The Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus (MDGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders throughout the eight-state Delta region, which stretches from southern Illinois down to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Annual Delta to DC Tour Is Aug. 30, 2014: Ferguson, Missouri, & Other Civil Rights Issues

Posted on August 22, 2014 at 01:41 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus praises the annual Delta to Washington, DC event led by Rev. Arthur Hunt and The College of Aspiring Artists and many other regional and national leaders, to be held Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC.

At the top of the prayer agenda will be concerns and prayers for racial healing in Ferguson, Missouri. The event also includes support and prayers for the Delta Grassroots Caucus, which is an enthusiastic supporter of these activities.

The tour celebrates the first year of the “next 50 years” after the historic March on Washington, as well as commemorating the 50th anniversary of the War On Poverty.

The leaders involved are committed to supporting and continuing the work of Dr. King and the civil rights movement today and into the future.

All faiths, persuasions, racial and ethnic groups are welcome at this event.

The tour originates in the Delta and includes participants from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and elsewhere in the region.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus and The College of Aspiring Artists have collaborated on a number of constructive activities in recent years, and Rev. Arthur Hunt and his colleagues were strong supporters of our recent conference in June, 2014 at the Clinton Presidential Library.

We would encourage especially all of our partners in the Washington, DC area to come out to this event. An itinerary is below so that you can choose which parts of this great event you are most interested in. All of the segments are excellent and we hope you can be there for as much of them as possible.

During the 12noon-1pm segment, “Prayers for the President Salute to New MBK Initiative,’ Lee Powell, Grassroots Caucus Executive Director, will speak briefly about our organization’s work for a brighter future in the eight states of our region of over 10 million people.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus would like to express our deep appreciation to The College of Aspiring Artists and other leaders of this event for including our organizations in their prayers.

There will be a segment on racial healing for the community of Ferguson, Missouri. The Delta Caucus’ mission area extends to the St. Louis, Missouri area.

During the noon to 1 p.m. segment, The College of Aspiring Artists Will Be Offering Prayers of Support for MBK-My Brother’s Keeper White House Initiative and for other Mentoring and After-school Programs aimed to guide the now and next generation of leaders.

Lee Powell, Delta Grassroots Caucus Executive Director, will speak briefly about the Delta Grassroots Caucus’ mission for community and economic progress in the region.

For those in our eight-state region who may be in the Washington, DC area that weekend, we encourage you to come out to this uplifting and great event.

Below is a news release from The College of Aspiring Artists and their colleagues describing the event, followed by a schedule for the Saturday, Aug. 30 session. We want to praise this event in every way we can.

Delta Grassroots Caucus.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Rev. Arthur L. Hunt, Jr., D.D. | 870.623.8179 | ceo@thecollegeofaspiringartists.org

www.thecollegeofaspiringartists.com www.feelthemovement.net

“MLK Memorial: 2014 Back to School-Back to God Supreme Day of Prayer, Purpose and Promise” Labor Day Weekend-Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 18, 2014 (Little Rock, AR) - As millions of American head back to school, The College of Aspiring Artists, (TCAA) have received their Permit from the Unites States Department of the Interior for Year III of the Annual Supreme Day of Prayer at the MLK Memorial and are planning a special day of prayer with and for spiritual leaders for concerns and advancements across the nation.

Concern for racial healing in Ferguson, Missouri is at the top of the prayer agenda.

This year, timed to coincide with Back to School and Labor Day Weekend, a special emphasis and time will be dedicated to educators and students of all ages who are returning to school. As the nation celebrates the ‘first year’ of the next 50 years beyond the March on Washington, on Saturday August 30, 2014, a set time has been ordained to return to this Spiritual Landmark. The event is scheduled from 10am-7pm.

The theme, “Back to School-Back to God: Supreme Day of Purpose and Promise,” challenges students of all ages to see the model of academia and spiritual disciplines exemplified by Rev. Dr. King and continue to put them forward. A special hour will be dedicated as “Prayers for the President” and a special hour has been added for “Prayers for the People in Ferguson, Missouri.”

