How to Make a College Education Affordable

Access to quality post-secondary education is a key to the continued development of the workforce and the nation’s economy! As a nation, we need to continue to provide access to higher education for all people.  I believe it is unconscionable for the US Government to be making money off of the loans it provides to our students.Improving Student Loans | Kevin Griffin

I think we should continue the expansion of the Pell Grant program, along with increasing the maximum reward levels to proportionally keep pace with the rising cost of higher education is a good start.

Improvements to Student Loan Program

College education should not be free; it is something to strive for and a proud accomplishment for a student. My House plans to improve the Student Loan Program that will in turn provide incentives for students to graduate:

  1. Lock college loans at the current federal funds rate at date of issue.
  2. College loans will remain at that market rate until the student has graduated.
  3. Upon graduation, the interest rate for the loan will drop to 0.0%, provided the individual enrolls in, and stays current with, an automatic payment program for the loan repayment.

This approach makes education affordable, while encouraging diligent effort and program completion.

How to Break Down the American Incarceration Cycle

One important issue that is far too often neglected by political candidates from Democrat and Republican parties is incarceration rates. In North Carolina alone over $1,000,000,000 is spent annually on just housing, feeding, and keeping its prison population.  I think we should focus on reducing the incarceration rates, first in North Carolina and then throughout the rest of United States.

Lowering Incarceration Rates | Kevin Griffin for US Senate

Through my work, I have seen the good citizens and workers that so many ex-offenders have become.  What most people in trouble need is help, treatment, and aid; not incarceration.

In order to reduce the number of incarcerated Americans and boost the economy with a greater workforce, we must:

  • Removing Mandatory Sentencing Guidelines. Sentencing should be based upon proportionality of the crime as well as utilizing the sentence to promote social justice in the individual and community.
  • Creating Transition Programs. Such as job skills training programs in conjunction with state and federal departments.
  • Expand Drug Treatment Programs. This is important because we need to realize that incarceration is not a treatment for addiction.
  • Reclassify Marijuana. In 23 states doctors can prescribe medical marijuana to patients,but cannot legally study how it would affect their illnesses. We need to authorize the CDC to study medical marijuana and potential for decriminalizing marijuana completely.
  • Change Employment Screening Guidelines. It is necessary to change background checks for employment and potential discrimination and liability. Work to join over a dozen other states who have approved “ban the box” policies that forbid employers from asking applicants about criminal backgrounds

There is no excuse for why the United States has 5% of the world’s population but 22% of the world’s prison population. That is unacceptable. It is about time that America and her government begins to aid all of the citizens of this great nation, which includes helping those stuck in the vicious incarceration cycle of bad policies and procedures.

Through the steps outlined above we get begin to get back to more civilized and understandable incarceration rates, and rid ourselves of the gross injustice and failed policies that are in place now.

Benefits to increasing the National Minimum Wage

When asked: ‘Should we raise the minimum wage?’ My answer is the minimum wage should be higher to reflect more of a livable wage. A livable wage reflects the minimum income needed for a worker to meet their basic needs in their community without public assistance and is integral to the survival of individual families. Also, the economic activity that derives from employees earning a livable wage is a primary generator of the overall economic growth of the nation.

National Minimum Wage Increases | Kevin Griffin for Senate

Minimum Wage vs. Livable Wage

The current minimum wage across my State of North Carolina is $7.25 per hour. Using a livable wage calculator, it is easy to see how difficult it is to live on minimum wage across the United States.  The livable wage of Durham County, where I proudly live and work, is:

  • 1 Adult livable wage = $10.68 per hour
  • 1 Adult with 1 child livable wage = $22.31 per hour
  • 2 Adults 1 Working with 1 child livable wage = $21.14

It is my strong belief in the livable wage concept that led me to join the Durham Living Wage Project, not only as a founding company member, but also in service as a steering committee member for the organization. Through my work with the Durham Living Wage Project, I have seen the following benefits of a living wage:

  • Employers who pay a living wage see lower turnover, a more motivated workforce and increased goodwill of the community
  • Employees who receive a living wage have the chance to now move from poverty towards meeting the basic needs of their family
  • Low-wage earners typically spend their money locally, when they make more they are able to support local business, which creates more jobs and strengthens a community

I believe everyone who works hard deserves to earn a livable wage.

