The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Delta Caucus Set for May 3-4 at Clinton Center: Energy, Literacy, Nutrition

Posted on January 12, 2012 at 01:44 PM

The annual Delta Caucus at the Clinton Presidential Center is set for May 3-4, 2012.

We have confirmed USDA Assistant Secretary of Administration Pearlie Reed–one of the highest ranking national executive branch officials who is from the Delta–and invited President Bill Clinton, Members of Congress, Gov. Mike Beebe, and nationally recognized leaders to promote job creation/retention.

We especially plan to focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, green jobs, education (especially literacy), and health/nutrition. The connection between job growth and education/literacy, energy, and health/nutrition will be the priorities this time around because we can’t cover everything in one conference, but of course a wide range of other issues will be covered as well.

President Bill Clinton has given excellent live presentations over the audio system each year and we always look forward to that highlight of the conference.

We have confirmed President Fitzgerald Hill of Arkansas Baptist College, an innovative regional leader in initiatives to promote literacy in our region, a representative from the internationally recognized Siemens Corp. that has done a great deal of constructive work on energy initiatives in the Greater Delta Region, and distinguished anti-poverty and hunger organizations such as Heifer International.

We will have grassroots leaders from all eight states of the region from East St. Louis, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri down the mighty Mississippi to New Orleans and east to the Alabama Black Belt.

If there are any major election campaigns in the Delta by this spring, we will offer opportunities for each candidate to present their program for promoting job creation/economic recovery.

We will provide more information on the agenda later; we are beginning to put together the schedule now. We have invited Gov. Mike Beebe, Sen. John Boozman, Sen. Mark Pryor, Rep. Rick Crawford, Rep. Mike Ross, Rep. Tim Griffin, Delta Regional Authority officials, as well as experts in the fields of energy policy, literacy, and health/nutrition.

We will have a somewhat different approach in announcements of innovative initiatives in such major fields as literacy and education, hunger and nutrition, renewable energy/energy retrofits/green jobs as well as other initiatives.

OPENING SESSION: Thursday evening, May 3, 2012, from 4:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Clinton School of Public Service.

FRIDAY SESSION: Friday, May 4, 2012, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library.

REGISTRATION: You register by sending in the early registration fees of $100 by April 20, 2012. Please make out the $100 check to “Delta Grassroots Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

After April 20, late registration fees go up to $150.

GROUP HOTEL: Comfort Inn at the Clinton Library, Little Rock, Arkansas; Please call the hotel at (501) 687-7700 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group to get the lower group rate of $82 a night for a standard room, for the nights of Thursday, May 3 and Friday, May 4. The deadline to get the group rate is Friday, April 20, close of business.

Many people may only want to stay for the one night of Thursday, May 3, because the conference begins at 5 p.m. on that evening and ends the next afternoon, May 4 at about 3:30 p.m. People can check out of the hotel on the morning of May 4 in the morning and store their luggage there, and then come back and pick up the luggage that afternoon after the conference ends.

There are also a limited number of suites available at $92 a night.

Energy: The Delta Caucus has always placed great priority on biofuels and other renewable energy, energy retrofits, green jobs, the great private sector work of corporations like Siemens, the energy ideas of President Clinton, Gov. Beebe, the innovative Home Energy Assistance Loan Program in Arkansas where energy retrofits are paid for by the savings in energy bills. We plan to showcase energy innovations more than ever at the spring Clinton Center events.

Health/nutrition: Unfortunately the Delta ranks at the bottom in most food insecurity and nutrition-related health issues. We are working with key anti-poverty and hunger institutions like Heifer International, Bread for the World, the Feeding America food bank network, USDA and others in working for progress. The USDA funding bill passed in late 2011 was mostly constructive in expanding the budget for food stamps (SNAP), school meals and most other USDA nutrition programs, but with the recession we still have a lot of work to do in this field.

Importance of literacy issues: Literacy is tremendously important and we need to act in fighting illiteracy in our region and enhancing awareness of this vital issue. We hear from local leaders all the time about how pervasive and disturbing the problem of illiteracy in the Delta is. Illiteracy exerts a damaging impact on virtually all other issues, from finding and keeping jobs to correctly following medical instructions.

President Fitzgerald Hill of Arkansas Baptist College is one of the leading innovators for the Delta in the field of literacy. One example of his innovations is the Delta Classic for Literacy, in which for one University of Arkansas Pine Bluff football game each fall, $1 is added to the price of admission, along with sponsorships that contribute funding to the Arkansas Literacy Councils to promote literacy in the Delta. The event raises funds and heightens awareness about our illiteracy problem.

In answering the question, “Why is a football game the vehicle for raising funds for literacy?” President Hill succinctly answers, “You cannot get 50,000 people to attend a chemistry lecture, but you can get 50,000 people to go to a football game.”

The proven model of success in the Delta Literacy Classic, held once a year at famed War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, should be replicated across the region. This is a relatively easy way of raising funds and visibility of this problem without red tape.

We have many universities in the region who have participated regularly in the Delta Caucus activities on a wide range of issues. Think of the funds that could be raised for literacy across the region if the following universities supported these efforts, either by holding a “Delta Classic for Literacy” football game just once a year in their local area, or for smaller colleges, supporting the effort by helping get out the word about them:

Arkansas State University Grambling State University University of Arkansas (for one of their Little Rock War Memorial games) LSU Delta State University (Mississippi) University of Mississippi University of West Alabama–best of all if the University of Alabama could take part Southeast Missouri State University University of Memphis Murray State University (Kentucky) Southern Illinois University

The more the merrier–there ought to be “Delta Classics for Literacy” in each part of the region once a year.

Local colleges could get involved by helping with the details and getting out the message about literacy in the context of the Delta classic game, as Arkansas Baptist College does in collaboration with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the Arkansas Literacy Councils.

The “Delta Classic for Literacy” is of course just one initiative among many that we will be analyzing and promoting at the May 3-4 conference.

We will keep you posted as we continue to put together the agenda. Thanks very much–lee Powell, director, Delta Grassroots Caucus (202) 360-6347