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Nucor Steel: A Great Delta Success Story; August, 2014

Posted on August 07, 2014 at 04:28 PM

The Nucor Yamato Steel, Nucor Steel Arkansas and Nucor Castrip plants in Mississippi County are a major success story on many fronts. In addition to being the most efficient steel mills in the United States, Nucor has demonstrated a broad commitment to promote the community and economic progress of northeast Arkansas and the Greater Delta Region as a whole through policies that promote safety and health, and support the education of its more than 1,600 Arkansas employees and their families.

We all know about the serious economic challenges we face in the Greater Delta Region, but we also need to recognize some of the innovative, constructive organizations that are doing great work in the region today and helping the region progress toward a brighter future. Nucor is definitely one of those constructive organizations.

This is one in a series of profiles of organizations in the Greater Delta who are engaging in best practices and serve as role models for the future progress of our region.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Randy Henderson’s presentation on the Nucor success story at Clinton Library Delta conference, June, 2014

  2. Nucor accomplishments in environmental protection and climate change

  3. Nucor’s exemplary safety record

  4. Three notable examples of Nucor’s community outreach

a. Nucor aquaculture project for northeast Arkansas high school students

b. Nucor’s help for troops and veterans in Arkansas

c. Nucor’s aid for victims of the tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

1. Randy Henderson’s presentation on the Nucor success story at the Clinton Library Delta conference:

The Delta Grassroots Caucus deeply appreciates the support Nucor gives our grassroots coalition, and we would like to summarize the insightful remarks made at our June 12-13 Clinton Library conference by Randy Henderson, Inventory/Safety Coordinator for Nucor’s thin-strip casting plant in Blytheville in northeast Arkansas.

Nucor is the leading steel producer and recycler in the United States. Nucor’s three steel facilities in Arkansas employ over 1,600 people at an average salary in the range of $70,000 to $80,000.

Nucor’s generous support for education of their employees: At the Clinton Library conference, Mr. Henderson emphasized that at Nucor they believe that their people are the company’s greatest resource and the “core of success is through education.” Nucor offers each employee $3,200 a year for ongoing education, $3,200 for their spouse and each dependent is offered $3,200 a year for four years to help defray college tuition. The Delta Grassroots Caucus partners see this as a remarkably enlightened and generous policy and we agree that education is the key to progress in our region.

Nucor’s broader service to the community: Henderson said that the Nucor team provides resources to the community by serving on boards for constructive causes, helping the local area to grow through job creation and supporting education.

For example, five years ago Henderson and several other leaders in Blytheville went to Helena-West Helena to learn about the KIPP school that has enjoyed success there. They went with the mindset that they were going to work toward bringing a similar KIPP school to Blytheville–and in fact that is now a reality. Today, there is a successful KIPP program in Blytheville that is helping enhance educational opportunity for students in the community. Via a seat on the KIPP Delta Board of Directors, Nucor helps to steer this highly successful education program.

Practice of never laying off any employees: Nucor’s enlightened practice towards their employees is demonstrated by the fact that in their entire history, they have never laid off one employee at one of their steel mills as the result of a slowdown or lack of work. Even in the depths of the worst recession since the Great Depression in 2008-2009, Nucor made sure that all of their employees kept working. For Nucor, as well as for much of the economy as a whole, the financial situation has significantly improved today. The Nucor workforce benefits greatly from maintaining their jobs and medical benefits regardless of which way the economic winds are blowing.

Expansion of plants in Blytheville, Arkansas as well as at Louisiana plant: Nucor is a national company and generates economic development at numerous locations across the country. In 2011, Nucor invested 750 million to build a new direct reduced iron plant in Louisiana. The new facility, which produces a raw material used in steelmaking, created more than 600 construction jobs and 150 high-quality, high-paying permanent jobs.

Recently Nucor made a 115 million investment in their northeast Arkansas facility, creating approximately 200 construction jobs, plus 40 to 50 permanent jobs once construction is completed.

