Conversations in Economic Mobility

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An Apology – sort of:

I think a typical blog starts with an apology for not having written something sooner!  Okay – so it’s later than expected, but here it is.  And just so everyone knows, for the blog/newsletter topics for 2019, I am going to be focusing my efforts around the concept of Economic Mobility.  And to be clear – it is our hope that these discussions reach throughout Colorado – urban, suburban and rural communities.  We will be diligent in our efforts to include anyone who is interested in this work!

 

The First Conversation

The Denver Office of Financial Empowerment contracted with FHI to develop a series of classes, forums and meetings that allows us to piggyback off of the Regional Economic Mobility Summit presented last November.  We have loosely titled this project “Conversations in Economic Mobility.”

At the beginning of January, FHI offered our first class in this series. The main focus of this class was to get a better understanding of our collective definitions of “The American Dream” and “Economic Mobility.”

On the whole, the class was received quite well (we have surveys to prove it!) and some ideas of definitions emerged, which I will discuss in a few minutes. However, one thing we heard loud and clear from the people in the room is that there is a tremendous desire to get to know each other better – that is, to have time to network with each other.

As a result, going forward – each of the classes that we have in the series of “Conversations” will be structured with a networking opportunity at the beginning of the session prior to the content delivery.

 

We Are Not Alone

The term “Economic Mobility” has a lot of buzz around it right now and it is my hope that this is not a passing “buzzword,” but that it is a sustainable movement. The connotation of “Economic Mobility” is not straightforward. There are many lenses through which this concept can be viewed and therefore various ways to measure it.

Yet, as we have been out in the field discussing it with people and continuing to do research, we found that there are several groups that are exploring how to actually DO SOMETHING about improving Economic Mobility.

For instance – there is a Federal block grant called “Community Service Block Grant.” This block grant funds Community Action Agencies to help people move out of poverty. The Colorado Community Action Association, which is Colorado’s state association for community action agencies, will be hosting a conference in Colorado Springs this summer that will focus on Economic Mobility, and it’s open to everyone. This conference will be championing many of the ideas and concepts that we have discussed in our conversations: building community, using data, breaking down silos, changing narratives – to name a few. (As an FYI – FHI will be contributing to this conference!)

Additionally, we learned about the US Partnership of Mobility from Poverty (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and supported by the Urban Institute). This “Partnership” has done a lot of research around Economic Mobility and is not tied to “income mobility” as their primary indicator – which makes me very happy. In fact, they say, “The Partnership’s collective ambition is that all people achieve a reasonable standard of living with the dignity that comes from having the power over their lives and being engaged in and valued by their community.” To a large degree, that sort of sums up what our group said in our first Conversation in Economic Mobility class.

 

What’s Next

We are diligently working to get the next class scheduled in early March. In addition to having a facilitated networking opportunity, and more group work,  we have asked the Colorado Center on Law & Policy to present on their Self-Sufficiency Standard Report (tool).

We will send out a separate invite with more class information and details within the next week, so be on the lookout for it and make sure you register so that we have enough coffee and food there for you! We are working on methods to broadcast these Conversations in Economic Mobility, and we would enjoy the opportunity to present them in other locations, so we can include more people around the state.

If you have comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.