End Poverty in CA Launches Documentary, Announces Caucus

Category: News

July 20th, 2023

Media contact: 
Abree Dominguez
Elle Communications

End Poverty in California Launches New Documentary Exploring “Poverty and Power” and Announces End Poverty Caucus in California Legislature

End Poverty in California led by Mayor Michael Tubbs, Special Advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom will premiere “Poverty and Power” and announce the launch of the End Poverty Caucus 

Los Angeles, California (July 18, 2023) -Today, leading anti-poverty organization End Poverty in California (EPIC) will premiere “Poverty and Power”, a documentary by Emmy Award-winning director Jacob Kornbluth that offers an intimate portrait of what poverty looks like, told by impacted leaders across California who are challenging historical policy decisions that create and sustain poverty. At the premiere tonight in Los Angeles, California Assemblymember and newly named Majority Leader, Isaac Bryan, will also announce the End Poverty Caucus (EPC) to bring together state lawmakers of diverse backgrounds and regions under a common purpose to advance anti-poverty legislation and build political power for the working class and others struggling with basic needs like food, housing, and healthcare.

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs is nationally recognized for creating innovative solutions to promote economic security and mobility for people living in poverty. “Poverty and Power” follows Tubbs’ next bold effort, ending poverty in the state of California. In the documentary, Tubbs takes viewers on a journey as he travels across the state on EPIC’s listening tour. From Antioch to Los Angeles, Fresno to Ontario, and other stops along the way, we meet people in their communities battling issues like environmental racism, incarceration and reentry, the high costs of housing and bad landlords, a lack of access to capital, and much more. These stories challenge the way we talk and think about poverty, and reveal opportunities for meaningful policy change.

“The struggles that Californians are facing in poverty are the direct result of past and present policy decisions that not only fail to meet the needs of everyday people, but in many cases actually make their lives harder. This documentary offers a glimpse into the lives of people who know firsthand what it means to struggle,” said Mayor Michael Tubbs, Founder of End Poverty in California. “To transform the neverending impact of poverty across California, lawmakers must hear from those who understand the issue the most, and adopt policies that are reflective of their needs, desires, and ideas.”

The documentary exposes how a broken system at both the federal and state level has created and sustained poverty, keeping millions of individuals, families, and communities from having equal opportunity and achieving financial stability. The documentary paints a vivid picture of how policy choices continue to trap people into generational cycles of poverty, and challenges the commonly held belief that poverty is a result of character flaws or a lack of hard work.

“We cannot change the way we legislate around poverty without changing the story we tell about poverty,” said Devon Gray, President of EPIC. “‘Poverty and Power’ is part of EPIC’s work to replace a false narrative about poverty that is based on lies and stereotypes, with an authentic one that reflects people’s real experiences.” 

To ensure that the approximately 4.5 million Californians living in poverty and millions more living on the brink are better represented and connected to their elected legislators, Majority Leader Bryan will announce tonight the End Poverty Caucus, a new caucus centered on ending poverty across California and breaking down systems that trap people in poverty, while advancing policies that will result in opportunity for millions. Even though the legislature has advanced important debates in the California Assembly and Senate, all too often those efforts have been siloed as just “criminal justice reform matters” or “housing matters” without focusing on each issue’s collective and systemic nexus to poverty in the state. 

The End Poverty Caucus will help lawmakers organize around key votes and issues, and build power in order to advance bold policy change. It will drive earned media and organizing strategies, and create platforms for lawmakers to speak directly with under-resourced communities throughout the state. Together, these efforts will drive legislative outcomes around safety net reforms; worker power; housing creation; post-pandemic wealth inequities; and second chances for those impacted by the carceral system. 

Majority Leader Bryan is also featured in “Poverty and Power” for his leadership in the California legislature that has highlighted the urgency of poverty and the impact of economic inequality. Along with Tubbs and Speaker Emeritus Anthony Rendon, Bryan formed The Select Committee on Poverty and Economic Inclusion in June 2022 to elevate the voices of those living in poverty and ultimately propose solutions to end poverty.

“Mayor Tubbs and EPIC have been incredible partners in the fight to end poverty and create equal opportunity in the Golden State,” said Majority Leader Isaac Bryan. “The best policy solutions come from listening to the people who are the most affected. I am proud to lead a caucus that is dedicated to doing exactly that.”

Additional caucus members include Senator Nancy Skinner, Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, Senator Scott Wiener, Senator Dave Cortese, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Assemblymember Matt Haney, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, Assemblymember Mia Bonta, and Assemblymember Luz Rivas.

“As one of the largest economies in the world, it is unacceptable that California also boasts one of the highest rates of wealth disparities, structural inequities, and poverty,” said Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (AD-14). “I welcome the opportunity to work closely with my colleagues — who represent a broad swath of regions & backgrounds — on reforms which acknowledge that California’s poverty problem is also a paid family leave problem, a childcare problem, a housing problem, and a criminal justice reform problem. This Caucus is an important step in coordinating the structural change we need in the Legislature with the narratives of those with lived experiences throughout the State.”

“I’m proud to be a part of this caucus, fighting for a better California for everyone,” said Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D- Orinda). “We’re just getting started.”

