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.

Chelsea Clinton Presentation on Women's Issues & Other Clinton Foundation Programs

Posted on December 15, 2017 at 01:26 PM

We would like to convey Chelsea Clinton’s excellent presentation on women and girls’ issues and other philanthropic, nonpartisan initiatives of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation in a live call-in at the Delta Caucus annual conference this fall.

She was introduced at the annual event on Oct. 20, 2017 by Annette Dove, Executive Director of the exemplary nonprofit TOPPS (Targeting Our People’s Priorities with Service) in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

In this newsletter we also convey the presentations of Director Dove and Ms. Crystal Barnes, a young leader and participant in TOPPS programs in Pine Bluff.

The conference program as a whole: in addition to the presentations by Chelsea Clinton and Annette Dove the program included Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Congressman Rick Crawford, US Sen. John Boozman, Alternate Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority Peter Kinder of Missouri, Congressman French Hill’s Chief of Staff Brooke Bennett, Dean Todd Shields of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas, and grassroots leaders from all 8 states of the Greater Delta Region.

This is part of a series of updates on the annual conference in Little Rock in the fall of 2017. A total of 131 people were there for all or parts of the conference.

Chelsea Clinton is Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, which engages in many beneficial programs in the eight-state Delta region and across the USA in such fields as opening opportunities for women and girls, health care including fighting the opioid crisis, school nutrition, early childhood development, renewable energy and other domestic programs.

A note on the Delta Caucus’ focus on women’s issues: The Caucus of course supports progress for all people, but we believe special attention to women and girls’ issues is needed for a variety of reasons, including the high number of households led by women in the Delta, the fact that women lag far behind in ownership of businesses, the problem of sexual harassment and violence against women, the fact that women are still paid only about 80 cents to a dollar for the same work as men, and the benefits to the regional society and economy of unleashing the full social, economic and political participation of women and girls.

Our region includes the Mississippi River Delta from southern Illinois and Missouri to New Orleans and eastward to include the Alabama Black Belt, which is economically, socially, demographically and historically similar to the Greater Delta Region.

Regarding a major development for Alabama and the nation that happened on Dec. 12, the Delta Caucus notes that US Senator-Elect Doug Jones of Alabama has a strong record on women and minority issues and we look forward to working with him for the community and economic development of our region.

Annette Dove has been widely recognized as one of the most dynamic women leaders in our region: In her introduction, Ms. Dove expressed her appreciation for Chelsea Clinton’s vital help for TOPPS when she was a reporter for NBC national news, and gave a report about TOPPS generating positive national publicity that proved crucial for the organization at a time in 2011 when it was facing serious financial challenges, as do so many of our nonprofits in the Delta.

This publicity was very helpful in helping the fundraising of the organization, which today is flourishing in the historic Delta community of Pine Bluff.

Ms. Dove said “I am forever grateful to Chelsea Clinton for giving TOPPS a lifeline of sustainability.”

Quick facts about the Clinton Foundation: Before summarizing Chelsea Clinton’s presentation, the Delta Caucus would like to summarize independently some facts and research about prestigious organizations that monitor and grade the activities of major nonprofit organizations have given the foundation exemplary ratings.

–Charity Navigator gave the Clinton Foundation a rating of four out of four stars, its highest grade;

–Guidestar gives the foundation its platinum rating for transparency;

–The Better Business Bureau concluded that the Clinton Foundation met all 20 of its standards for charity accountability;

–The Clinton Foundation enjoys an “A” rating from CharityWatch, a project of the American Institute of Philanthropy;

–A very high percentage-88 percent-of the foundation’s donations go to charitable works, according to;

–Forbes listed the Clinton Foundation as the 36th largest charity in the United States in 2016.

Please note these facts come from independent sources and not Chelsea Clinton or anyone affiliated with the Clinton Foundation. The fact is that they have received exemplary ratings from prestigious organizations whose job it is to be the watchdogs and monitor the activities of major charitable foundations.

Caucus Director Lee Powell pointed out that President Clinton has spoken to the Delta Grassroots Caucus conferences eight times either in person or by live call-in, “but this time around we have a little change in programming regarding which member of the Clinton family will be our speaker in Chelsea Clinton, who is now a great leader for the Clinton Foundaton. She has been very helpful to our Delta colleague’s great nonprofit TOPPS in Pine Bluff.”

