Tag Archives: economy
Prevention Institute’s Larry Cohen and Maggie Barnes: Equity and Violence Prevention Go Hand-in-Hand

Prevention Institute’s Larry Cohen and Maggie Barnes: Equity and Violence Prevention Go Hand-in-Hand

This post is part of a series presenting equity leaders’ reactions to “America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model” — a new paper that challenges the nation to invest in our collective future. This post is written by Larry Cohen, Executive Director, and Maggie Barnes, New Sector Resident, of the Prevention Institute. Click here to read other reflections.

We thank PolicyLink for catalyzing a thoughtful and comprehensive discourse on equity and for emphasizing that equity is a superior growth model. As America’s Tomorrow points out, major shifts in policy and politics are needed at every level.

Efforts to achieve equity and to transform communities into healthy places must emphasize safety. Violence affects young people of color and those living in low-income areas more than other groups. Historically vulnerable populations, including women, children, elderly, those with disabilities, and LGBTQ communities also experience more violence. Violence and other inequitable conditions are unnecessary and preventable, and have been produced by historic and systemic social injustices or as the indirect consequence of social policies, practices and norms. Links Between Violence and Health Equity reveals how violence begets inequity, and inequity violence. It is a vicious cycle, and the cycle must be interrupted.

Violence affects everyone. The much larger price of violence involves the devastating emotional costs experienced by relatives and friends of victims, and the fear and general reduction in quality of life that the threat of violence imposes on everyone in America, including those who are not victimized. The social and economic costs of violence do not remain isolated to the areas in which the violence occurs. First and foremost, preventing violence is about saving lives and reducing the physical and emotional trauma, which besets far too many communities. Preventing violence is also necessary to foster well-being and to strengthen communities, including advancing economic growth and competitiveness.  Spillover effects in neighboring communities include lower business development, less confidence in safety, and fewer educational and financial opportunities for community members. Safety has a critical impact on not just where we shop, where we walk, but whether we can walk in our neighborhood, whether there are jobs available, whether there are places to shop, if children are able to learn. Children who are scared at school prioritize safety over learning. Children are also less likely to be active if the local park isn’t safe and there are no safe places to play—people who experience or fear violence bear a greater risk of developing chronic disease.

PolicyLink points out the value of workforce development and the need to build sustainable jobs and to invest in our youth—these are also critical strategies for violence prevention. Young people need connection, identity, opportunity and hope, and addressing violence and the lack of safety is essential for creating healthy, thriving communities. As Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in LA, best states it. “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.”

We know what to do to prevent violence. We can reduce rates of violence right now—cut them in half—without additional funding, simply by reprioritizing our investments and expenditures. It’s simply a question of political will. Communities have successfully reduced violence through comprehensive, coordinated efforts across sectors and community partners. UNITY, our work with cities across the nation, makes it clear that supporting and implementing equitable opportunities not only leads to a stronger economy, it leads to stronger communities.

Equity can’t be achieved without improving safety and preventing violence, and violence cannot be reduced without improvements to equity. We must all work together to create safe, equitable, healthy communities.

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins: A Road Map to Equity

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins: A Road Map to Equity

This post is part of a series presenting equity leaders’ reactions to “America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model” — a new paper that challenges the nation to invest in our collective future. This post is written by Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Chief Executive Officer of Green For All. Click here to read other reflections.

America doesn’t work if it’s two countries with opposite bank balances.

PolicyLink’s comprehensive look at the benefits of increased social equity is as timely as it is important. Many Americans sense that inequality is detrimental; PolicyLink proved it – and showed how difficult it will be for our economy to fully recover without also addressing underlying social issues.

Our mission at Green For All views that challenge from the opposite perspective: using the growth of the green economy (now measured by Brookings as larger than the fossil fuel sector) to increase social equity. With solar growing 67% year-over-year, with green businesses increasingly representing the most entrepreneurial companies in America – we can’t afford not to engage people in the green economy. It’s why we are deliberate about engaging communities of color, and fight for investment in strategies that can prepare and expand the green economy workforce.

Inequality can seem intangible. As I write this, thousands of people across the country are sleeping in tents to ensure that it’s not – and they’re doing so effectively. PolicyLink’s research puts numbers behind the slogans, adds many more percentages as outrageous as 1%.

America is waking up to the fact that inequality is an impediment, not a side effect. We need to move toward an economy that’s sustainable for people as well as the planet.

PolicyLink has provided a road map.

Urban Institute’s Tom Kingsley: Moving the Equity Agenda Forward

Urban Institute’s Tom Kingsley: Moving the Equity Agenda Forward

This post is part of a series presenting equity leaders’ reactions to “America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model” — a new paper that challenges the nation to invest in our collective future. This post is written by Tom Kingsley, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center. Click here to read other reflections.

