Monthly Newsletter

Be Careful What You Cut


Did you know we launched a new campaign to protect children from budget cuts? The Be Careful What You Cut campaign is grounded in three provocative print advertisements that make the economic case for protecting investments in children and drive home a clear message: “Cutting children from the budget now will cost all of us later.” For instance, in this ad the focus is on early education. The text says, “eliminating early education investments now would increase his chances of going to prison later by up to 39 percent. Paying for that prison will cost us nearly three times more a year than it would have cost to provide him with a quality early learning experience.”  It’s a simple calculation, really. Protect now or pay later. Check out the ads.

The new website has tools for you to help us spread the word and make the case for children in your community. You can customize the campaign for your social networks, raise awareness in your local media, ask questions in town hall meetings and visits with your political candidates, and get the most up-to-date news and action you can take to protect federal investments in children. Learn more and get involved to protect children over corporations and babies over billionaires.

Breaking: House vote today could push 900,000 children into poverty and 6.4 million children deeper into poverty.
Take Action NOW


Be Careful What You Cut: Cutting him from the budget now costs all of us later.


CDF National Conference

A lot happened last week in Cincinnati. More than 3,200 child advocates, nearly half of them young people, came to pursue justice for children. We learned, we acted, we healed, and we re-committed to create a powerful movement for children.  We are grateful to all of you who were able to attend.

If you missed the conference, we hope you will catch up by watching and organizing around DVDs of the plenary sessions. Our movement needs you to join in the pursuit. Here is what is available for purchase on DVD.



Opening Plenary, Part I and II

Why We Must End Massive Economic Inequality in America and Rescue Our Children from Epidemic Poverty, Unjust Budget Cuts and a Vanishing American Dream

The opening plenary session guided participants through our federal, state and local investment budget choices, the implications of pending proposals, and steps we can take to protect children and the poor in the richest nation on earth. Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink and vice chair of CDF’s board of directors, moderated the distinguished panel. The panelists reminded the more than 1,400 young people not to rely on the adults to advocate on their behalf. Income and wealth inequality threatens the future of the American Dream. “Young people: don’t wait to be asked,” said the Hon. Steven Horsford. “Take your place.” The Hon. Holly Mitchell from California co-signed that sentiment. “Get mad, get mobile, get active!” she said. Order your copy.

  • Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, PolicyLink; Vice Chair, CDF Board of Directors


  • David Ellwood, Ph.D., Dean, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • Robert Greenstein, President and Founder, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • The Hon. Steven Horsford, Majority Leader, Nevada State Senate
  • Heather McGhee, Vice President of Policy and Outreach, Demos
  • The Hon. Holly Mitchell, Assembly Member, California Assembly, 47th District, Chair of Budget Sub-Committee on Health and Human Services
  • The Hon. Mark Ridley-Thomas, Supervisor, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, 2nd District, former State Senator and Chair of California Black Caucus



Angela Glover Blackwell kicks off the opening plenary.  


Why the Middle School Years Matter for Black Boys

The second part of the opening plenary kicked off the Children’s Defense Fund and Educational Testing Service “Middle School Matters: Improving the Life Course of Black Boys” symposium which focused on closing the achievement gaps and improving life outcomes for Black boys and young men of color. Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone and chair of CDF’s board of directors, emphasized that we start treating young Black males as criminals and adults as soon as they become teens, instead of treating them as what they are--kids--who make mistakes. “They need someone to forgive them,” he said. Get the full opening plenary.


  • Michael Nettles, Ph.D., Sr. Vice President & Edmund W. Gordon Chair, ETS Policy Evaluation & Research Center


  • Geoffrey Canada, President & CEO, Harlem’s Children Zone, Chair, CDF Board of Directors
  • Ronald Mason Jr., President, Southern University System
  • The Rev. Dr. Robert Michael Franklin, Ph.D., President, Morehouse College

ETS’ Michael Nettles moderated the conversation.

Where Has All the Progress Gone? Are We Moving Backward in a Second Post-Reconstruction Era? How Do We Move Forward Again? 