Job recruitment across the region: Nucor recruits employees broadly across the region. Mr. Henderson said at the Clinton Library conference that he works on recruiting interns in Delta communities such as Pine Bluff, and that just the week before the conference two interns had started to work on the beam mill side in Blytheville and four interns from Pine Bluff started on the sheet mill side. Many other Delta communities have people who have found employment with Nucor.

Great River Promise: Henderson stressed Nucor’s commitment to the Great River Promise, a program started by Arkansas Northeastern College that guarantees that every high school student will have the opportunity to go to college.

In partnership with Arkansas Northeastern College and other Mississippi County community leaders, Nucor is a key supporter of the Great River Promise. Students who attend four years at a Mississippi County public high school, graduate and gain acceptance at Arkansas Northeastern College, achieve 95% attendance and punctuality record, and have no drug or DWI offenses will gain a scholarship at the college. They are required to enroll for at least 12 credit hours per semester and the scholarship is for four semesters and three calendar years after their high school graduation. The program has been recognized as a major success and role model for other communities in the region.

Among the goals of the Great River Promise are increasing the number of high school graduates, the number of college graduates, creating a competitive workforce, keeping children in Mississippi County, and filling high-skilled, well-paying jobs.

Safety as the top priority: Although Nucor is obviously a great success story in efficiency and productivity, Henderson emphasized that the company’s number one priority is not producing steel, but rather assuring the safety and health of their employees. For example, each year Nucor holds a health fair in which the employees can bring their spouses for a total health check-up and evaluation.

Nucor partners with Lifesigns in Memphis, Tennessee, where they can go to get a thorough health evaluation. Lifesigns is a Memphis health care company that provides clinical examination services for corporate clients. Blytheville is located in northeast Arkansas and Memphis is a short drive away.

The Lifesigns clinic offers Nucor employees and other patients a prevention-centered medical home and a prevention partner for employer-based wellness. Lifesigns provides physician-directed testing and consultation to identify developing health risks. Follow-up care focuses on management of weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, pre-diabetes and other health issues. The Nucor partnership with Lifesigns is another indication of their forward thinking approach to promoting the long-term well-being of their people.

At the Blytheville plant, Nucor has doctors on site at all times, plus two paramedics and a host of emergency medical technicians and first responders to address any health issues.

Multiplier impact of job creation in the local area: In addition to a workforce of more than 1,600 people, Nucor’s presence results in a multiplier effect in the local area caused by several other companies who provide supplies or services to Nucor. Examples include Tenaris, a metal tubing fabricator; IPSCO, which runs high-speed pipe mills and other activities; JMS, company, which provides steel and processing services; Nucor affiliate Skyline Steel and other companies.

We know that as a major national corporation, Nucor has greater resources than many other companies, but on a smaller scale it would be very beneficial to the region if other companies could follow policies emphasizing workforce development, education, health, and a commitment to the broader community as Nucor has done. We are proud to have Nucor as one of our leading regional partners in working for community and economic progress in the Greater Delta Region.

We would like to provide further background information here about Nucor’s innovative and enlightened policies in productivity, research, environmental protection, safety and community outreach.

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Delta Conference Set Oct. 30-31, 2014 in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas

Posted on July 23, 2014 at 01:23 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus will hold its fall regional economic development conference in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas on Oct. 30-31, 2014.

We will have grassroots leaders from all eight states on job creation, economic recovery, and women and children’s special issues. The two nominees from both parties in the governor’s race, Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson, have already confirmed that they will speak, and we are inviting US Sen. Mark Pryor, US Rep. Tom Cotton, as well as the First District candidates in Rep. Rick Crawford and Heber Springs Mayor Jackie McPherson.

We are inviting the two candidates in the nationally watched US Senate race in Mississippi, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and former Congressman Travis Childers (D-MS). They may need to speak by live call-in since the event is just across the river from the state of Mississippi but not quite on Mississippi soil, but the call-ins have worked well in the past.

Helena is of course just across the river from Mississippi and easily accessible from Clarksdale, Cleveland, Greenville, Tunica and many other Mississippi locations, so we expect a strong turnout from Mississippi partners.