Annette Dove said that Chelsea received her undergraduate degree with honors from Stanford University and then received a Ph.D. in international relations and global health from Oxford University. She is married to Marc Mezvinsky and has two children, Charlotte and Aidan.

She recalled the crucial help Chelsea Clinton gave to TOPPS in 2011, and cited the vital work of the foundation’s No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, which aims to inspire and advance the full participation of women and girls around the world.

Chelsea Clinton’s presentation:

Ms. Clinton said “Hello to everyone at the Clinton Center in Little Rock. I’m grateful to have this opportunity to connect with you. In particular thanks to Annette for the kind introduction, but even more for your remarkable, tireless leadership at TOPPS. I’m so thankful to have seen your work firsthand and hope to come back and visit soon.”

“I want to thank Lee Powell, Millie Atkins and everyone who worked so hard to bring together this conference of the Delta Grassroots Caucus and Economic Equality Caucus. I just want to thank you for all the work you do to bring opportunity and awareness of the ingenuity of the remarkable people in the Delta, who too often have been overlooked, left out or disparaged certainly through no fault of their own and deserve every opportunity that we could ever imagine.”

“I’m grateful for the chance to share a little bit about the work of the Clinton Foundation to move the needle on gender equality in the United States and around the world. I didn’t know I could care any more about the protection, the empowerment, the advancement of women and girls until I was blessed to welcome my daughter Charlotte into the world just over three years ago. Then her little brother Aidan was born about six months ago, and I found that I actually could care more than I already did.”

“I’m so thankful to have the chance to work on these issues over the years and I feel even an more deeply invigorated commitment to them now that I’m a mom myself.”

In noting some of the many initiatives that the Foundation has been engaged in, Chelsea said “I had the privilege of working with my mother in 2013 on the initiative called No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, in which we took on the ambitious task of looking at where we’d made progress over the last 20 years and where there was still more work to be done. We released our findings in The Full Participation Report online at”

“We felt strongly that having all of this data in one place hopefully would not only enable a more coherent, data-driven conversation about how far we’ve come but how far we have to go for full participation of women and girls.”

She said the data has been used extensively. People tell her frequently of the many uses they have made from the report, whether for educational purposes such as a high school research report, or companies where they are thinking that they want to see gender equality “as not someone else’s business but really an issue that is everyone’s business.”

The report can be found at and the Clinton Foundation website at The No Ceilings project is conducted with help from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The report has 850,000 data points collected in the 20 years since the Fourth World Confernce on Women in Beijing in 1995; to cite just a few of the important findings:

–The United States is one of only nine countries in the world that does not have laws providing paid maternity leave-the others are the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and Tonga. On the bright side, 75% of other developed countries now provide up to 14 weeks of paid maternal leave. (The U.S. is the only developed country that provides none.)

–While progress has been made, there is still a need to close the gender gap in the US workforce. The gap is especially wide in the technology industry, where women make up only a small fraction of the staff at leading businesses like Facebook and Google.

–Women earn on average 78.3 cents to a dollar for the same work by their male counterparts.

–The number of women graduating with computer science degrees has actually dropped since the 1980s from 38 percent to just 18 percent.

–There were 26 women who were CEOs of Fortune 500 companies; Women hold only one fifth of the seats in the US Congress, so America lags behind the international figure of one fourth of legislative seats held by women globally;

–From the global standpoint, countries that have invested in including women in economic, social, and political participation tend to have stronger economies and safer societies than those with restrictive or prejudicial policies against women;

–There was no percentage change in the gender gap in the global workforce;

–Worldwide, one in three women suffer physical violence in her lifetime;

–The number of women who died giving birth was reduced by 42% from 1995 to 2010, at 146 deaths per 100,000 births;

–200 million fewer women than men have access to the Internet; Only 32% of countries across the globe protect girls’ rights to atted middle ad high school.

–One quarter of brides were married before the age of 18.

Clinton Foundation health care and nutrition work:

Chelsea Clinton said another important Clinton Foundation program is the Health Matters Initiative, which works in Little Rock and many other areas to tackle the challenge of chronic disease. She said many people are still not aware that heart disease is the number one killer of women. The Foundation works to inform people about the health disparities that disproportionately affect women, women of color, and women of color who live in poverty.