How the Black Lives Matter Movement Can Impact Equality

The Black Lives Matter movement has accomplished a lot in starting to call attention to the systemic, societal problems that exist today in Maryland, Missouri, as well as in North Carolina and every other state in America. We must continue to press back against the ingrained treatment of different groups unequally and unjustly.  Black Lives Matter | Kevin Griffin for US Senate

Prejudice inhabits many areas that need to be addressed:

  • Education
  • Equal Opportunity
  • Incarceration Rates
  • And many more

Through these different forms not only are stereotypes perpetuated but the growth of the individual is stunted. In my time living and working in North Carolina, I have done my best to pursue the destruction of these stereotypes and unjust treatment; the Durham Living Wage Project providing awareness and adoption living wages to people throughout North Carolina, despite race or stereotype. Also, I have partnered with StepUp ministries to aid homeless and ex-offenders in gaining valuable job-search and work experience, as well as various beneficial programs within AVANT Staffing.

All in all, I believe that the Black Lives Matter movement has pushed this weighty issue to the forefront of the American’s minds and it is not something that can be or should be ignored.  I want our representatives to work to pursue equality, justice, and practical aid for all individuals.

Deciding to Make a Difference for NC

Let me begin by saying that I am not just another career politician who sees running for office as the family business. Instead the knowledge, skills, and passions that lead me to my race have been cultivated through my lifetime of growing up, living, and working in the great state of North Carolina. Kevin Griffin for US Senate

Many people have asked what issues made me decide to run for office, and how my approach to these political issues would be any different. To begin, there are a myriad of important issues facing North Carolina and the United States.

The following three issues relate to the vast majority of individuals and communities in North Carolina:

  • Equality of individuals, education, opportunity.
  • Economic uncertainty exacerbated by non-functioning government.
  • Stratification/grouping of people focused on the individual instead of the whole.

It is quite easy to identify the problems, it is a whole other thing to be able to structure a plan that addresses them and begins to create a solution.

A plan to address these key North Carolina issues should include:

  • Quality education that is readily available to all. Meaning it is no longer based on social strata, geographic location, or economic level. Education must also empower the individual with tools to be successful in the community and marketplace. This creates a fertile ground for confidence, respect, hope, and a society that can move forward together.
  • Addressing the governmental failings.Key failings include a lack of transparency and individuals focused on grandstanding, politicking and getting reelected. Above all the politicians who have been making the government work for them instead of making it work for all of the people they represent.
  • Reestablishing the belief in America and her government that all people are valuable. We are still the great melting pot of the world, made more flavorful by the variety of cultures and people that become a part of our world. So the government must understand that all people are valued and the rights we hold dear are true for everyone. I believe that North Carolina can be a leader for many other states in this regard.

It is time to take action and take back the government for the people of this great land. We must work together to rebuild America’s rich tradition of accepting and growing all ideas, people, and dreams.

What to do About the Economy?

When talking about the economy it is important to make the distinction between the issues that exists on the macro level and those that exist on a more micro level. Both levels must be targeted if we are going to effectively right the economic flaws and issues that currently exist.

First, let examine the primary issues at the macro level. They range from unpredictability of the government in setting fiscal policy and budgets, to the recent financial meltdown caused by the housing bubble, to the volatility of the Asian markets, strife in Middle East, and financials struggles in the European Union. All of these are highly complex issues that cannot be completely solved through economic actions.  Kevin Griffin for Senate

I believe we need to grow our economy and individuals, both stateside and internationally through:

  • Charting the financial course of this country, by returning to the comprehensive budgeting system.
  • Negotiating favorable trade agreements, without sacrificing the individual worker or American Industry.
  • Leading the effort to promote peace, stability, human rights, and democracy throughout the world.

Looking now at a more micro level in the state of North Carolina, we can easily see the effects of the macro level reflected in the uncertainty of consumer confidence. This has been exacerbated by ever-increasing regulations that stifle small businesses such as, the lack of access to capital for growing businesses, the unemployment rates in the workforce, and the increasing costs of higher education and medical care.