These questions were posed to a panel of courageous civil rights leaders, a distinguished historian, and a key leader of the children’s movement in Florida. Today, the Black child faces one of the worst crises since slavery. The toxic cocktail of poverty, illiteracy, racial disparities, violence and massive incarceration is sentencing millions of children to dead end, powerless, and hopeless lives and threatens to undermine the past half century of racial and social progress. Speakers talked about how racism is still pervasive in America. It is a different kind of racism than once existed but just as destructive. An intergenerational movement is needed and it won’t be easy but nothing worth fighting for ever is. Order this extraordinary session.


  • Elaine Jones, Former Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; Chair, CDF strategic planning committee on mass incarceration and the privatization of prisons 


  • The Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, civil rights leader and Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
  • David Lawrence Jr., former publisher of the Miami Herald; president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and “Education and Community Leadership Scholar” at the University of Miami’s School of Education and Human Development and key Florida children’s movement Leader
  • James Lawson, chief nonviolent strategist for the Nashville Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

(From L to R) The Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Elaine Jones, James Lawson, Marian Wright Edelman, David Lawrence Jr., and Khalil Gibran Muhammad.


The National Imperative for Preparing All Children for School and Building a Public Education System That Prepares All Children and Our Nation for the Future

The greatest threat to America’s national, military and economic security and democracy comes from no enemy without but from our failure to invest in and prepare all of our children for the future now.  Tomorrow is today. Leading educators and other thought leaders of modern teaching shared their successes on educating children with a comprehensive continuum of care during the early childhood and school years. Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke delivered a video keynote address in which he made the case for investing in education and the big economic return for early childhood investment in our most vulnerable children. Order the DVD for the entire plenary session.


  • Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO, Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc.; Chair, CDF Board of Directors

Video Keynote:

  • Ben Bernanke, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System


  • Robert Balfanz, Ph.D., Associate Research Scientist, Center for Social Organization of Schools, Johns Hopkins University
  • Jonah Edelman, Ph.D., CEO, Stand for Children
  • Deborah Jewell-Sherman, Ph.D., Director, Urban Superintendents Program, Harvard University and former Superintendent, Richmond, Virginia Public Schools
  • Craig Ramey, Ph.D., Professor and Distinguished Research Scholar, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Jerry Weast, Ed.D., former Superintendent of Schools, Montgomery County, Maryland

Federal Reserve Chair Dr. Ben Bernanke addressing the conference.


Ending the Cradle To Prison Pipeline and Mass Incarceration – the New American Jim Crow

A Black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime and a Latino boy a 1 in 6 chance of the same fate. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. The toxic combination of poverty, racial disparities in child serving systems, poor education, zero tolerance school discipline policies, racial profiling, unbridled prosecutorial discretion, and racial disparities in arrests and sentencing are funneling millions of poor people of color into dead end, powerless and hopeless lives. This distinguished group share their thoughtful research and experience to recommend measures to replace the Cradle to Prison Pipeline with one to college and productive work. The panel fed into an interactive town hall discussion. This is a must watch for anyone interested in the New American Jim Crow.


  • Charles Ogletree, Jesse Climenko Professor at Harvard Law School; Founder and Executive Director, Harvard’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice


  • Michelle Alexander – Legal scholar and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness
  • The Hon. Patricia Martin – Presiding Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois Child Protection Division; President, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
  • The Hon. Michael A. Nutter – Mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors
  • Bryan Stevenson – Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative, Montgomery, AL
  • The Rev. Janet Wolf – National Program Coordinator and Director of Nonviolent Organizing to End the Cradle to Prison Pipeline, CDF Haley Farm
  • Ndume Olatushani, formerly incarcerated prisoner for almost 28 years; 19 years on death row
  • Preston Shipp, former prosecutor in Nashville, Tenn. and currently Disciplinary Counsel at the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tenn.

Michelle Alexander and Mayor Michael Nutter


Saving Democracy: Creating One America

What happens in this year’s state and federal elections could well determine the future of American democracy for generations to come.  In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, learn how big money could out shout the voices of the people.  Learn about the broad assaults on democracy with anti-voter laws, anti-immigrant laws, restrictions on collective bargaining and union organizing, a war on women’s rights, and obstruction of judicial nominations.  Share the Voting Rights Map of Shame, and order the DVD to hear this extraordinary panel and learn what you can do to help create “One America.”


  • Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights


  • Robert Edgar, President and CEO of Common Cause
  • Barbara Arnwine, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials

(From L to R) Arturo Vargas, Barbara Arnwine, Marian Wright Edelman, Wade Henderson, and Robert Edgar.


