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Save the Children: Julianne Moore on U.S. Poverty, Being 50, and Losing Her Mom

Actress/author Julianne Moore puts her heart into family, career, and improving children's lives this Valentine's Day.

Moore on Education Equality continued...

So when her teachers taught the lesson that America is a land of equal opportunity, young Julianne was skeptical. "I'm looking around, going, 'That's not true.' I saw the disparity right in front of me," she says. "We're all supposed to have an equal education, but it really depends on the tax bracket for the county you live in."

After earning her bachelor of fine arts degree in acting from Boston University's School of Theatre, Moore went on to get her big break in television with a dual role as Frannie Hughes and her "evil twin" Sabrina on the now-defunct soap opera As the World Turns. She then landed a series of supporting roles in feature films like Benny & Joon, The Fugitive, and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. The late 1990s and early 2000s were Moore's breakout season, as she went from one Academy Award-nominated role to another: Cathy Whitaker in Far From Heaven, Amber Waves in Boogie Nights, Sarah Miles in The End of the Affair, and Laura Brown in The Hours. Along the way, she met Freundlich when he directed her in 1997's The Myth of Fingerprints. She appears next as Sarah Palin in HBO's Game Change, based on the book by the same name, in March.

But she never forgot what she'd learned as an "Army brat." Years later, as charities came calling for a bit of her time, Moore elected to work with Save the Children on programs aimed at alleviating poverty among U.S. children.

"I have a friend who knew someone working with Save the Children, and he told me about all the places I could go and help in Asia and Africa. But I said my area of interest is the United States," she says. "Part of the deal with being American is that we're supposed to go out and help everybody in the rest of the world, but to do that we have to help the children here."

That's a lesson she's always taught her own kids. When Liv was younger, her elementary school did their own card campaign, donating the proceeds to buy toys for a nursery school wiped out in a tornado. "My daughter is a great bake sale person," she says. "She'll make cookies and sit on the stoop with a sign saying 'Bake sale for Japan!'"

How the Economy Affects Children

As America's economic recession lurches into its fourth year, the tentacles of poverty are squeezing more U.S. kids. "The common notion of poverty is the child in the ghetto, and it's true that about 29% of kids in major cities live in poverty," says Beth Mattingly, PhD, director of research on vulnerable families at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. "But 1 in 4 kids in rural America is growing up in poverty, too." Mattingly adds that between 2009 and 2010, an additional 1 million American children became poor. How can you help? Mattingly offers some tips:

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