By late October, four and a half months will have passed since the June 12-13 Delta conference at the Clinton Library, so new issues will have arisen by then and we will also update issues that were covered at the earlier conference.

We hold two major regional conferences each year in the spring and fall, as well as daily communications by email, phone, website postings and smaller meetings.

Helena-West Helena is a historic Delta community is located in the center of region and involves less travel time and expense than alternative locations that were considered. We expect a strong turnout due to the convenient and inexpensive location.

Historic City of Helena-West Helena:

In Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain praised Helena as “one of the prettiest situations on the Mississippi.”

In the 1880s when he was writing that famous work, he reported that Helena was the second largest city in Arkansas and was “the commercial centre of a broad and prosperous region,” not only in the bustling cotton trade but also in oil mills, machine shops, wagon factories, and major investments in “manufacturing industires.” The community’s gross receipts of money, annually, from all sources, Twain wrote, are placed by the New Orleans Times-Democrat at four million dollars–a very high figure for a Southern town of that era.

Unfortunately, Helena-West Helena has encountered much more difficult times in her recent history, but there are signs of a comeback today from many new initiatives and we will hear from many of them in October.

Delta Heritage tourism is one of the sources of hope for a brighter future, and Helena-West Helena is certainly a leader on that front.

One example is the King Biscuit Blues Festival, which over three days in early October this year is expected to attract between 50,000 and 100,000 blues enthusiasts from all over the country and the world.

We seriously considered convening in the great city of New Orleans and will consider doing so in the future, but the greater travel time and expense of meeting there for the great majority of our partners led to the decision for the more centrally located city of Helena-West Helena.

Thanks a million to Helena-West Helenacommunity leaders–The meeting place is the historic and beautiful former synagogue now called Beth El Heritage Hall, which is administered by the Delta Cultural Center, whose director Katie Harrington will be working with us for this event.

We would like to thank Ms. Harrington and many other Phillips County leaders for their interest in and great help in many essential ways for this conference, including Mayor Arnell Willis, Ernest Cunningham, Cathy Cunningham, Delta Caucus senior adviser Kevin Smith, Phillips County Judge Don Gentry and many others.

BASIC SCHEDULE:

Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 from the late afternoon about 4:30 p.m until approximately 7:45 p.m.

This is an important substantive session with important speakers and it is NOT a reception. There will be some light food, although most people have dinner at one of the local restaurants when the opening session ends at about 7:40 or so.

Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Lunch will be served in the Beth El Heritage Hall meeting room.

Registration:

You register by paying the registration fees and there is no registration form to eliminate unnecessary paperwork.

Registration is $100 for those who have not paid your annual membership dues, and $75 each for those who have paid their annual membership dues.

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

For people who live in Helena-West Helena and have to work for much of the conference but can come to parts of the conference in the evening session on Thursday and the luncheon on Friday, we will pro-rate the registration fees to a smaller amount based on how long they will be there. We have many different operating expenses and the registration fees are an essential part of our budget.

For people who are traveling from some distance, they of course will be there for the whole two-day conference and will pay the full registration fees.

EARLY REGISTRATION ENDS ON OCTOBER 1; LATE REGISTRATION FEES AFTER THAT GO UP TO $150

We had major problems at the June 12-13 Delta conference in Little Rock with people sending in their registration fees late; in fact, some people have still not paid their registrations for a conference they attended over a month ago.

This causes problems for us and is not fair to the great majority of people who do pay at a reasonable time.

The late registration fees are the only incentive we have to get people to send in the registration fees at some reasonable time.

Registration fees are a key part of our entire annual budget and we could not operate without them. We are a private sector organization and do not receive government funding but are strictly funded by private contributions in registrations and a few sponsorships.

Hotels:

Best Western Inn: Please call the hotel at (870) 572-2592 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group to get the lower group discount rate ranging from $78 to $85 depending on the size room you request for the nights of Oct. 30 and Oct. 31. Many people just stay the one night of Oct. 30.