She said that to have real health care improvement driven by a commitment to equity and equality, we will need to focus on those populations who are disproportionately affected by health issues. The Foundation has especially addressed Type 2 diabetes in Little Rock and elsewhere across the Delta and other areas that suffer from chronically rates of this severe health problem.

Through the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the Foundation works to improve nutrition for elementary and middle school children. The foundation works to help school districts realize that it does not have to be hard or expensive to make sure kids have access to healthy meals, recess and other physical activities.

Chelsea said “I went to Booker Elementary School in Little Rock not far from where you are at the Clinton Presidential Center, and I had recess every day as a kid and physical education classes multiple times a week. Today fewer than 10% of American kids have recess every day, and that is unconscionable. We know how important it is that kids are able to move and have healthy food, not only for their physical health but for their social, emotional, cognitive and intellectual development as well.”

Through the Alliance over the last decade the Foundation has been working to help remove unhealthy options for kids and get physical activity back in kids’school days.

The Alliance recently launched community focus project to reduce calorie consumption from beverages in the Mississippi Delta and Alabama’s greater Montgomery area by 20% over the next decade. She said that we know that preventive care to help people avoid getting unhealthy in the first place, prevent them from getting obese and reducing Type 2 diabetes is vital at the school level and the community level.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation emphasizes that healthier school environments are essential to give students the knowledge and skills needed to make healthy choices throughout their lifetimes. Studies have demonstrated that students who are physically fit and eat well perform better on tests, make better grades, and have better attendance and conduct in the classroom.

The Healthy Schools Program supports more than 20 million students by improving physical education, child nutrition, health education and staff wellness programs in almost 35,000 schools. This program receives the majority of its funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support schools in states that have the highest rates of obesity.

Erasing the “word gap” for lower income children in single parent households: Chelsea said that another area where she has become passionate as an advocate, a leader and a doer is raise awareness about the word gap between lower income, single parent households and middle income, two-parent households.

By the time children go to kindergarten, kids growing up in a middle income family with two parents will have heard 30 million more words than those growing up in a lower income single-parent household. But people need to know that it is easy for a parent, grandparent or care-giver to erase that gap. Just 15 minutes of talking to tyhem each day can make a major difference.

She highlighted the facts that 80% of our brains are built by the time we are three years old, and “we build a million synaptic connections every second in those early years of life.” Talking to kids and erasing the word gap in those formative years can greatly assist early childhood development and create benefits throughout their lives.

Chelsea said that women are at the center of nutrition, health care climate change and the other vital issues the foundation works on. They are the health care givers, the farmers, the leaders in their families and communities. She emphasized that everything the Clinton Foundation achieves is done through partnerships and listening to Annette Dove and people like her who are making a difference in their communities across the country and the world.

Chelsea concluded by saying that she was grateful for the Delta Caucus’ focus on equality, opportunity and partnerships: “Thank you for letting me be heard today, quite literally, and thank you for all you do in the Delta every day, and that inspires so many of us to do further afield.”

Annette Dove’s presentation:

Ms. Dove recalled that in 2002 she decided she wanted to make a difference in her community. She had worked in the federal HIPPY program, where she oversaw 600 families. She said that when she went into those families’ homes, she saw young mothers and most of them were teen-aged mothers, and “I saw something. I saw no hope.” But having been a teen-aged mother herself, “I knew we could change things around.”

She talked to her husband and said that we need to go back to the community and make a difference, provide services to encourage these women that they can do it. But in the meantime, her husband passed away and she began thinking about “OK, what am I going to do now. I have four children. But it was a call on my life, and it’s my faith that brought me to this level.”

So in 2002 she quit her job with the school district and decided to develop a nonprofit called TOPPS, Targeting Our People’s Priorities with Service. She said she wanted to provide services that were effective and their impact could be measured.

Tutoring and mentoring programs: TOPPS started off with after-school tutoring, then they started a girls mentoring program that was originally written for 20 girls, “but in less than a month we had 52 girls. Most of them were directed from the juvenile justice system.

In three years they had no repeated offenders, no pregnancies, and the kids were getting jobs during the summers.

