Gates Foundation Awards $3.7 Million for Social Mobility Collaborative

The Urban Institute has announced a $3.7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of a collaborative effort aimed at identifying breakthrough solutions to stagnant social mobility among the poor.

To be chaired by poverty and social policy scholar David Ellwood, the Scott M. Black Professor of Political Economy at Harvard University, the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty will convene twenty-four leading experts, advocates, and academics who, over the next two years, will work to identify successful social mobility programs, collaborate with innovative organizations to test new models, and identify approaches that can be put into action by philanthropic organizations, practitioners, and the public and private sectors. The initiative also will serve as a resource for the field, sharing its ideas, work, and insights with the public.

Participants in the effort include Elisabeth Babcock, president and CEO of the Crittenton Women's Union; Raj Chetty, professor of economics at Stanford University; Robert Greenstein, founder and president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; john a. powell, director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California, Berkeley; and Roxane White, president and CEO of Nurse-Family Partnership.

"Working with communities across the country, we will develop an action plan that builds on what works and deploys new ideas," said Ellwood. "Our approach will be geographically agnostic and politically nonpartisan; our findings will be transparent and available to all. We will consult widely, seeking out diverse voices and expertise as we examine the causes of persistent poverty and stagnant mobility. Rather than producing a single report, this partnership will regularly release its findings and ideas as we do our work. We hope that as a result, we can reset our country's approach to social mobility."

"While education is one of the most important interventions for improving mobility in the United States — and the focus of our investments here — it is not the only intervention that is needed to improve opportunity," said Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann. "We look forward to working with the partnership to better understand those factors, in addition to education, that shape long-term outcomes for children, families, and individuals."