Invitation highlights the impact of The Shriver Report, focusing the country’s attention on the one in three American women living on or over the brink of poverty
Washington, D.C. — Putting a face on the economic inequality in America, Julie Kaas—a preschool teacher from Tacoma, Washington—and Katrina Gilbert—a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, from Chattanooga, Tennessee—joined President Barack Obama at the White House today as he signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors. Kaas and Gilbert, both single moms, were featured in The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink as women living on the brink, and Gilbert will be featured in an HBO documentary that will be released on March 17, titled “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert” and co-executive produced by Maria Shriver and HBO’s Sheila Nevins.
The Shriver Report, launched last month by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, has sparked widespread coverage and a national conversation around a stunning new American reality: Fully 42 million American women and the 28 million children who depend on them live on or over the brink of poverty. The mission of TheShriver Report is to ignite a conversation about women on the brink of economic collapse, and offer solutions for progress. As part of its launch, Shriver briefed President Obama in the Oval Office on the report’s findings, and the president echoed some of the language from the report in his State of the Union address.
Within its first week of publication, this third in the series of multiplatform Shriver Reports shot to number one on Kindle’s Hot New Releases in Women and Politics list, had more than 1 billion media impressions, and reached more than 400 million people on Twitter and Facebook.
Kaas is a preschool teacher who is adjusting to life as a single mother of three teenage boys after her husband of 25 years left the family. Unprepared for her new role as the sole breadwinner, Julie turned to Washington Women’s Employment & Education for leadership training, “dress for success” courses, technology lessons, and community support. She graduated from the program during the summer of 2013. Julie depends on child support and the money she makes as a part-time preschool teacher, but she’s gaining skills and working toward a job that will give her the financial security and benefits she needs for herself and her sons.
“I dream I will have a job where I can make people feel important and where I will be able to earn enough to keep my home and support myself,” said Kaas. “Like anyone, I want to be independent, so it’s great to see the president recognize how important a decent wage is for so many people. I hope the rest of the country will follow.”
Gilbert works as a CNA at a local nursing home. She tries to work as many hours as possible and lives from paycheck to paycheck. Katrina experienced a number of health issues that she paid for out of pocket, and she struggles without a financial safety net. She is hoping to go back to school to get a higher-paying job to provide for herself and her three children.
“I live paycheck to paycheck with no savings at all, nothing,” said Gilbert. “There’s always something that comes up, like the car needs a tire on it, how am I supposed to get that? That’s $100 right there. There’s always something. I feel like I work to get a little bit of savings, but something always comes up and I can’t. If I was paid a decent wage, I could start to get ahead.”
Julie and Katrina are featured in The Shriver Report’s extensive photojournalism project. A team of seven award-winning female photographers led by Barbara Kinney crisscrossed the country to document a day in the life of women living on the brink. High-resolution photos of Julie and Katrina with captions are available at www.ShriverReport.org.
To speak with Julie, Katrina, Maria Shriver, Neera Tanden, The Shriver Report Editor-in-Chief Karen Skelton, or Managing Editor Olivia Morgan, contact Madeline Meth firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first Shriver Report, publishedin 2009,examined a huge transformation in U.S. history: For the first time, women had become fully half the workforce, and even more momentously, were about two-thirds of the primary and co-breadwinners in American families—truly the engine driving the economy. We called this new state of American affairs A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,as the explosion of women becoming breadwinners changed not just the economy, but marriage, families, schools, the workplace, government, health care—everything, including men. The following year, A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s was the largest study ever to examine the cultural, social, and economic impact of the Alzheimer’s epidemic, just as the nation’s 78 million Baby Boomers were aging into their mid-60s—Alzheimer’s territory. We reported that women were not only half the people living with the disease but also more than half of the country’s unpaid caregivers. A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink is the third in the series. For more information, please visit www.ShriverReport.org.
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Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)