PolicyLink’s framing paper is clear and it is compelling.  Equity is indeed the Superior Growth Model.  Priority now needs to shift to finding concrete ways to move the agenda forward.

I think one effective way to do that would be to support the preparation of annual Equitable Development Strategy reports for metropolitan regions.  These would present data for neighborhoods, municipalities and counties, region-wide.  The spotlight would be on indicators that would tell local stakeholders about progress (or the lack thereof) on interrelated equity and development goals.  But analysis would also be designed to identify neighborhoods and topics where new interventions might have particularly high payoff.  At the neighborhood level, this implies the use “early warning” indicators that would identify key problems and opportunities that are actionable.

Given dramatic improvements in data access there is no reason why reports like these could not be prepared in all of our major metropolitan areas from now on.  Their preparation and review should be highly visible public processes, structured to mobilize leadership from all segments of the community.  Every effort should be made to engage the local media as active participants as well (the kind of participation around similar reports that won a Pulitzer Prize for the Dallas Morning News a couple of years ago).

I am convinced that processes like these could create a new rhythm of accountability and give serious substance to the framing paper’s call for a “movement.”

Robert K. Ross on “Equity is the Superior Growth Model”

Robert K. Ross on “Equity is the Superior Growth Model”

This post is part of a series presenting equity leaders’ reactions to “America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model” — a new paper that challenges the nation to invest in our collective future. This post is written by Robert K. Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment. Click here to read other reflections.

Once again, leave it to Team PolicyLink to illuminate an alternative, constructive, “let all boats rise” path towards an economic renaissance for our nation.

Too many in our nation have subscribed to a Darwinian, zero-sum game to economic revitalization that prescribes winners and losers, and views America’s poor and disinvested communities as necessary collateral damage en route to a better Dow Jones average on Wall Street.

Our work with Angela Blackwell at PolicyLink and Manuel Pastor at PERE has helped convince our foundation that in addition to making grants to help realize our mission of improved health on communities, we must begin to deploy our investment dollars in these underserved communities as well.

As a result, we are now committed to a new Impact Investing strategy that will target and leverage more than $300 million to create healthy food opportunities, invest in health-promoting enterprises, and create jobs in some of California’s most disinvested neighborhoods. Thank you, PolicyLink, for lifting up an economic revitalization strategy paved with opportunity and optimism.

Jennifer Wolch: A Manifesto for Change

Jennifer Wolch: A Manifesto for Change

This post is part of a series presenting equity leaders’ reactions to “America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model” — a new paper that challenges the nation to invest in our collective future. This post is written by Jennifer Wolch, Dean of the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. Click here to read other reflections.

Just as at the moment that Occupy movements are springing up in cities and universities around the world, Treuhaft, Blackwell and Pastor have given us a rigorous study of how our failure to invest in the 99% has resulted in a bankrupt model of economic growth.

America’s Tomorrow offers extensive empirical data and sophisticated analysis to reveal the depth of income inequality, with its racial and generational dimensions, pervasive gaps in job preparation and economic opportunity, and the sorry state of our social and physical infrastructure. The report also provides powerful proposals for turning our economy around.  It clearly articulates the steps we need to take to create a more sustainable economy, by confronting the income divide, investing in young people, and repairing infrastructure critical for growth.

There is little doubt that equity is our only viable long-term strategy for a just, peaceful, and sustainable future. Here is our manifesto for change.

 

Vanessa Cardenas on “Equity is the Superior Growth Model”

Vanessa Cardenas on “Equity is the Superior Growth Model”

This post is part of a series presenting equity leaders’ reactions to “America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model” — a new paper that challenges the nation to invest in our collective future. This post is written by Vanessa Cardenas, Director of Progress 2050 at Center for American Progress. Click here to read other reflections.

In “America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model,” PolicyLink makes a convincing case of why equity is the way to greater economic growth and that we should shift our focus to equity as we devise a new economy that will work for most while at the same time addressing the significant racial gaps that have plagued our country for much of our history.
As the paper lays out, today is a moment of great challenge, not only because of the economic uncertainty our country is going through but also because of the impending demographic shift which will make our country majority-minority by the year 2042.  But, with this challenge also comes great opportunity.  The authors argue that we have the opportunity to create an economic system that is more balanced and fair if we are willing to make key and smart policy decisions and investments today.
An equity driven growth model entails rebuilding our infrastructure, growing new businesses and new jobs and preparing our workers for the jobs of tomorrow.  All of which are smart solutions that will have significant impact on the communities that need it the most.
Can this be done? Yes it can.  Our policy makers can and should enact policy solutions that work for the majority of our people; and as PolicyLink recommends, bring together two seemingly separate but key agendas: job-growth/competitiveness and reducing inequality.  However, as the paper also points out, knowing the right policy solutions is often not enough.  A bold and new economic agenda also needs a strong and deeply committed movement to support it and push it forward at every level.
PolicyLink’s vision and blueprint is showing us a way forward.   The challenge is for the rest of us to do what we can to make sure that our fellow Americans understand why it is important to embrace this opportunity  in order to ensure widely shared prosperity today and into the future.