Building Personal, Public and Spiritual Will to Protect Children—Our Poorest Americans

This session harnessed the power and experience of powerful voices and stake-holders to build an action plan for protecting the smallest victims—our children. The panel emphasized the need for young advocates and organizers to get outside their comfort zones to build the movement to make a real difference for children. Order the DVD for this session.


  • Wendy Puriefoy, President, Public Education Network; CDF Board Member
  • Barbara Best, Director of Foundation Relations and Special Projects, Children’s Defense Fund


  • Lan Bentsen, Vice Chair, CDF Board of Directors
  • Jeff Johnson, Journalist, social activist and political commentator
  • Peggy Lewis, Assistant Professor, Broadcast Sequence Coordinator at Howard University
  • Fred Senn, Founding Partner, Fallon Worldwide
  • Kent Wong, Director, Center for Labor Research and Education, University of California, Los Angeles

Be Careful What You Cut print advertisement that focuses on investments that lift children out of poverty. 


National and Racial Healing Town Hall

Dr. Maya Angelou receives CDF’s first lifetime achievement award and delivers the opening keynote address. Watch her recite the poem "I'm a Rainbow in Somebody's Cloud." Plus, an extraordinary panel of courageous people share their stories. They have responded to racial strife, hates crime, violent loss, unjust incarceration and more to reach beyond their pain and pursue restorative justice rather than revenge. Learn, heal and be inspired with this DVD.

Opening Keynote:

  • Dr. Maya Angelou, who received CDF’s lifetime award for helping children Beat the Odds


  • The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, Ill.
  • The Rev. Janet Wolf – National Program Coordinator and Director of Nonviolent Organizing to End the Cradle to Prison Pipeline, CDF Haley Farm


  • Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's parents, and Benjamin Crump, the Martin family's lawyer
  • Vincent Harding, Ph.D., Chair, Veterans of Hope Project, author Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero
  • Nelson and Joyce Johnson, Beloved Community, Greensboro, N.C.
  • Clemmie Greenlee, founder, Galaxy Star, peacemaking organization working with young gang members; former prostitute and gang member who became community organizer/peacemaking leader after her son was killed
  • Kim Odom, Family Support Coordinator, Boston Public Health Commission and Boston Medical’s Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP)
  • Pastor Ronald Odom Sr., True Vine Church, Dorchester, Mass.
  • Ndume Olatushani, formerly incarcerated prisoner for almost 28 years; 19 on death row

Sybrina Fulton and Tracey Martin, Trayvon Martin's parents.


Closing Our Courage and Action Gaps All Across Our Land and Action Charge

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, honors social justice leaders who changed our nation including Ruby Bridges, Dolores Huerta, and Dream Act students Catherine Eusebio and Carlos Amador who risked deportation to fight for the right to a college education and to live and work with dignity in the country that is their home. This DVD includes the closing Action Charge by Marian Wright Edelman.


  • Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President, Children's Defense Fund - Washington, D.C.


  • Catherine Eusebio, Dream Summer intern working on building a stronger undocumented Asian organizing community, one of the leaders of the undocumented Asian youth organization, ASPIRE, Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education
  • Carlos Amador, project coordinator of the Dream Resource Center at the UCLA Labor Center, an active member of Dream Team Los Angeles, and a co-chair of the United We Dream Network board
  • Ruby Bridges, the first African-American to attend an all-White elementary school in the South; founder of the Ruby Bridges Foundation
  • Dolores Huerta, created the Agricultural Workers Association in 1960 and co-founded a workers union with Cesar Chavez which was known as United Farm Workers



(From L to R) Ruby Bridges, Dolores Huerta, Marian Wright Edelman, Catherine Eusebio and Carlos Amador


Two New Reports on Child Well-Being

The State of America’s Children® Handbook provides key national information in a range of areas, as well as state tables showing how children in your state are faring and how your state compares to other states in protecting children. Download a copy of the report.

CDF also produced two reports showing the gross inequalities facing Black and Hispanic children compared to White children, across all critical indicators of wellbeing.

Download "Portrait of Inequality 2012: Black Children in America."

Download "Portrait of Inequality 2012: Hispanic Children in America."



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