Peeling Back the Onion Layers of Poverty with Dr. Karen Bankston

You are a major part of the equation of breaking the cycle of poverty.

Karen Bankston Mike Sipple Talent Magnet Institute

Dr. Karen Bankston is the executive director of the Child Poverty Collaborative, and she has an important message for you. Poverty isn’t what you think, it’s not getting better, and it’s a system that is set to repeat itself over and over again without the intervention of companies and leaders. It is they who must help break the cycle of poverty and to do it will require innovation and compassion.

Listen to the Episode now:

  • The Child Poverty Collaborative has a unique way of looking at poverty: it’s an onion, and every layer is connected to the one before it. Dr. Bankston explains how her organization grew out of a need to understand why, in such a rich community, 1 in 3 children were living in poverty. She shares the surprising way they went about learning why and the answers they received.
  • There are so many misconceptions about poverty, from who is affected to why they are affected. Dr. Bankston takes us through a look at the real face of poverty, which will change the way you think about it. These working families have rent to pay, transportation to get to and from work, groceries, clothing, and other basic needs that must be met. They might receive aid, but if they go over a certain income level, it’s stripped away, and that income level is quite unreasonable for a typical family.
  • Mike talks about one organization’s revolutionary way of helping its employees not only improve their work ethic but also their families. This comes from the psychosocial issue of generational poverty, and as employers, we need to be more aware of how social factors affect people who live in poverty at work.
  • One problem a lot of people in poverty face is that, in their current financial situation, they aren’t able to afford vehicles and instead rely on public transportation. However, public transportation isn’t always reliable, so when they are late a few times and are terminated because of it, Dr. Bankston asks, ‘How is that just?’ She also shares some of the revolutionary ways employers are making a difference for those employees, including picking them up and taking them home. Think about how that affects turnover costs.
  • The average age of a person living in poverty is 9 years old. That statistic should shock you, and it should also child poverty Collaborativemake it apparent why the Child Poverty Collaborative’s work is so important. Dr. Bankston makes an important point that while many studies say that there are fewer children living in poverty, that isn’t necessarily the case. She goes on to make the point that these children didn’t choose poverty, and it’s up to us to help them break the generational cycle. It’s not just about today; it’s just as much about tomorrow.
  • Leaders and business owners are a major part of the equation of breaking the cycle of poverty. That’s a given. But why should they go out of their way and be innovative and compassionate? Dr. Bankston has two answers for them. First, we are our brothers’ keepers. And if that’s not enough for you, there are financial reasons as well – things that affect a company’s bottom line. Companies NEED people.
  • Bankston began her life as a child in poverty. She shares her heart-rending personal story and why the work she does means so much to her. She was able to rise above what life had planned for her and has become a celebrated figure in the push to end childhood poverty. She tells us what it was exactly that made the difference in her own personal journey.
  • “We may encounter many DEFEATS, but we must not be DEFEATED.” Maya Angelou

Links from this episode:

Dr. Karen Bankston on LinkedIn 





Article written by 2017 Women of The Year: Dr. Karen Bankston

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