State EITC Policy Development Fund


Overview
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Rapid Response Fund (RRF) was developed in 2012 as a rapid response fund mechanism to facilitate the quick dissemination of targeted funds to state groups engaged in key communications battles. The RRF is guided by an advisory group and administered by the Grantmakers Income Security Taskforce (GIST) and the EITC Funders Network in partnership with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Hatcher Group. To date, The RRF has awarded 29 rapid response contracts to nineteen states, for a total of $669,000 of support.

In 2014, RRF supporters discussed the potential for making slightly longer-term investments in targeted states to build public support for state EITCs. As this was a shift in funding style (from rapid response to longer-term policy development), this element of the work has been renamed to the State EITC Policy Development Fund (PDF). The primary purpose of the PDF is to support the communications work of state-based organizations raising awareness of the importance of a state EITC to the economic success of low-income families. Recognizing that in some states changing the public dialog on state EITCs will take a longer-period of time, multi-year support will be provided. The RRF will continue to make a limited number of awards as the need arises.

Program Elements
The PDF is intended to support the development and execution of EITC state policy work. While generous, these funds are not intended to comprise the entirety of a campaign or effort. It is anticipated that these funds will be part of a larger effort. The 2015-2017 EITC PDF will have several program components:

  • Southern Geographic Focus: To help maximize learning and shared experiences, the PDF decided to focus on selecting participants from southern states. The South was chosen because of the tremendous need to develop new and shore-up existing state EITCs in this deep-poverty region, to encourage peer learning through shared experiences, and the desire to work collaboratively with the vibrant community of local and regional southern funders. • EITC Policy Development Contract: While the size of the awards may vary, we anticipate making support available of about $75,000 per year for two years, in two to three states. Exact allocation will be dependent on the overall project plan.
  • Technical Assistance: Participating state groups will have technical assistance available to them from CBPP and the Hatcher Group. Participants will be required to work with these firms to discuss strategy, coalition building, communications, etc.
  • Peer Network: By selecting a southern regional strategy, the PDF hopes to build a peer network of policy and advocacy organizations from across the South to share learnings and successful strategies (including, but limited to those awarded PDF funds). We anticipate this taking the form of regular phone calls and an in-person meeting if funding is available.
  • Funder Learning Community: A learning community for Southern-focused charitable foundations will also be established to provide opportunities for funders to come together, share strategies, and learn from each other. We anticipate this taking the form of regular phone calls and an in-person meeting if funding is available.

Awards (2015-2017)
Three $150,000 contracts have been awarded to three states ($75,000 per year for two years).

  1. Georgia: The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute (GBPI) is launching a communications campaign to raise awareness of the value of developing a state EITC. This grant will help GBPI develop outreach and communications materials for key legislative districts, build new partnerships, organize meetings to coordinate partner organizations, publish EITC research, develop a campaign website to engage the broader public, and identify allies to write letters, tell stories, and energize the public.
  2. Mississippi: The Mississippi Economic Policy Center (MEPC) is growing their strategic communications around establishing a state EITC. MEPC will use this grant to develop a website devoted to information on a state EITC, produce factsheets for legislators about the benefit of a state EITC to their district, partner with nonprofits and advocacy organizations to develop a message that reaches multiple stakeholder groups, and launch a social media campaign highlighting EITC benefits. MEPC would like to see the state adopt a refundable state EITC set at 8% of the federal EITC that would partially rebate both sales and income taxes.
  3. West Virginia: The West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy (CBP), West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, and West Virginia Alliance for Sustainable Families are coming together to raise awareness of a state EITC. This grant will help CBP convene a state-wide tax coalition to articulate a vision for tax reform ahead of the legislative season and hold policy workshops, a policy symposium, and in-district community meetings. CBP will also lead a public information campaign with the assistance of potential EITC beneficiaries, religious organizations, the banking and finance industry, local businesses, and West Virginia Head Start. For more information, contact Ami Nagle at anagle@gistfunders.org or 202-379-2929.