The lower group rate ends on Thursday, Oct. 9, so please make your reservation by Oct. 9.

THE EDWARDIAN INN: This is an elegant bed and breakfast in Helena-West Helena, set in a stately home built by a wealthy Helena cotton trader in 1904. Please call the Edwardian Inn at (870) 338-9155 and say you are with the Delta Caucus to get the lower rate of $83 for Oct. 30 and Oct. 31. Many people will just stay the one night of Oct. 30. We have a bloc of 10 rooms.

You will need to reserve your rooms at the Edwardian Inn by Oct. 15. After that they will probably not be available at all, and if so it would not be for the lower group rate.

KEY ISSUES:

While we certainly want to get an update from the candidates in the vital races for US Senate, governor, and US House in the First District, we will have only five or six political speakers as opposed to the unprecedented large number of 12 major political leaders at the Clinton Library conference on June 12-13; this means we will have more time for grassroots leaders.

The time pressure is always heavy and we emphasize a series of short presentations.

We would like to thank the gubernatorial campaigns of Republican nominee Asa Hutchinson and Democratic nominee Mike Ross for confirming that they will speak on Oct. 31 at such an early date.

We will keep you posted on other key speakers as they confirm.

Job creation and retention, workforce development, transportation improvements to create jobs and repair our deteriorating infrastructure, broadband access expansion, Delta heritage tourism, USDA programs for nutrition, agriculture and rural development, and health care for underserved areas will be among the key issues.

Disturbing high poverty rates for women and children in the Delta: The reasons for devoting special attention to women and children’s issues are that poverty rates in our region are alarmingly high for women–especially single mothers heading households–and children, especially African American and Hispanic children. Nationwide, single mothers have poverty rates of approximately 30%, while African American children have poverty rates of about 40% and Hispanic children of about 30%.

These disturbingly high national figures are especially bad news for the Greater Delta Region, with our highly diverse population including many African Americans, a growing number of Hispanics, and the percentage of single mothers heading households is 34% higher than the national average. The regional poverty rate is about 55% higher than the national average.

Overall, since the War On Poverty began 50 years ago, poverty rates for the entire population have declined from the abysmally high 26% in the mid-1960s to about 15% today, with the range in poverty rates fluctuating in the range from 11% to 15% over the decades after the major initiatives like Medicare, Medicaid, expansion of SNAP and other major nutrition programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit began.

Poverty rates for senior citizens fell from an alarmingly high 36%–despite the important and essential benefits from Social Security–in 1959 to just 9% today, with greatly reduced medical bills due to Medicare and Medicaid accounting for a substantial amount of the improvement.

We will have distinguished speakers on women and children’s issues at the Oct. 30-31 Delta conference. We are of course concerned about poverty for all segments of the population, but the facts that women and children have such disproportionately high poverty rates leads us to devote special attention to their issues, including:

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Massive Media Coverage of June 12-13, 2014 Delta Conference, Clinton Library

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 03:48 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus conference at the Clinton Library Great Hall on June 12-13, 2014 included over 150 grassroots leaders from the eight-state region who were there for parts or all of the conference, presentations by President Bill Clinton, Gov. Mike Beebe, Sen. Mark Pryor, Rep. Tom Cotton, gubernatorial candidates Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson, Congressional candidates for three contested US House races, and a series of distinguished speakers on women and children’s issues in the region.

Annette Dove, executive director of the exemplary TOPPS (Targeting Our People’s Priorities with Service) in Pine Bluff, Arkansas was awarded the Delta Nonprofit Leadership Award and spoke on the program right after President Clinton.

There was extensive media coverage, and rather than have the Delta Caucus leaders give our opinion of the conference, we thought it would be more interesting to send several examples of the massive media reports, which included:

–There were 40 television and radio reports in Arkansas on June 12-13 and a few more over the weekend as indicated by our state-wide news service in that state, including ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates in Little Rock, who sent feeds to their affiliates in northwest Arkansas and northeast Arkansas;

–Memphis, New Orleans and other television stations picked up some of the reports;

–Four articles in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas’ largest newspaper, including one on the front page of Section 1A and another on the front page of the Arkansas section;

–At least four articles by the Associated Press, which as always were disseminated in many other states;

–Four articles by the Arkansas news bureau, which is part of the Stephens media chain;

–A series of in-depth articles by Talk Business, most of them by Roby Brock;

–Arkansas public radio, KUAR, broadcast a series of reports;

–Many smaller media outlets in the region published reports.

