CPC and Partners Launch “Poverty: It’s Not What You Think” Advertising Campaign | Chinese-American Planning Council
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CPC and Partners Launch “Poverty: It’s Not What You Think” Advertising Campaign


On October 3rd, CPC partnered with Queens-based community groups to launch an advertising campaign in Flushing, Queens with the goal of breaking long-standing stigmas associated with poverty. The campaign, named "Poverty: It's Not What You Think" is sponsored by a $1.58 million grant from Robin Hood and created by F.Y. Eye and a collective of community groups called Undo Poverty: Flushing. Members of the group include CPC, Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), The Child Center of NY, MinKwon Center for Community Action, Queens Public Library (QPL), and RIVER FUND.

The program began in September 2019, Robin Hood awarded planning grants to nine anchor partners to develop poverty solutions that are both data-driven and heart-led, including the Flushing-based organizations. Other grantees include organizations in  Brownsville, Brooklyn; the South Bronx; Baltimore, Maryland; Cook County, Illinois; Northeastern Pennsylvania; Bayview, California; East San Jose, California; and East Contra Costa County, California.

Nationally, the work of Opportunity Insights shows that the American Dream — rising up from poverty to economic opportunity — is now less likely to happen in the United States than it is in Canada, Denmark, or the United Kingdom. Local New York City data from Robin Hood’s Poverty Tracker reveals a similar story: from year to year, more New Yorkers cycle in and out of poverty than escape it for good. Undo Poverty: Flushing will explore these dynamics and highlight others in a bold new effort to find and test models that address this challenge.

The nationwide planning process is expected to yield a variety of pilot approaches that address gaps in mobility away from poverty. Community-based organizations will receive implementation funding to test and implement these strategies over a three-year period.

"After years of hard work and collaboration, the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) is thrilled to launch this campaign to change the narrative around poverty in Flushing,” said President and CEO Wayne Ho. “Our research and community engagement efforts so far show that we need to speak more openly about poverty in the community. We are grateful to our partners and to F.Y. Eye for helping us to shape this campaign that will initiate courageous conversations and move the needle on this critical subject."

“This is an unprecedented campaign and we are absolutely humbled to be a part of it,” says Jessica Toledano, Executive Director of F.Y. Eye, a nonprofit media agency based in NYC. “How often does an ad campaign focus on breaking stigmas around poverty? Generally ad agencies promote brands or products. It’s rare to have the opportunity to change hearts and minds on a topic as incendiary and controversial as poverty.”

"Understanding the profile, complexity, and nuanced definitions of poverty are key to eradicating poverty.  In New York City, the fastest growing demographic of low-income New Yorkers are people of Asian descent, in particular Asian immigrant populations, many of whom are employed and go to work every day, yet are unable to make ends meet, " said Lori Boozer, Director of Robin Hood's Mobility LABs initiative. "Without a shared, more informed understanding of what poverty is and who experiences it, elevating low-income New Yorkers out of poverty will remain elusive. The "Undo Poverty" campaign shines a bright light on the truth about poverty not only in Flushing, Queens, but across the entire city -- that poverty is pervasive and persistent, laying at the root of inequities that plague our city, while solutions require marshaling resources across sectors to give all New Yorkers a fair shot."   

“If we are going to identify and implement meaningful solutions for ending poverty, it’s essential to address the issues head on,” said Thomas Yu, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality. “Even in our own communities, there is a reluctance to acknowledge the existence of poverty, especially when it comes to the harsh reality of housing instability for so many families on the verge of homelessness. This campaign has the potential to help inspire a compassionate and candid dialogue about how we can help our most vulnerable neighbors strive for brighter futures.”

“The Child Center of NY is thrilled to be part of this groundbreaking ad campaign and work to disrupt generational poverty,” said Nicholas Ferreira, Senior Vice President of Youth Development. “Too many families are working hard and doing everything society asks, yet are trapped in an endless cycle of poverty.  Together, we are committed to learn more and do better in service to our families and communities. Together we can undo poverty.”

“The MinKwon Center is excited about the launch of this new strategic initiative with Robin Hood and F.Y. Eye.,” said John Park, Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action. “Many of the Undo Poverty:Flushing partners began working and meeting together pre-pandemic to analyze and better understand the structures and barriers of poverty in Flushing by not only investigating the issues and potential solutions at a local level, but through a process designed and led by locals. What we saw and continue to see is the pandemic created an almost ubiquitous feeling of uncertainty, in a very real way, that a person’s life, options, and resources can go at any moment and there are no guarantees. It’s time to talk about poverty.”

“Queens Public Library is proud to be part of this multi-partner campaign to develop and implement effective solutions to reduce poverty,” said QPL Director of Community Learning Fatma Ghailan. “Access to information, new skills and technology are essential to economic stability, and QPL stands ready to help people use these tools as they move towards achieving financial security.”

“Through our work with Undo Poverty: Flushing, we hope to learn about what it takes to increase mobility from poverty — to provide a springboard up, rather than a safety net — and about effective measures of mobility,” says Dr. Otto Starzmann, Chief Production Office at RIVER FUND . “For purposes of the initiative, mobility is defined as including three components — economic success, agency, and belonging.

“Flushing’s poverty growth is 28 times higher than the citywide average, yet poverty is an issue we rarely openly discuss in the Asian American community” said Council Member Sandra Ung. “Until we begin to have these difficult discussions, we will not meaningfully address the factors that cause so many of our neighbors to struggle financially. This bold new ad campaign and the ‘Undo Poverty: Flushing’ initiative will hopefully inspire us to begin to find real solutions to the issue.”

NY State Senator John C. Liu said, "Unraveling poverty and economic injustice must start with dismantling the many stereotypes and myths that too often prevent those in need from seeking and receiving assistance. Asian Americans have long lived under the shadow of the model minority myth, which falsely assumes all Asian Americans are wealthy and successful despite them having some of the highest poverty rates in the city. This campaign seeks to help dispel these and other harmful mischaracterizations while raising awareness about the widespread pervasiveness of poverty, and ultimately provide a pathway toward economic mobility."

“Through our work and commitment to providing needed services and opportunities to children, families and underserved groups in our neighborhoods and communities, we have seen the direct impact of the Flushing Co-Leading Organizations and the critical work they do in Queens. We hope this this groundbreaking campaign “Poverty: It’s Not What You Think,” will help create a more open dialogue about not just the topic of poverty but also what we can all do together to design better solutions to create a more sustainable and equitable quality of life for everyone,” said Jane Son, Co-Head of the Amazin’ Mets Foundation and Community Team, New York Mets.

The members of UNDO POVERTY: FLUSHING are among the most influential community organizations in the neighborhood, and across Queens. They are:

- Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE)

- The Child Center of NY

- Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC)

- MinKwon Center for Community Action

- Queens Public Library (QPL)


New Yorkers wishing to learn more about the campaign can visit undopovertyflushing.org.

Press coverage: World Journal, Sing Tao DailyEpoch Times, and China Press.