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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Direct Action Welfare Group Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations, Children & Youth, Human Service Organizations, Human Services, Leadership Development, Youth Development

Mission: Direct Action Welfare Group Inc. (DAWG) is a statewide organization comprised of public assistance recipients, low wage workers, and people in poverty. Direct Action Welfare Group’s vision is the end of poverty in West Virginia. In order to make this vision a reality, we advocate with low-income families for economic justice. Direct Action Welfare Group believes…. •Poor people of West Virginia can stand together as an organized community to fight against discrimination and the suffering of poverty. •No matter how poor you are you have a voice and rights as a human being. •Every individual should be treated fairly regardless of race, creed, nationality, income, sexual orientation, religion, gender, age, or educational level. •Access to services and assistance is a right and not a benefit •Everyone has the right to a good education including post-secondary education, medical, dental, and vision care, a job at a living wage, affordable childcare, decent housing and adequate food and clothing. •Every mother should have the option to choose to stay home and care for her children or work.

Results: We started as welfare moms, women meeting in the living room of a low income housing project and have grown to over 600 members. Not only have we been able to grow in size but we have been able to influence the way people in poverty are seen in West Virginia. Through our organizing efforts, DAWG has been able to win $8 million to stop cuts to our state child care and school clothing voucher programs; to win restoration of funds for transportation and pre-employment dental and vision programs for welfare recipients; to stop destruction of a public housing community in Charleston: and to win a state funded program that allows welfare recipients to stay in college and receive benefits. Our current work not only encompasses welfare issue but also the issues of low wage workers, teens, grandparents, Medicaid recipients, and others who experience the problems of poverty on a daily basis. In 2009 DAWG hosted a Leadership School, with the Poverty Initiative of Union Theological Seminary, which brought poverty leaders together from all over the world to discuss issues and to share knowledge.

Target demographics: Low income families throughout the state of West Virginia. Through our Teen DAWG program we focus on "at risk" youth throughout the state with a concentration on youth residing in public housing communities.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Our training programs directly impact over 200 individuals per year, our organizing efforts directly impact over 600 people throughout the state. Our Teen DAWG program directlyimpacts over 100 youth.

Geographic areas served: The entire state of West Virginia.

Programs: What We Do Whatever is necessary to ensure that people in poverty are heard and listened to on issues that affect our lives • Empower current and former welfare recipients, low wage workers, and people living in poverty by providing them with the knowledge and the tools to change their lives. • Educate current and former welfare recipients, low wage workers, and persons living in poverty on their rights and how to advocate on behalf of themselves and others concerning their rights. • Organize people in poverty including youth to provide a voice to be heard on the local, state, and national level. • Provide training, support, and advocacy to empower people in poverty to be heard on the national, regional, and state levels to ensure that they have a voice in the policies that affect them. • Organize people in poverty to become leaders in their community. •Provide a space where youth in poverty can organize around issues they are concerned with – our Teen DAWG program

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

Wonderful group of people, will help you in any possible way they can! Love y'all keep up the wonderful work!

Geri V.


Rating: 5

The DAWG organization has helped to learn about the WV Houding development Fund and I in turn has helped assist three people to buy a home, who was turned down for conventional loans due to limited income that is atpoverty level. It was fun and very informative going to and sssisting in homeowners workshops. Evelyn Dortch spent some of her personal time answering questions and being able to refer me to others who wo uld help me make some dreams come true. I highly recommend this non profit to do volunteer work.


Rating: 5

This nonprofit has helped so many folks who are marginalized to empower each others' voices. They work tirelessly to organize communities so that they can empower themselves to overcome the stigmas of poverty and recognize their own worth as human beings. Wherever they go, telling their stories, they gain support from others with stories to tell, and foster recognition that we are all suffering for lack of human rights and dignity in this country. The have been successful at overcoming sterotypes which disempower groups that are traditionally marginalized, and have lead with love, inspiring others to do the same. They have grown from a local organization to one that is recognized by human rights allies nationwide. They have provided support and solidarity to those struggling with oppression from the systems in place which do not respond to their clients with respect or dignity. DAWG has changed and continues to change that situation. I cannot speak highly enough of the work they have done wich spans all age groups, ethnicities and educational levels. They foster a unification of welfare parents and teens that would not otherwise be possible, and which continues striving to change the social injustices of the systems within which we all live.



Rating: 5

I love this organization. I have been working with this organization since I was I was a child. My mother is one of the founders so this group is close to my heart. They have done so much good for our state and nationally. DAWG is for poor people by poor people. DAWG was incorporated in 2002 but the women who formed DAWG had been organizing before incorporation.