The subjects that were most widely reported were:

–Gubernatorial candidates Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson’s comments on economic development, Arkansas’ private option health care plan, education and related issues;

–President Clinton expressed appreciation for the Delta Grassroots Caucus’ advocacy for the region’s advancement, and emphasized the importance of SNAP, school meals and other nutrition programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as the private sector in working for community and economic progress;

–The hotly contested House races and presentations by former FEMA Director and Democratic Fourth District nominee James Lee Witt; state Rep. and Republican Fourth District nominee Bruce Westerman;

–Mayor Patrick Henry Hays, Democratic nominee for the Second District, and French Hill, former high-level Presidential appointee, banker and Second District Republican nominee;

–US Rep. Rick Crawford, R-First District; and Democratic challenger Mayor Jackie McPherson of Heber Springs;

–US Rep. Tom Cotton’s controversial statements calling for major cuts in the SNAP nutrition program and for the abolition of the Delta Regional Authority, and the rebuttal by Sen. Mark Pryor in supporting those programs. (Note: the Delta Caucus does not make endorsements in elections, but we do take positions on vital specific issues and as an organization the Delta Caucus has been on record before, during and after this conference as strongly supporting the USDA nutrition programs as well as the DRA);

–Gov. Mike Beebe spoke about Arkansas’ innovative private option health care plan for expanding Medicaid; in a notable display of bipartisanship, Republican state Sen. David Sanders of Arkansas praised Gov. Beebe’s position and emphasized how legislators from both parties had joined together for this major health care reform.

–The conference generated literally hundreds of media reports, so we just include five of the most interesting examples below.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Appreciation for Sponsors for June 12-13, 2014 Delta conference at the Clinton Library

II. “Former President Clinton Makes the Case for Government Involvement in the Delta,” by Jacob Kauffman, KUAR Arkansas public radio, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, June 13, 2014

III. “Candidates Discuss Issues with Delta Group,” by John Lyon, June 12, 2014, Arkansas News Bureau

IV. “Candidates Discuss Social Security, Health Care, Minimum Wage,” by John Lyon, June 13, 2014, Arkansas News Bureau”

V. “Pryor Tells Group that Priorities are the Same,” by Roby Brock, Talk Business, June 14, 2014

VI. “Hutchinson, Ross Answer Delta Group Questions on Vision for Future,” by Roby Brock, Talk Business, June 13, 2014

SPONSORS

LEAD SPONSOR

Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, Blytheville, Arkansas

MAJOR CO-SPONSORS

Housing Assistance Council, Washington, DC

Heifer International Seeds of Change Initiative

Southern Bancorp

Mississippi County AR Economic Opportunity Commission

McGehee Industrial Foundation

Kay Goss, Author: Mr. Chairman: The Life and Legacy of Wilbur D. Mills; and Chair, University of Arkansas J. William Fulbright College Fundraising Campaign for 2020

Hope Enterprise Corporation, based in Jackson, Mississippi, active across the region

SPONSORS

First State Bank & Trust, Caruthersville, Missouri

University of West Alabama, Livingston, Alabama

Harvey Joe Sanner, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas

Sen. Charlie Cole Chaffin

Rep. Mark McElroy

Dumas Chamber of Commerce

Southeast Missouri Grassroots Partners

AvanTech Services LLC, Marion, Arkansas

Lincoln County Industrial Foundation

DELTA GRASSROOTS CAUCUS PARTNERS

Last but not least, we would like to thank the literally hundreds of grassroots partners across the eight states, the Washington, DC area and elsewhere who made small to medium-sized contributions in the form of annual membership dues and/or registration fees for $150, $125, $100, $50 and $25. For a grassroots regional coalition, it is important to have a diversified funding base of large numbers of modest contributions. They add up to a large amount and we could not do our work without these contributions from so many supporters across the Greater Delta Region and beyond.