Groups from Washington, DC asked them what TOPPS was doing to accomplish these positive results, and she said “We were mentoring these young ladies. It makes a difference when you have a strong mentor, first of all wo cares about young people, and will walk them through the process of being successful. They want to be successful and just need the guidance to do so.”

TOPPS now runs 12 programs in the Pine Bluff area and is in its 15th year of operation. Most of the funding comes from private donations. There is one state gramt from the department of education, but the fundraising is based on private donations from “people seeing the difference we’re making in young people’s lives.”

Feeding program: Another of the TOPPS accomplishments is its feeding program. In her local area, one in five go to bed hungry. TOPPS feeds 800 children in the summer and 400 in the fall.

Recently TOPPS received a call from one of its partners, the Arkansas Food Bank, to ask them to distribute emergency food boxes. In the previous month TOPPS had distributed 408 emergency food boxes, and many of the households are headed by women.

Job training: TOPPS job training program has succeeded in getting employment for young people. For example, this summer 20 young people who had been pre-trained by TOPPS in soft skills got jobs with the city. They received rave reviews because they had received that training in soft skills in the workplace.

TOPPS has a graphic department where young people develop skills in design.

Education and travel: TOPPS helps young people to educational travel, such as carryng 20 young people this summer to London and Paris. One of the TOPPS graduates did a research project on sweet potatoes in Ghana, and another young lady just returned from a trip to Japan and she is now a junior in college.

TOPPS program for helping to get students into college: The original focus of TOPPS in education was getting students to complete high school, but increasingly they have concentrated on getting people into college.

Through the DREAMS (Dreams Require Educating and Motivating our Students) tutoring and mentoring program, more than 100 students in the TOPPS program have now gone on to college. DREAMS is its fifth year and they are averaging placing 30 students per year into higher education.

Another young leader who works both at TOPPS and also UAMS is Raychelle Grant, who provided the very useful service of serving as the time-keeper for the Delta conference and did such a careful job that for perhaps the first time ever the program not only stayed on time but actually finished early.

Ms. Grant happens to be Annette Dove’s daughter. (By the way, Ms. Dove also stayed within the time limits for the speakers, as strictly enforced by her daughter.)

Crystal Barnes presentation:

Annette Dove introduced a young leader currently involved in the TOPPS program, Ms. Crystal Barnes, who is now president of the Pine Bluff High School student body.

Ms. Dove shared with the audience an example of the thoughtfulness and leadership of her young people: they were having breakfast before the Clinton Library event began, and it became apparent that a middle-aged lady did not have enough money for her family’s food at the restaurant where they were eating. Annette said “Before I turned around, Crystal went into her purse and paid for that family’s breakfast.”

Crystal Barnes said she is president of the senior class at Pine Bluff High School and a co-coordinator at TOPPS, a 501c3 organization that provides numerous services to the people of Pine Bluff and was founded by Annette Dove in 2002.

In speaking of the beneficial impact of the mentoring program for youth in Pine Bluff, Ms. Barnes said “As young women, we struggle with taking on leadership roles because we fear failure and censure. The mentoring program helps mold and shape young women into great leaders.”

Ms. Barnes cited the example of Ms. Brianna Allen, a former DREAMS student who is now a student at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She said Ms. Allen took on the challenge of running for Ms. Freshman at the university and she prevailed. Brianna Allen credits TOPPS for teaching her how to lead when she was placed in a position to do so.

Ms. Barnes said that through TOPPS “I have been granted the opportunity to lead and mentor young girls. I credit TOPPS for instilling in me the value of serving others and giving back to them the opportunities that have been given to me. TOPPS is an organization where you may enter as a follower but you will not leave as one.”

She said that she chose to take on the challenge of becoming senior class president at Pine Bluff High School and serving as co-coordinator for the TOPPS mentoring program because she believed she was thoroughly equipped to do so by her mentors at TOPPS, which “is birthing leaders every day.”

TOPPS is providing educational help with tutoring, reading and ACT programs. Barnes said that “While young women may face various issues daily, TOPPS shines a light of positivity to encourage leadership and education. TOPPS is one of the few organizations that alleviates the issues of young women.”

Caucus Director Lee Powell concluded this section of the program by saying that “When Governor Hutchinson goes home tonight, he’ll probably say to his family at the dinner table that ‘I had the honor of being on the same platform with Crystal Barnes today.’”