“Construction Careers” Gets Boost from Sen. Gillibrand

Last week, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), a nearly $80 billion bill to reauthorize the programs that build and maintain our nation’s streets, bridges, and sidewalks.  The introduction of this legislation was long-awaited.  The current reauthorization expired in 2009 and our nation’s transportation system has been limping along on extensions ever since.

As part of the debate on the bill, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced an amendment to the bill that would create the first-ever construction careers demonstration program at the U.S. Department of Transportation, a provision that could have a major impact for transportation equity.

Quality jobs in the transportation sector can provide a pathway to the middle class.  The Construction Careers Program would connect Americans who have historically been underrepresented in the transportation construction workforce – low-income communities, women, and people of color — to quality apprenticeship training and job opportunities.

This program has been tested and proven in several cities  including in Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, and Milwaukee.  Its inclusion in the next surface transportation reauthorization will provide people from communities across the nation who desire to contribute to our nation’s economic success with access to critical entry points into quality jobs in the transportation sector.

When she introduced the amendment, Sen. Gillibrand said of the elements of the construction careers program:

“[T]hese are important provisions that I believe could be a real benefit to the legislation, and hope that as this process moves forward we could work to try and include this program in the legislation.”

 

We are grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her leadership on this important issue.  With the introduction of this amendment, the construction careers program has reached a significant milestone.  However, we still have some important hurdles to get this proposal into the final surface transportation authorization.  Next, we would like to see this proposal taken up by other Senate Committees, particularly the Senate Banking Committee, which will reauthorize our transit programs, as well as the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

You can join the more than a dozen organizations who are working to make a Construction Careers program at US DOT a reality.  To find out how you can support of this effort, visit our website or please contact, Chris Brown, PolicyLink at cbrown@policylink.org.

 

It Really IS About the 1%

It Really IS About the 1%

A new report out from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows the really stunning rise in income inequality over the past 30 years. Seems like the folks Occupying our cities may be on to something:

From the report:
  • For the 1 percent of the population with the highest income, average real after-tax household income grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007 (see Summary Figure 1).
  • For others in the 20 percent of the population with the highest income (those in the 81st through 99th percentiles), average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent over that period, much faster than it did for the remaining 80 percent of the population, but not nearly as fast as for the top 1 percent.
  • For the 60 percent of the population in the middle of the income scale (the 21st through 80th percentiles), the growth in average real after-tax household income was just under 40 percent.
  • For the 20 percent of the population with the lowest income, average real after-tax household income was about 18 percent higher in 2007 than it had been in 1979.
Looking at the SHARE of income, the picture is even more stark. Income share is rushing from the bottom 80% right to the top 20% — and, in particular, the top 1%:
Don’t X Out Public Transportation

Don’t X Out Public Transportation

On Tuesday, September 20th public transit riders, advocates, and employees are joining for a nation-wide event, Don’t X Out Public Transportation.  Rallies are planned for over two dozen cities around the country to call on Congress to support investments public transportation; and also to oppose a proposal from the U.S. House of Representatives that would cut transit funding by more than one third.

Such a drastic cut would likely result in major service cuts and fare increases that would leave millions of Americans, particularly low-income people and communities of color, stranded without transportation options:

    • Nearly 60 percent of households without vehicles have incomes below 80 percent of their region’s median income.
  • Over 27 percent of Latino and 25 percent of African American households in metropolitan areas have no access a vehicle.


Preserving and enhancing our public transportation system is a critical investment for a more inclusive nation.  Visit the Don’t X Out Public Transportation website to get information about joining a rally in your community.  Also, stayed tuned to EquityBlog for additional updates on how you can get engaged in building a more equitable transportation system in America.

High-skilled Immigrants Outnumber Low-skilled Ones

High-skilled Immigrants Outnumber Low-skilled Ones

A new report released today by Brookings shows that high-skilled immigrants (those with a college degree or more) now outnumber low-skilled immigrants (those with less than a high school diploma). Check out their chart:

Brookings Immigrant skill chart

But the trend isn’t playing out everywhere in America. While high-skilled immigrants outnumber low-skilled ones in the San Francisco Bay Area and much of the Eastern Seaboard (plus Ohio and Seattle), low-skilled immigrants still dominate throughout the Southwest and Midwest.

Brookings Skills Map

What does this mean for jobs and economic recovery in these communities? How can we get more skills to those who need them?