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No doubt, the pressing need for a living wage is one of the biggest issues facing the United States today. The drive for a $15/hour minimum wage has been a persistent theme in national politics for years now, and we've all become familiar with one of the main arguments used against it: that it will lead to lost jobs.

But as we're now learning, in those places where the wage has been increased to $15/hour, those job losses haven't necessarily materialized. Researchers at Princeton looked at a five-year analysis of the impacts of these wage increases at McDonald’s locations across the U.S., and what they found might just surprise you: today's MarketWatch has the details.

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With all the hurdles we've faced this year, there is an awful lot of negative news out there, and the first days of 2021 have offered little respite. But here at Billions Rising, bad news is just not in our wheelhouse. More to the point, there is just too much good news out there for us cover.

The people over at Vox put together a year-end look at some of the biggest breakthroughs of 2020–and why they were so important. Aside from the lightning-fast development of multiple Covid vaccines, a stupendous achievement in its own right, there were a host of other high-water marks over the course of the year: from big steps in Biotech to major advances in our understanding of poverty's causes ...

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When you think of the fight against poverty, a billion-dollar candy conglomerate might be the last thing that comes to mind. But as we celebrate Halloween this year, Mars, the 109-year-old privately held candy company, is actually working hard on the problem.

This isn't just good public relations, either. Grant Reid, the CEO of Mars, has made it his goal to make the company's global food-supply chain more equitable and sustainable, working with NGOs, governments and suppliers. His belief is that everyone working within Mars' supply chains--not just the employees--should earn enough to maintain a decent standard of living. And his efforts to curb destructive palm oil harvesting have reaped rea...

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we've seen a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. Responding to the needs of this embattled sector, public and private business leaders have invested in an emergency fund targeted to social entrepreneurs who focus on the world’s most vulnerable.

Acumen, a non-profit organization that invests in initiatives to tackle poverty, heads up the fund. Employing a radical approach divergent from their typical strategy, they use small grants and loans to create an immediate infusion of support for impacted communities.

Just one of the organizations they've helped is SiembraViva, a Colombian nonprofit that brings healthy food to people in cities, ...

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The abrupt transition to remote learning that has accompanied the Covid crisis is the single biggest change facing many parents and teachers as the traditional back-to-school season unfolds this year. And sadly, the strictures of remote learning are much more likely to have a negative impact on children in poverty, threatening to intensify the already glaring disparities between rich and poor students.

But as Devorah Heitner points out, there are solutions within reach. And although Heitner, the author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World, is cautious in her optimism, she also sees this crisis as an opportunity to reimagine our schools.

Read Heitner's thoug...

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Growing up in Shillong, India, Hasina Kharbhih learned about human trafficking early on. Bordering on Myanmar, Nepal, and Bangladesh, the area is deeply unstable, and plagued with the desperate poverty that breeds the widespread practice. At one point, Kharbhih’s father housed refugees in their own farmhouse.

“The stories remain etched in my brain,” Kharbhih says. “He did that as a human being and not a social worker....I understood what you can do for human beings.”

Her father's example proved to be an enduring one. Today, Kharbhih’s Impulse NGO Network has created an entirely new model to fight the problem, working with 1,000 nongovernmental organizations ...

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When Felecia Gaston founded Performing Stars of Marin in 1990, a nonprofit art academy serving the underprivileged, she began with no budget whatsoever. “I had no idea about fundraising, writing grants, doing all the networking, filling out the 501(c)(3)s,” Gaston says.

Fast-forward 30 years, and today more than 3,000 young people have attended the program--and many have gone on to achieve at a level they never thought possible. By making classes, scholarships and other assistance accessible to families unable to afford performing arts programs, Gaston opened up a new world to kids who otherwise may have never had the chance to participate in the arts.

One excellent example is John...

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After returning to work following the birth of her second child, Michele Liddle felt unfulfilled, and her work schedule was punishing. Liddle traveled sometimes three weeks a month, and still nursing, she was pumping breast milk to ship it home. Somehow, working while her kids slept, she managed to put together her dream company: The Perfect Granola. But Liddle's product wasn't the point: hunger was.

“We’ve never been about the granola," says Liddle. "We’re mission-first. The granola was something to sell to fuel my other ideas on how to fix hunger.”

And Liddle will evidently stop at nothing to fulfill that mission. She is part of the New York Farm-to-School Program, an...

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When Devin Nakano of Boise was only three years old, he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. At the time, his mother was told that the chances of her son living a successful life were "slim to none."

Miraculously, today Nakano is the founder of Y Stem and Chess, a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by teaching at-risk kids chess, math and computer coding. Nakano has been at it since 2017, and is just getting started. “It builds critical thinking, it raises your IQ, it builds math scores," Nakano says. "It helps you communicate, it builds self-esteem, the list really goes on and on and on.”

To read more about this remarkably gifted educator, check out the recent...

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When it comes to public policy, there are some issues that tend to be portrayed as permanent, systemic, just "part of the landscape". Poverty often seems to be one of these, sadly. But this of course is an illusion: like all social conditions, poverty is the result of specific choices made by governments, businesses and other powerful institutions.

There may be no better illustration of this point than the story being told in Canada right now. In 2016, the Canadian government began giving parents a small amount of money — a few hundred dollars a month — to help subsidize the costs of child raising. The amounts are very modest, but the results have been enormous: in just one year, ...

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