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One of the most telling conclusions of the 2010 Census was the nation’s poverty rate. Now at 15.1 percent, the poverty rate is at its highest since 1993. And according to the data, Athens-Clarke County has the highest poverty rate of any county in a Census-defined metro area in the United States. Here in Athens, more than a third of residents live below the national poverty line.

Poverty is no stranger to Athens, but there are many myths about poverty issues here that are circulating around the city. Just read the comments section at Online Athens for a host of misconceptions.

But, the abundance of fallacies about poverty and aid is a problem across the United States. For instance, according to a study conducted by the and reported in the Washington Post, Americans, on average, think we spend 27 percent of our federal budget on foreign aid and believe 13 percent would be an appropriate amount to spend. The United States, in fact, spends less than 1 percent of its federal budget on foreign aid.

The Global Poverty Project (GPP), an organization working to involve people across the country in the fight against extreme global poverty, has launched its 2012 U.S. tour, which began in New York City. Representatives will give an interactive presentation at 7 p.m. Feb. 29 in the UGA Main Library B-2 Auditorium. The goal of this presentation, entitled “1.4 Billion Reasons,” is to clear up the many misconceptions about extreme poverty.

“There are lots of people talking about extreme poverty, but there isn’t a coherent narrative or conversation around how we can end it within our lifetime,†says Hugh Evans, CEO and co-founder of the Global Poverty Project. “I wanted to work with a team of experts around the world to create a groundbreaking presentation that communicates how we can actually end extreme poverty within our lifetime, in such a way that anyone can sit through this 90-minute presentation and be equally compelled and challenged, but also raise a debate.â€

The “1.4 Billion Reasons” presentation has been viewed by over 11,000 people in the United States and 60,000 in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. “The best thing about the presentation is that it’s designed to be uplifting. You don’t go to the presentation and feel depressed or upset or guilty. That’s not what it’s about,†says Danielle Goldschneider, director of communications for the tour, “It’s about showing the real opportunities that we have to end extreme poverty and the exciting solutions that people can engage in.â€

Attendees of the event will be encouraged to participate in the GPP’s “Live Below the Line” campaign, which challenges participants to live on $1.50 per day for food and drink for five days. “It’s an act of solidarity with the world’s poor,†says Goldschneider. “Basically, it functions like a marathon. Each day you do the campaign, you get someone to pledge a certain amount of money for that day.†Proceeds from the fundraising campaign go to partner charities like the United Nations Foundation and UNICEF.

Each participant will have a personal fundraising page on GPP’s “Live below the Line” website, set to launch Mar. 1. For more information, go to