140619_HER07_08Karen Robison

Age: 53
Hometown: Madison
Cause: Education for residents living in poverty

For nearly 30 years MadCAAP, an organization in Madison County, Miss., has been working to counteract the effects of poverty on the local community through financial education, emergency assistance, and computer literacy — now a critical component to finding job opportunities. At its helm for the past 8 years is executive director Karen Robison, who has magnified the organization’s focus on education to include courses on basic budgeting, savings plans, and predatory lending. With a new 9,500 square-foot education center and help from volunteer financial advisers and credit counselors, MadCAAP in 2013 had more than 400 individuals — mainly single mothers below the poverty line — attending its educational programs.

Says Robison:

We can take care of some of people’s immediate needs through our food pantry and clothing closet, but education is the most important piece to getting out, and staying out, of poverty.”

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