NDESPA History and Accomplishments: With initial support from the Seattle Foundation, Strategies to Eliminate Poverty (STEP) program, the NDESPA began in late 2008 as a coalition of advocates with an early purpose of promoting passage of a state earned income tax credit (EITC) in North Dakota. Although the legislation ultimately failed, the NDESPA continues its work, in an even broader scope exemplified by the following vision and mission statements, adopted in 2009:

NDESPA Vision Statement
With the help of supportive policy makers and communities, all North Dakotans will have the tools they need to achieve and maintain economic security for themselves and their families.

NDESPA Mission Statement
The ND Economic Security and Prosperity Alliance works to build and sustain a system of economic security for all through poverty awareness and education, grassroots and community capacity building, research and data development, and promotion of policies and practices to eliminate disparities and obstacles for achieving economic security.

Since originally forming, NDESPA has maintained work in the following key areas of education, outreach and advocacy:

·  Coalition meetings, conference calls and electronic organization: to provide routine communication, coordination and planning activities
·      Research and data gathering: to provide accurate, comprehensive evidence-based support for NDESPA efforts through the North Dakota Economic Policy Project, a State Fiscal Analysis Initiative (SFAI) in North Dakota
·      Public Education and advocacy: to remain in contact with legislative champions, to assist with press releases and conferences, to provide testimony at interim committee hearings, to gain greater legislative support/momentum and to make individual contacts with district legislators; to inform policy makers and the public about the benefits of poverty reduction efforts
·      Coalition-building: to increase the diversity and reach of the coalition and to provide feedback to constituencies to build the coalition into the future

Over the past year, NDESPA accomplishments have included the building of a stronger, bigger, more diverse coalition, and partnering to become a CFED Assets and Opportunities Scorecard Lead State Organization (LSO) Release Partner (first time for North Dakota).
Scope of Work: In the future, the scope of work of the NDESPA includes these key elements:

·      Refining a public relations plan utilizing a media expert/community organizer to frame media messages from the CFED Assets and Opportunities Scorecard along with the Northwest Area Foundation survey results compiled in the “Struggling to Make Ends Meet” Initiative and new evidence-based research generated by the North Dakota Economic Policy Project;
·      Through these messages, NDESPA will continue to reach the public, raise awareness of the issues and increase momentum for the NDESPA coalition-building;
·      Developing and documenting of evidence-based policy and budget recommendations as well as draft legislation in preparation for the 62nd North Dakota Legislative Assembly in 2011 and 2013;
·      Convening of a second “Summit of Organizations and Leaders” in the fall of 2012 in Bismarck to continue building the coalition that creates the agenda for assuring prosperity for all North Dakotans and to assure broad knowledge of the “legislative package” prepared for the legislative sessions;
·      Conduct town hall forums across the state to engage citizens in the NDESPA movement and gain traction for specific legislative proposals; and
·      Assuring passage of desired legislation and policy recommendations through grassroots advocacy, coalition-building and broad communication efforts with constituents and policy makers.

NDESPA is committed to connecting this effort to a broader agenda for poverty reduction and asset building in North Dakota into the future. While North Dakota experiences an unprecedented growth in financial resources, there remain children and families who have no health care, food pantries with not enough food and waiting lists for affordable childcare. These issues place increased burden on parents/adults already working multiple jobs simply to make ends meet.

The coalition is broad and diverse. Some organizations are tasked with helping a particular segment of people (abused women, people with disabilities, single parents) but all organizations are committed to a partnership that does not draw those distinctions. Rather, they wish to work together toward the common goal of poverty reduction recognizing that a “rising tide will lift all ships.” Some organizations opt out of support or opposition to some NDESPA initiatives from time to time, if they have a conflict of interest. Partners in the coalition include the following:

·      North Dakota Women’s Network
·      North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services
·      North Dakota Disabilities Advocacy Consortium
·      North Dakota Head Start Association
·      North Dakota Association for the Education of Young Children
·      North Dakota Community Action Partnership
·      AARP North Dakota
·      American Association of University Women in North Dakota
·      North Dakota Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers
·      ANC/Empowerment First
·      Childcare Aware
·      Catholic Charities ND
·      Mental Health America of North Dakota
·      Prevent Child Abuse of North Dakota
·      Rural Dynamics/Northern Plains Initiative

For more information contact Rose Stoller at 701.224.0588, extension 101, or by email at rstoller@agree.org.

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