Giving Compass’ Take:
· Writing for the Huffington Post, Willa Seldon and Debby Bielak discuss concentrated poverty and analyze how race, geography and other factors influence success and posterity. The authors also provide two innovative approaches to reduce concentrated poverty and expand opportunities to climb the economic ladder.
· What are some factors that limit the abilities of individuals to prosper financially? What are some issues contributing to systemic poverty?
When it comes to our lot in life, where we’re born has a lot to do with it. Case in point: according to research from the Equality of Opportunity Project, children born in San Jose and Salt Lake City—the country’s most upwardly mobile cities—have a dramatically better shot at seizing the American Dream of a better economic life than children born in Atlanta and Charlotte, the two worst cities for upward mobility.
The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Pursuing the American Dream report asserts that 70 percent of children born to parents in the bottom 40 percent of incomes remain at the bottom of the economic ladder—no matter how hard they try to climb it. Many of the people who are trapped in the economy’s basement live in areas where poverty is concentrated. Discriminatory housing policies, dilapidated housing, substandard schools, limited job opportunities, and chronic crime all conspire to keep people right where they are.
Today, the number of people living in high-poverty neighborhoods is increasing rapidly.
According to a US Census Report, in 2000, nearly 50 million people lived in neighborhoods where more than 20 percent of the population lived below the federal poverty line. In 2010, that number topped 77 million.
For philanthropists looking to improve the lives of the poorest Americans, there is ample opportunity to build on promising housing-mobility programs like those in Baltimore and Chicago. A starting point would be to invest in creating a national nonprofit to serve as a hub for expertise on housing-mobility programs. This entity could provide technical assistance and seed grants to regional programs, as well as create a consistent set of quality standards for housing-mobility programs. Investors could also develop regional mobility programs in as many as 20 to 25 targeted regions, providing many more families with the chance to move to higher-opportunity neighborhoods.
How might such investments pay off? Since data on the effects of revitalizing neighborhoods is limited, Bridgespan has focused on the potential outcomes of housing-mobility programs.
Read the full article about reducing concentrated poverty by Willa Seldon and Debby Bielak at the Huffington Post.
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