know that we started as the Missouri Conference on Charities and Corrections. Social justice advocates around the state met annually, with shorter working group sessions and networking in St Louis in between. That tradition has continued since those first meetings, during desegregation, the great recession, COVID-19 pandemic, and more, and has always been essential to building our collective power statewide.
This year we are excited to return to in-person conferences with our 2022 Anti-Poverty Advocates Summit on November 15th and 16th. We believe in a future where all people have food, shelter, and justice in Missouri, but it’s going to take everyone to get there. The Summit will be an incredible opportunity to learn from each other, get connected, and work to change lives together.
Mark your calendars for November 15th & 16th, and watch for more information coming soon about how you can join us at our 2022 Anti-Poverty Advocates Summit!