1. “Former President Clinton Makes the Case for Government Involvement in Delta”

By Jacob Kauffman KUAR Public Radio, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Former President Bill Clinton said the federal government is critical in developing the Mississippi delta region of the country. He spoke Friday to the annual meeting of the Delta Grassroots Caucus.

On Thursday Republican Senate hopeful Tom Cotton said he would abolish the Delta Regional Authority that Clinton had helped to create in 2000. Speaking via telephone Clinton made it clear he believes more government involvement, not less, is what the Delta needs.

“I think there is a role for government and it should be explicitly acknowledged. Here on the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty you hear people say it failed. It didn’t fail it just didn’t completely succeed.

There’s no question that child poverty is much lower than it would be if not for the WIC programs, the school meals, the SNAP program. Hunger is lower and child poverty is lower but it’s still way too high,” said Clinton.

Clinton claimed SNAP kept 4 million children from some of the effects of poverty in 2011 alone and that increasing development is the responsible way to reduce federal aid for food.

“The food stamp budget is going to go down as the economy comes back up,” said Clinton.

Clinton helped to create the Delta Regional Authority. It has never been funded to the levels outlined in its creation. Clinton also advocated for increased investment in broadband internet services.

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Delta Caucus Praises Senators Pryor & Boozman for Fulbright Program Funding

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 05:04 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus is delighted to praise Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ar) and Senator John Boozman (R-AR) as well as the full Senate Appropriations Committee for voting $236 million in funding for the great Fulbright Scholarship Program today.

This not only rejects President Obama’s request for a $30 million cut in the famous exchange program and provides an amount $32 million higher than the President’s budget proposal at $204 million, and actually increasing funding for the program from last year’s amount of $234,666,000.

This subject was discussed at the June 12-13 Delta conference at the Clinton Library. Senators Pryor and Boozman are strong supporters of the Fulbright Program, Rep. Rick Crawford of the First District expressed his support at the conference, and we are encouraging the other House and Senate members from all eight states of the region to support this excellent educational program.

Caucus Director Lee Powell said “This is a huge victory for the venerable Fulbright Program that has promoted education in the Delta and all 50 states and across the globe since Senator Fulbright and President Harry S. Truman worked together to create it shortly after World War II.”

“We could not have achieved this result without the vital support of our bipartisan Senators Boozman and Pryor, both of whom are members of the powerful Appropriations Committee,” Powell said.

Powell said “We want to emphasize that we support the Fulbright Program, the Young African Leaders Initiative, and the southeast Asian leaders initiative. President Obama had wanted to cut the Fulbright Program by $30 million to bring about increases in the other two programs, but our position is that all three are good programs, and we should not be carving a huge chunk of funding out of the hide of the venerable Fulbright Program for increases to the other two projects. We support all three and support level funding for all three.”

Sen. Pryor said, “I’m proud to report that the Appropriations Committee has fought back the President’s proposed cuts to the Fulbright Program. By giving our students the chance to experience the diverse cultures and history of other countries, this program is helping strengthen American ties around the globe. I will continue to work with the Delta Grassroots Caucus, as well as Senator Boozman, to secure funding to keep the Fulbright Program strong.”

Sen. Boozman said, “This bill is a strong show of support for the Fulbright Program. Not only was the President’s proposed cut rejected, but the bill’s language is nothing short of a full endorsement of the program’s contributions. It is very well-respected program and we have every intention of continuing it despite these very tough budget times.”

The Delta Grassroots Caucus commends the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the Fulbright Association that represents over 300,000 Fulbright Scholar alumni, and supporters of the Fulbright Scholar Program across the globe in opposing President Obama’s proposal to make a huge cut in this venerable educational program. Funding should stay level for the Fulbright Program, which has been a shining light for international good will and education for over half a century.

