Poverty Summit Overview

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Poverty Summit – Introduction

In October 2016 Clear Vision Eau Claire kicked off a Poverty Summit, a citizen-led, multi-year, and multi-generational public engagement and problem solving project to identify and take action on critical community issues related to poverty and income inequality in Eau Claire County.

The Poverty Summit builds on the experiences of smaller scale community empowerment summits Clear Vision convened in 2012 and 2013 and the results of county-wide community dialogues held in 2014-15 that identified issues related to poverty as a major concern throughout Eau Claire County. Concerns about living wage jobs, the rate of poverty, underemployment, and the related debilitating personal impacts on households with children were cited as major concerns in the 2015 Eau Claire City Comprehensive Plan. Poverty has also been identified as a significant concern by the Eau Claire Area School District, Eau Claire County, United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley, and the City/County Health Department Healthy Communities initiative.

The Problem

The per capita poverty rate in Eau Claire County increased from 12.9% in 1980 to 14.5% in 2015. The poverty rate for the City of Eau Claire increased from 14.8% in 1980 to 17.7% in 2015. One in five children under 18 in Eau Claire County are food insecure (defined as limited or uncertain availability to healthy, adequate and safe food for a healthy and active lifestyle). Over 40% of the students enrolled in the Eau Claire Area School District qualify for free or reduced lunch.


Key Summit outcomes include:

1. Reduce the number of individuals and families living in poverty

2. Build more resilient, thriving and inclusive communities that empower citizens to act

Project Coordination

The Clear Vision Board will provide overall project coordination for the Poverty Summit. During Phase 1 the Clear Vision Board will convene an Initiating Committee to complete a stakeholder analysis and develop stakeholder recruitment strategies, including strategies to involve non-traditional public engagement participants. For Phase 2 and Phase 3, the Clear Vision Board will appoint a Summit Coordinating Committee of 15 members, drawn from the Board and stakeholder participants, to coordinate the stakeholder engagement process and action plan implementation.

Key project objectives include:

– Train 150-200 stakeholder and action team participants in core relational problem solving skills

– Include active participation of lower income community members

– Integrate digital and mobile engagement applications with face to face deliberation

– Create public leadership opportunities in both traditional and citizen led settings

– Empower up to six action teams to develop and implement action strategies

Project Phases

The Poverty Summit includes three phases:

1. Pre-Planning (March-September 2016)

Key tasks include:

    • Secure project funding
    • Complete logistics and facilities planning
    • Complete final design of stakeholder engagement and action team implementation
    • Complete stakeholder analysis to identify and recruit 150-200 participants reflecting the diversity of community organizations, demographic, and economic experiences.
    • Identify specific recruitment strategies to expand active participation of lower income and impacted populations in the public engagement process
    • Complete a summit technology plan to guide the use of social media, digital applications, and the Clear Vision website during the summit process

2. Stakeholder Engagement (September 2016-March 2017)

Key tasks include:

    • Compile and make available a broad array of data regarding poverty in Eau Claire County
    • Recruit a diverse mix of community stakeholders
    • Use social media and digital technologies to engage the broader Eau Claire County community
    • Recruit and train Clear Vision coaches to support Summit action teams
    • Convene a series of seven community stakeholder engagement work sessions
    • Organize stakeholder action teams to address community poverty priorities
    • Train all action team participants in Clear Vision relational problem solving skills
    • Prepare 5-year action plans for each of the community poverty priorities

Stakeholder Engagement Schedule

The stakeholder engagement phase includes a series of three-hour public meetings held approximately every three weeks beginning in October 2016 and concluding in March 2017. The projected stakeholder meeting schedule includes seven sessions:

Oct 6 2016 Session 1: Kickoff, Project Overview, and Snapshot of Poverty

Oct 27 2016 Session 2: Community Poverty Issues and Possibilities

Nov 10 2016 Session 3: Select Priority Issues and Organize Action Teams

Dec 1 2016 Session 4: Skill Training and Action Team Planning

Jan 19 2017 Session 5: Action Team Planning

Feb 9 2017 Session 6: Action Team Planning

Mar 9 2017 Session 7: Action Team Coordination and Implementation Scheduling

3. Implementation (March 2017-December 2018)

Key tasks include:

    • Focus on implementation of action plans
    • Support Summit action teams in building community connections and relational power to fund and implement action plans
    • Monitor, fine-tune, and adjust action plans
    • Evaluate and celebrate achievements


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Poverty Summit Community Contributors

Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation

City of Altoona

City of Eau Claire

City-County Health Department

Eau Claire Area School District

Eau Claire Community Foundation

Eau Claire County

Eau Claire Transit

Grace Lutheran Church

Hand In Hand Child Care

Leadership Eau Claire

Market & Johnson

Marshfield Clinic

Mayo Clinic Health System


Royal Credit Union

Sacred Heart Hospital

Student Transit

Tim Abraham Photography

US Bank

United Way of Greater Chippewa Valley

Xcel Energy

* The Eau Claire County Poverty Summit is made possible in part by a grant from the Innovations in American Government Award, a program of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.