A lot of smart, well-resourced people have been trying to figure out how to reduce poverty in the United States. People have created and then invested billions of dollars in non-profits with the mission of helping people who are poor. They've created think tanks that study issues like education, job creation and asset-building, and then advocated for policies to support our most marginalized communities. They've written books and columns and given passionate speeches, decrying the wealth gap that is leaving more and more people entrenched at the bottom end of the income scale. And those efforts have helped. But it's not enough. Our country’s poverty rates haven't changed that much in the last 50 years and homelessness is a national crisis. Esperas is here to tell you that we have overlooked the most powerful and practical resource.
Here it is: people who are poor.
People in distress are not victims. Everywhere we go, we see people who are broke but not broken. Marginalized communities are full of smart, talented people, hustling and working and innovating, just like our most revered and most rewarded CEOs. They are full of people tapping into their grit to wake up every day, get their kids to school and go to jobs that don't pay enough. These communities are full of people applying their intelligence to stretch a minimum wage paycheck, or balance a job and some side work to make ends meet. They are full of people doing for themselves and for others, whether it's picking up medication for an elderly neighbor, or letting a sibling borrow some money to pay the phone bill, or just watching out for the neighborhood kids from the front stoop.
Here are a few of those people. The founders of Esperas.