Here is key language from the bill regarding funding of “Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs:”

“The Committee does not support the proposed $30,466,000 reduction to the Fulbright Program, including the Humphrey Fellowship Program, and the act provides sufficient funds to avoid such reduction. The Committee notes that in recent years the Department of State has justified reductions to one-way exchanges with a specific regional focus on the grounds that the Fulbright Program offers bi-directional exchanges with greater flexibility and strong country and university support. Ye in the fiscal year 2015 budget request the Department proposes to reduce the Fulbright Program to fund region-specific exchanges. This reversal indicates a lack of long-term planning.”

In an important statement to Secretary of State John Kerry that is relevant for highly diverse, impoverished regions like the Delta, the Committee stated:

“The Committee directs the Secretary of State to broaden participation of high priority groups that have been traditionally under-represented such as youth and other individuals from rural and impoverished areas and minorities.”

Steve Reilly, executive director of the Washington, DC-based Fulbright Association representing over 300,000 Fulbright Scholar alumni in the USA and across the globe, said: “With a proven track record of success over seven decades, the Fulbright Program is the most important academic exchange program the world has ever known and a government-funded program that works. Who would cut a program that boasts 350,000 alumni, 155 participating countries, 53 Nobel Prize winners, 83 Pulitzer Prize winners, one Secretary General of the United Nations, an astronaut who walked on the moon, countless university presidents, hundreds of executives from Fortune 500 companies, thousands of teachers and university professors, internationally recognized artists, writers, scientists, and artists, dozens of heads of state, countless Pulitzers, and some of the world’s foremost leaders in every academic discipline and professional field? Fulbright is critical to our standing and relationships in the world.”

Todd Shields, Dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas, said” Senator Fulbright had a vision of turning nations into individual human beings and forging peace through education and understanding. The Fulbright Program has turned this vision into reality. It changes lives. It’s a proven outcome that deserves our support.”

Powell said “The Delta Grassroots Caucus is deeply gratified by this result. Delta Caucus Vice chairman, Rep. Mark McElroy and everyone else I have talked to in the Delta region and elsewhere supports the Fulbright Program. Supporters are not just Fulbright Scholars and those involved in higher education, but many concerned citizens from all walks of life.”

“Any education issue is especially sensitive for the Delta Caucus, because we see improved education as the fundamental key to a brighter future in resolving the issues facing our region” Rep. Mark McElroy said.

Many African Americans support the Fulbright Program, which has enjoyed major successes in sub-Saharan African over its history in countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria. Dr. Gwendolyn Willis-Darpoh is an African American woman who was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in Nigeria and is now senior researcher at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC, said:

“As a woman of color I support the Young African Leaders Initiative; however, cutting the Fulbright Program funding would have a devastating effect on the ability of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), community colleges, and other minority service institutions (MSIs) to provide international academic exchange opportunity for faculty and students. One of the most effective ways to internationalize the curricula across disciplines is through these cultural, global partnerships.”

This program has led to the creation of tremendous international good will across the globe for the United States of America since our own Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright worked with President Harry Truman in creating it right after World War II. It promotes education and is a major plus for American foreign policy. Hundreds of thousands of scholars and students have participated in the program over the years, and it has always been supported by Presidents of both parties.

President John F. Kennedy praised the Fulbright Program as “the great modern example of beating swords into plow shares” and promoting international understanding.

Powell is the author of a comprehensive, scholarly biography of Senator Fulbright, whom he knew well for over 20 years (the biography is J. William Fulbright and His Time, with a foreword by President Bill Clinton, published in 1995).

In his interpretation based on 17 years of research and many interviews with Fulbright, on some issues he was positive and on other issues his assessment was much less favorable, but the one issue where Fulbright’s record shines brilliantly is in international education and above all the Fulbright Program. Many Arkansans from both parties take pride that a Senator from Arkansas founded this great program.

Many other countries contribute quite generously to the Fulbright Program, so this is not just the USA carrying the load for everybody else.

This program gets a huge bang for the buck and when we have a program that is a tried and true plus for our country, we ought to stand behind it.