College to host ‘conversation’ on poverty

Published 7:30 am Friday, July 10, 2009

FRANKLIN—Virginia’s poverty rate is among the 10 lowest in the nation, according to census data, however, that’s not good enough for state officials. They hope that a series of community conversations can help them implement strategies to lower the commonwealth’s poverty rate.

Paul D. Camp Community College’s Franklin campus is among 25 community colleges across Virginia that will host the “Act on Poverty” community conversations on Saturday, July 18, from 10 a.m. to noon The conversation will take place in the Regional Workforce Development Center and is free and open to the public.

“Paul D. Camp Community College is thrilled to be a part of this,” said PDCCC President Dr. Doug Boyce. “Our staff, faculty and administrators are in everyday contact with many of the most economically vulnerable people in Western Hampton Roads. It is important that they attend, and our community leaders be there to hear them, and provide solutions of their own. “

The conversations are publicized as a forum for community members to pitch ideas to help reduce poverty in their communities and across the state. The Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Community College System, Virginia Community Action Partnership, the Virginia Department of Social Services and Gov. Timothy Kaine’s Poverty Reduction Taskforce are all partnering to host the conversations.

Kaine announced the creation of the Poverty Reduction Taskforce in May. It consists of public and private partners who will attend public meetings and identify challenges and opportunities to lift children and families out of poverty.

“We are eager to hear solutions from the public and the leaders of Virginia on ways that we can expand economic opportunities for all residents,” said Anthony Conyers Jr., commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services.

After the meetings, the taskforce will make long-term and short-term policy recommendations to fight poverty in Virginia.

According to recent census estimates, more than 739,000 Virginians- nearly 10 percent of the state’s total population- live below the federal poverty line, including 232,600 or 12.9 percent of Virginia’s children.

Poverty rates in Southwest and Southside Virginia top 17 percent and nearly 20 percent of Franklin’s population lives below the poverty line, according to data from the 2000 census, the most recent available.