In 2018, the Poverty Reduction Work Group (PRWG) convened by Governor Inslee has worked to develop and help implement a strategic plan to reduce poverty, improve communities, and make needed progress related to housing, health integration, employment, and education. Poverty Action has played a role in developing and facilitating the Steering Committee, a group within the PRWG of Washingtonians with lived experience with poverty which advises the larger PRWG throughout policy and program planning. Since its inception in 2018, the PRWG has developed 8 strategies for poverty reduction to be accomplished over the next 10 years: 

8 Strategies for Poverty Reduction Infographic

In 2022 and 2023, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) partnered with Front and Centered, Statewide Poverty Action Network, People’s Economy Lab, to convene a leadership committee to use the PRWG’s 8 Strategies for Poverty Reduction to envision how Washington should advance equity in the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To do this, the Just Futures project partners brought together the Just Futures Community Leadership Committee, a group which included Indigenous, Black and brown Washingtonians, rural residents, 2SLGBTQIA+ people, farmworkers, small businesses, people with disabilities, and ministerial groups to develop the Just Transition framework grounded in these principles: 

  • Our current economy is built on the wealthy few accumulating wealth and power by exploiting resources and human labor. 
  • Governance of the current economy is maintained by oppressive systems including white supremacy, patriarchy, consumerism, and militarism. 
  • Our collective community vision is to transition to an economy that is rooted in democracy, self-determination, sustainability, and equity 
  • This transition will require us to center social and ecological well-being and collaborative governance. 

Combining this framework with community input from listening sessions, the Just Futures project partners and Community Leadership Committee designed the Cornerstones of Collaborative Governance for a Just & Equitable Future, a framework for economic recovery rooted in democracy, self-determination, sustainability, and equity towards shared economic well-being for all Washingtonians. 

Collaborative Governance, or Co-governance, requires the government to not only share decision making power, but also to facilitate the ability of communities to effectively participate in policy and program development by investing in capacity and infrastructure. The Cornerstones of Collaborative Governance seek to overcome barriers to connection and information sharing between community organizations and government agencies. They are designed to create a culture of identifying and utilizing the strengths and contributions of both communities and government agencies.  

The 10 Year Plan to Dismantle Poverty in Washington, published by the PRWG, states that “people experiencing poverty are the foremost experts on their lives and possess considerable knowledge as users of the systems and programs intended to assist them. Incorporating the knowledge and expertise of those most affected by poverty as well as sharing power and resources with them is essential to the design of equitable policies, programs, and practices that build a just and equitable future.”  

The Cornerstones of Collaborative Governance is the framework through which the knowledge and expertise of those most affected by poverty will be incorporated into policies, programs, and practices to build a Just Future in Washington state.