Poverty Reduction

Poverty has many faces: Homelessness, unemployment, low income, income inequality, food insecurity, no health insurance, and public assistance. As well as low high school graduation rates, teen pregnancies, incarcerations, gender wage gaps, lack of affordable housing, no savings or assets, and much more. The test of our progress as a society faced with poverty according to our 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much, “it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”  

Poverty is quantified by statistics: 

  • Overall National Poverty Rate: 13.5% (43.1 million people)
  • Child National Poverty Rate: 19.7% (14.5 million people)
  • Overall Michigan Poverty Rate 15.9% ( 1.6 million people)
  • Child Michigan Poverty Rate 22 % (486,000 people)
  • Overall Berrien County Poverty Rate 17.7% (26,842 people)
  • Child Berrien County Poverty Rate 26.2% (8,917people)


These statistics reveal that the rates of poverty in Berrien County for both the overall population and for children exceed both national and state levels. The statistics for Harbor Country® show that a significant number of local households have all the earmarks of poverty:  

  • 10.4% of area residents have annual incomes of $15,000 or less.
  • 8%-15% are food insecure.
  • 369 households are headed by a single parent.
  • 304 households receive food stamps/SNAP.
  • 1,168 people are uninsured (13.8%).
  • 38.5% of the students in the New Buffalo schools are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
  • 52.1% of the students in the River Valley schools are eligible for free or reduced lunch.


The Pokagon Fund has committed to using its resources to reduce these poverty levels and contribute what it can to provide “enough” for the families and the youth in its service area “who have too little.”


Poverty Reduction Sections:

Food Security & Nutrition
Resources and Referrals
Job Training and Entrepreneurship