My solutions for North Carolina micro level economic issues include:

  • Broaden access to capital for small businesses through a variety of ways, stimulating growth in the business sector.
  • This will create employment opportunities that will reinvigorate the workforce and economy.
  • Raise the federal minimum wage and index it for growth like is done for social security.
  • Make higher education more affordable and incentivized.
  • Tackle the costs of medical care by strengthening and streamlining ACA programs.

This is all simply a start to solving North Carolina’s economy, our nation’s economy, and creating a better tomorrow.

The citizens have entrusted their country’s economy into the hands of Congress and it is about time their trust is rewarded through decisive, balanced, and intelligent actions.

How Does Running a Sustainable Company Make Me a Stronger Candidate?

To really understand how my background positively impacts my abilities, you need to understand what it means to run a sustainable company. The performance and value of a company has traditionally been measured in a strictly financial sense, through the profit or loss that it generates.  While this gives perspective on the financial health, it does little to take into account the company’s overall impact.  To more fully quantify the overall impact of an organization, the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) method has come to the forefront of discussion.A_BCorp_logo_POS

In the simplest of terms, a TBL is a measurement of the social, environmental and financial health of an organization; its sustainability.  It’s the outward acknowledgment of the fact that, in addition to the profit it generates, an organization affects not only the community and people around it, but also the environment as a whole.

To become a Certified B-Corporation is to achieve the premier certification for all companies that are focused on the Triple Bottom Line.  The certification is administered by the non-profit B-Lab, based in Pennsylvania.  It’s a rigorous process that requires a thorough examination of all business, employment and outreach practices.  The testing is combined with on-site audits, and regular re-certification requirements, to make sure that each organization is meeting the levels of performance to which they have committed. I am proud to say that my company has been certified for 5 years.

But how does owning and running a B-Corp, make me a better candidate? I’m glad you asked:

  • The mission of a benefit corporation is to have a positive impact on the people and the planet. This is exactly what our government SHOULD be doing.  We need leaders who are focused on helping all of the members of our community, not just working to move up the political ladder. This change in approach can’t be accomplished through partisan politics, bickering and ideology. I believe that in the right hands any organization can become a force for good in the world. This has been true with my company, where we positively affect the community and environment through employment, outreach, education and sustainable use of our resources.  We can make it a reality in Washington too, by electing candidates that understand that our government should work for the people.
  • While running a B-Corp, I have gained a wealth and breadth of leadership experience that isn’t readily available to others. As a citizen, I know that what I want from an elected official is for them to have the ability to effectively lead, work cooperatively, and listen to the people to know what they need. These are exactly the skills I have developed by running a B-Corp. Because our mission is to make a positive impact on the people around us, the planet as a whole, and the profit of the company, I have had to learn how to keep those three things in balance. To do that successfully, I must; bring people together to focus on a common goal, to build teams of diverse individuals with sometimes competing interests, and to listen to the people around me.  It’s these skills that, over the last 14 years, have helped me to employ almost 2000 people in North Carolina, to work with area organizations to provide educational and career opportunity to the people of our community, and to minimize our footprint on the planet.
  • It has given me direct knowledge of the struggles of the people of North Carolina. In my company, I’ve had the good fortune to work with people from a variety of backgrounds, skills, educations and cultures. I have learned from each person how they have faced adversity, and what great things they can accomplish when given a helping hand.  These experiences led us to become a founding member of the Durham Living Wage Project, to focus on aiding veterans and their family transition out of the military, and to provide an internship designed to help people successfully return to work. It is also how I know there is more work to be done.

All representatives from North Carolina must always work in the best interest of the state and its people, ever mindful of how each vote effects the State’s triple bottom line. Running a B-Corp has made me a stronger leader, team builder, and listener.  It’s given me the direct knowledge and insight into the challenges and needs of North Carolinians, a perspective that is missing from career politicians.  These are the skills needed to bring change to Washington.  These are the skills that make me the best candidate for North Carolina.