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Why you should care that 2 states are raising the minimum wage to $15.

Wages are on the upswing, and we've got fast food workers to thank.

Why you should care that 2 states are raising the minimum wage to $15.

In November 2012, a group of New York City fast food workers walked off the job. They wanted higher wages, the right to form a union, and better working conditions. Many laughed.

They wanted $15 an hour. This was more than twice the city's then-minimum wage of $7.25, and such a demand seemed ridiculous at the time.

Fast forward to today, and the movement they helped start just scored a couple major victories.


A striking worker protests outside a Wendy's on Nov. 29, 2012. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Over the course of the next three years, New York City's minimum wage will jump to $15 an hour, and it's thanks in large part to the Fight for 15 movement.

The movement, which really took off following the New York protests, has been relentless in its work. A coalition of low-paid workers, unions, and supporters has forced the issue with protests across the country, turning what seemed like the impossible into reality.

Last year, Seattle became the first major city to announce a $15 minimum wage, followed by Los Angeles and San Francisco. Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown announced plans to expand that wage to the whole state, followed just hours later by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's announcement.

Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Why is $15 an hour such a big deal? Because in most cases, it's above what's called the "living wage."

A living wage is what an individual has to make in order to cover basic expenses like food, housing, transportation, and medical care. In Manhattan, for example, the living wage is $14.30 an hour.

By raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, workers will finally be able to afford to live in the same area they work. This is a huge deal.

Obviously, the living wage varies across the country, but the point is this: Nobody is getting rich off $15 an hour. These are the wages people need to be paid to survive in our world.


People protest in front of a McDonald's on Sept. 10, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

In response to the movement to increase the minimum wage, MIT developed a "living wage calculator." It's pretty cool.

You can visit their website, type in what county and state you live in, and find out in just moments what they've calculated to be the living wage in your area. The number might surprise you!


Protesters stand outside a McDonald's in Miami, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

If we believe in the American dream, upward mobility, or whatever you'd like to call it — we need to believe in a living wage for all.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that people who begin work at the low end of the income scale have a hard time moving up in the world. When people working full-time can't afford basic necessities like food and shelter, there's no amount of hard work that can help. Working will always keep them broke because they don't have money to save up.

If we want to believe the world is a fair and just place and if we want to believe that all it takes is a bit of hard work to move up in the world, then we need to believe in a living wage.

And, finally, for these cities and states taking action, we're getting there.

Protesters stand outside a McDonald's in Miami, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

And just to think that less than three years ago all of this seemed impossible. Looks like we've got some fast food employees to thank.

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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