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We the People

Monday, September 1, 1997

In cooperation with other conservative organizations, The Heritage Foundation holds monthly fundraisers for private civic groups that aid the needy more effectively than does the District of Columbia government. Our "Breakfast for Champions" series has so far raised more than $15,000 for six groups.

Our first event was for the Washington Scholarship Fund, a privately financed school-voucher program that enables 300 low-income children to flee dead-end D.C. public schools for the religious or secular private school of their choice. The money we raised will fund three half-tuition scholarships.

Breakfast for Champions financed five months of utilities for Hannah Hawkins's Children of Mine, an after-school program in the violent neighborhood of Anacostia that provides 65 children from troubled families a safe environment for homework, hot food, and Bible study. Hawkins has refused to take money from the government ever since she participated in a D.C. food program and was told she was not allowed to feed hungry children at 3 in the afternoon or give them leftovers as they headed home.

Through other fundraisers, Breakfast for Champions has also financed: pregnancy testing and life-affirming literature for 600 women at the Capitol Hill Crisis Pregnancy Center; 22 walkie-talkies for the Metro Orange Coalition¸ the umbrella group for the brave men and women (mostly women) who are driving drug dealers out of their neighborhoods; pastoral care and a camp experience for the child of a D.C. prison inmate as part of the Prison Fellowship Ministries' Angel Tree program; and summer transportation for 60 participants in The Fishing School, a program run by ex-policeman Tom Lewis, a substitute father who teaches rocketry, dance, gardening, personal responsibility, and, yes, fishing to fatherless children.


We encourage members of Congress to hold similar fundraisers
for effective poverty-fighters in their own districts.


As this issue went to press, we were preparing a fundraiser for Clean and Sober Streets, a no-nonsense, "one-strike-and-you're-out" drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that turns around the lives of homeless addicts without taking a dime of government money. We are still accepting donations of $25 (or more) for any of these worthy organizations.

Our goal in hosting these fundraisers is not only to raise money but also to generate publicity and future fundraising opportunities for effective civic groups that fight poverty through conservative principles. Here are some results of our efforts:

  • After we held an event for the Washington Scholarship Fund, House Majority Leader Dick Armey invited some of his top donors to a $1,100-per-head fundraiser of his own, where he raised more than $100,000 for the WSF. Speaker Newt Gingrich and D.C.'s congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton jointly spoke at a graduation ceremony for all Washington Scholarship Fund eighth-graders last June.
  • The publicity generated by our fundraiser for Children of Mine, including a front-page Washington Times story, led to a profile of Hawkins in Time magazine and an invitation to President Clinton's volunteer summit in Philadelphia. Six people were inspired by our fundraiser to volunteer weekly at Children of Mine.
  • The newly formed Capitol Volunteer Corps, started by members of Senator Spencer Abraham's staff, donated the proceeds from its first fundraiser to the Metro Orange Coalition.

The Heritage Foundation hopes to encourage members of Congress to hold similar fundraisers for effective poverty-fighters in their own districts and metropolitan areas. Speaker Gingrich, former Vice President Dan Quayle, Representative Steve Largent, and Senator Rick Santorum are among the political leaders who regularly raise funds for faith-based and other private civic groups that are outperforming government in helping the needy. Last April, congressmen Joe Pitts, Ron Packard, Mark Souder, and J.C. Watts visited and helped raise money for effective charities in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware. The Renewal Alliance on Capitol Hill is organizing similar trips by congressmen and women.

A number of conservative organizations, including the Acton Institute, the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, the American Compass, and the Pacific Research Institute, provide monetary or nonmonetary awards to effective civic groups. They have found that this is an excellent way not only to help deserving private organizations, but also to gather information about what works best in fighting poverty. Similarly, we welcome suggestions for groups that should be included in our monthly breakfasts.

For more information about Breakfast for Champions and the groups we have hosted so far, or to be put on our mailing/fax/e-mail list, please visit the Breakfast for Champions website or contact Leslie Gardner at (202) 608-6161 or gardnerl [at] heritage.org ().

To contribute, send checks (made out directly to the organizations you wish to help) to Leslie Gardner, Breakfast for Champions, The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002.