Summit aims to fight poverty in Miss. - - Jackson, MS

Summit aims to fight poverty in Miss.

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

They came from across the state to a conference room in downtown Jackson with a common goal and when they return to their home community, they will bring a fight against poverty back with them.

It's an annual low income summit where social workers and low income advocates hear from one another, examine new techniques and create more localized approaches in helping Mississippi's poorest.

Started 12 years ago by Entergy, in an effort to improve the lives of low-income customers, the summit is now one of the leading resources for advocates to find new ways in overcoming the state's poverty level.

"We all know that it's got the highest rates of poverty of any state in the U.S.," said Philip DeVol.

Currently about 1 in 5 Mississippians lives in poverty.

Regionally, poverty makes up about 60 percent of the Delta and elsewhere it ranges from 15 to 20 percent.

Philip DeVol is the keynote speaker and an author on poverty and says fighting it begins locally.

"What we're saying is here's some new ways of looking at it, if you can organize yourself differently and use some of our tools you would find your own local solution," DeVol said.

Whether it be through utility bill assistance, legal help or job placement, that's the battle ground Mayo Wilson says is important in understanding.

Wilson is the interim executive director of the Mississippi Association of Community Action Agencies, which is joining with Entergy for the summit.

"If Mississippi can help all of it's people to become more self sufficient it can help the entire state," Wilson said. "It's not only a moral issue but it's a social issue."

An issue which Wilson says can have ripple effects and for anyone in poverty, DeVol says lasting ones.

"It's not V shaped," Devol said. "Poverty use to be like, you're in, you're out, you use some of the benefits. Now, it's L shaped, you get in, it's really hard to get out."

Also during the summit, those involved took part in a poverty simulation designed to exemplify what everyday life is like for someone in poverty.

All of it is to help people get a deeper of understanding of the problem and embolden them to help.

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