“Part of the reason why over a quarter of our state’s residents live at or below the poverty level is because of California’s failed public policies,” said Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D-28). “So our State Legislature must fight for California’s working families by creating equitable access to quality jobs and doubling down on what Californians earn across the board, particularly for residents from marginalized communities of color.”  

“I represent San Francisco which has some of the highest rates of wealth in the country side-by-side with some of the highest rates of poverty.” said Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-17). “I’m working every day to end this gap in opportunity, and I hope that this caucus will deploy the collective force of the Legislature to ensure that housing, safety net access, and pro-worker policies are part of our shared agenda to end poverty.”

“Extreme weather events disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities. Areas that experience extreme heat often have large expanses of concrete, less greenery, lower average incomes, and poorer health status,” said Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley). “Our communities deserve to have ongoing protection, and as Chair of Natural Resources, I am humbled to use my experience to advocate on the behalf of Californians in the End Poverty Caucus. I look forward to seeing the progress we will make.”

“I’m proud to have centered the needs of children and families in communities across California, this year in my legislative package, to ensure access to a continuum of services, from cradle to career, for families in our state,” said Assemblywoman Mia Bonta (D-18). “But it’s clear that we need to advance stronger policies that will coordinate effective, place-based ]delivery of wrap-around services for people most in need in order to make significant progress in the fight against poverty. I look forward to joining forces with our End Poverty Caucus to ensure that we strengthen our safety net and tackle the racial and economic inequities in our communities.”

“I am proud to join the End Poverty Caucus, where we have an opportunity to ensure California redoubles its commitments to address structural imbalances, such as, creating pathways to worker power, family-supporting jobs, fair carceral systems, and safety nets for all,” said Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose).

“California’s extreme poverty rate is severely harming our state,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-11). “Tackling poverty requires multiple strategies, including ending our severe housing shortage; ensuring people can both work and raise a family without having to choose one over the other; moving away from a carceral system that prevents people from turning their lives around; and ensuring people who are struggling can access our safety net, instead of slipping through it. None of these strategies is a silver bullet — we need an all-of-the-above framework, which is what our Caucus will advance.”

“Many state policies have structurally disadvantaged Black and Brown Californians, contributing to a higher level of income inequality in these communities,” said Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). “From restructuring penalties and fees to the creation of baby bonds for former foster care children and those left orphaned by the pandemic, I have repeatedly stood up for ways to reimagine how our safety net works for Californians. Although we’ve made progress through innovative budget investments and expanded benefits and services for lower-income Californians, the drivers of poverty continue to pile up. Our new Caucus is an innovative way to cut across issues and communities and center the voices of people most impacted by our structural inequities to drive the fourth largest economy on the planet to do better.”

“We’re in the pits of crisis; we need to make sure we are making bold decisions and this caucus is the audacity we need.” said Tia Orr, Executive Director of SEIU California. “As healthcare workers, domestic workers and fast food workers continue to be pushed to the side by structural greed — I’m proud to see a new center of gravity emerge within the legislature to secure inclusion for immigrant families, create paths to power and union membership for millions more workers, and partner with labor to fight for dignity & opportunity for all.”

“It is imperative that our elected leaders focus urgently on ending poverty. A state that tolerates this level of human suffering is not only afflicted by a poverty of economic opportunity, but is afflicted by a poverty of spirit, of moral fairness, and care for our neighbor,” said Joseph McKellar, Executive Director of PICO California.The soul of our state degenerates as we become more indifferent to the normalization of poverty. As pandemic aid dries up and inflation persists, families across California are struggling to afford the increasing cost of rent, food, transportation. Ending poverty is about putting our economy in service to people. We commend our state legislative leaders for launching the End Poverty Caucus, and Californians of faith and spirit are committed to both ending poverty and creating a new economy where all people can belong and thrive.”

“With the establishment of the End Poverty Caucus in the California Legislature, we have a remarkable opportunity to combat child poverty, dismantle the racial wealth gap, and champion economic justice and liberation,” said Shimica Gaskins, President and CEO of GRACE and End Child Poverty CA. “As an organization that has worked closely with the CA Legislature and Administration over the years to reduce the number of children and families living in poverty, we are excited for this new body to take up the mandate and work together so all of California’s children are valued and free from poverty.” 

Both projects, the premiere of “Poverty and Power” and the formation of the End Poverty Caucus, demonstrate EPIC’s unwavering commitment to policy advocacy, power-building, and narrative change–all of which are undergirded by amplifying the voices of people with lived experience. 

To stream “Poverty and Power” please visit: EndPovertyinCA.org/PovertyandPower/


About End Poverty in California (EPIC): 

Led by former Mayor of Stockton, California, Michael Tubbs, End Poverty in California (EPIC) is a nonprofit organization that serves as a hub to bring together local leaders, advocates, policymakers, funders, cultural influencers, and communities to reduce the number of Californians in poverty and to level the economic playing field. Through narrative change, bold policy innovation, and unique partnerships with key stakeholders and influencers, EPIC is working to create new systems that promote economic mobility for all, with dignity at the center. To learn more, please visit endpovertyinca.org and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.