Sharing Personal Experience As Knowledge (SPEAK)

Poverty Action strives to ensure the public, the media, and decision makers get the story straight. By working with people with low incomes and people of color to share their stories, Poverty Action dispels the myths surrounding poverty, holds government officials accountable, and promotes media coverage to forward real solutions.


From Spokane to Port Angeles, Poverty Action’s SPEAK members are sharing their stories and showing a more realistic picture of what it means to be living on a low income in Washington state. Through the telling of stories, people are using the power of their experience change public perceptions of poverty and to pass policies and state budgets that address the needs all members of our communities.

But we need your help. Share your story and help lawmakers understand the issues Washingtonians are facing. Contact lara@povertyaction.org.

SPEAK members take action by:

  • Generating letters, e-mails, and phone calls to key policy makers
  • Meeting with lawmakers
  • Writing editorials in local newspapers
  • Testifying at the state legislature
  • Participating in media trainings and events
  • Speaking with reporters

Meet Renee Jones
We met Renee (at right) at an advocacy training we hosted at her apartment complex in Kent. After that training, Renee was motivated to join our MLK Day Lobby Day in Olympia, write an article that was published in the newspaper, speak at a press conference, and meet with her lawmakers.

“I had the opportunity to participate in one of Poverty Action’s events in Olympia that allowed me to meet with lawmakers. While I was there, I shared my experience living on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It was amazing to be able to share my stories with lawmakers. As a single mother, student at Highline Community College, survivor of domestic violence, and TANF recipient, I spoke out on behalf of the state’s most vulnerable populations.”- Renee Jones, Poverty Action SPEAK member

Because Renee and hundreds of other SPEAK members took action, in 2012 we prevented another round of deep cuts to crucial safety net programs. Your powerful stories and actions are what moved lawmakers to protect indispensible programs.

Join us in building a unified movement to educate the public about poverty and bring the voices of people with low incomes to the State Capitol.

What issues are we SPEAKing about?

  • Basic Needs Programs (TANF, Dental Access & Disability Lifeline)
  • Barriers to Reentry after Incarceration
  • Consumer Debt and Debt Collection
  • Child Care
  • Wage Garnishment
  • Health Care
  • Payday Lending
  • Immigrant and Refugee Justice
  • Access to Education
  • And many more