Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement Program

In a vibrant city like Charlotte, it’s easy to overlook the fact that many are suffering amid affluence. Our Civic Engagement Program increases awareness of the complex issues facing more than 100,000 neighbors living in poverty.

Even families whose income is twice the Federal Poverty Level struggle to afford safe housing, reliable transportation, child care, utilities, food, and other necessities. An unexpected event such as an illness or job loss can send an accomplished person into a downward financial spiral.

More than 100,000 of our neighbors live in poverty. 

Empowering Advocates

The Civic Engagement Program engages and empowers the community to be advocates for people facing poverty by:

  • Increasing awareness of the complex issues that make it challenging for some neighbors to make ends meet
  • Encouraging community dialogue and participation in removing barriers to financial security
  • Changing attitudes and policies that create barriers to economic mobility

The most powerful advocates are customers themselves. We provide training to highly motivated individuals interested in sharing their story and effecting positive change for others living in poverty.

Poverty Simulations

Since 2008, Crisis Assistance Ministry has been the local lead facilitator of Poverty Simulations, a facilitated two-hour immersive experience designed to create awareness among participants of life at the bottom rung of the economic ladder. The simulation presents participants with real-life scenarios and challenges faced by people living in poverty and is immediately followed by a group debrief, during which participants reflect on the experience, discuss insights, and consider next steps.

Small Miracles Lead to Big Impact

Kim is a portrait of resilience and persistence. After a medical emergency and a job layoff left her and her children at risk of eviction, she turned to Crisis Assistance Ministry for help. Thanks to community support, she found a way forward and few “small miracles” along the way.

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August 26 is Women’s Equality Day

Women’s Equality Day commemorates the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, which guaranteed women the right to vote. Nearly a century later, has that legal right translated to equality for women?

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Partnership Rallies Community to Help Lake Arbor Families

When more than 170 families at Lake Arbor apartments received notice to move out before year’s end, Crisis Assistance Ministry joined a partnership of agencies to help affected residents avoid homelessness. Initial estimates show the community will need an additional $350,000 to assist affected families.

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August 21 is National Senior Citizens Day: The Future is Silver

It’s National Senior Citizens Day, a fitting time to reflect on the outlook for aging in America. About 5% of the people served at Crisis Assistance Ministry are age 65 and over. Each has a unique story of a life filled with triumphs and challenges.

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Hungry for Knowledge or Just Plain Hungry?

College students surviving on ramen noodles and peanut butter may not be a myth according to a recent study which revealed nearly half of all students are food insecure. How are college campuses responding?

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Oh, SNAP: Proposed Changes to Food Stamps

Imagine receiving a well-deserved raise at work, only to discover that it drives your struggling family further into financial distress.

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Poverty: The Newest “Dirty” Word

Poverty isn’t a permanent place that someone lives in; in fact, most people flow in and out of living in poverty throughout their lives. Living paycheck to paycheck is relatively normal today. Therefore, missing a paycheck due to sickness or another issue could cause a surge in the direction of poverty and hinder the ability to pay rent on time or buy groceries for your family.

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Energy: The Overlooked Aspect of Affordable Housing

As the debate about how to fix Charlotte’s affordable housing shortage rages on, it’s important to remember that skyrocketing rents are not the only factor. “Affordable housing” means a household spends no more than 30% of its income on rent and utilities. It’s that second part – the cost of utilities – that often gets left out of the conversation.

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“Don’t Feel Sorry for Me”

A recent discussion and training session brought together college-aged interns with community advocates who have experienced life on the bottom rung of the economic ladder in Charlotte. The wide-ranging conversation allowed participants to put themselves in the shoes of the people they will serve and to think a bit differently about the lives of people in poverty.

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Serving a Traumatized Community

Trauma-informed care is increasingly recognized as a preferred approach in medical and behavioral health settings. Crisis Assistance Ministry staffer Rochelle McCrimmon shares its application in the daily work of serving neighbors in financial crisis.

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How Struggling on the Economic Margins Affects Mental Health

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly one in five adults in the United States experiences a mental health condition each year. For families living below the federal poverty line, mental illness is even more prevalent and pernicious.

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Let’s Talk About Living Wages in the Queen City

There’s been a flurry of minimum-wage-raising activity in Charlotte recently, which is certainly good news for the low-wage workers whose paychecks are increasing. But, is $15 an hour really a living wage?

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