New York City-based Robin Hood has announced a $25 million partnership to advance economic and social mobility.
Announced at the organization's annual thought leadership conference, the Mobility Learning and Action Bets (Mobility LABs) initiative will support the development of new solutions designed to lift families out of poverty and promote leaders who can change the national conversation around social and economic mobility. To be led by Nisha Patel, Robin Hood's managing director for narrative change and national initiatives, the partnership includes the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and Tipping Point Community, with additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Over the next four years, Mobility LABs and its partners will work to increase learning around effective short-term predictors of economic and social mobility and identify new metrics to help guide future investments; increase short-term predictors of mobility in diverse demonstration communities; and create an active cohort of leaders who understand, embrace, and promote new narratives focused on mobility.
The initiative is part of Robin Hood's new strategic vision to lift households in New York City from poverty measurably and sustainably, which was unanimously approved by the organization's board last fall after a yearlong assessment. According to the latest data from Poverty Tracker — Robin Hood's joint project with Columbia University to monitor the dynamics of income poverty, material hardship, health problems, and other indicators of economic and social well-being across four thousand New York City households — New Yorkers overwhelmingly believe that not everyone has an equal chance in the United States, while a majority think that the country's economic system is unfair.
"We understand that philanthropy has a critical role to play in this fight. We also understand that the current state of poverty in our society is not because philanthropy hasn't done its job. The current role and the current state of poverty in our society is not because community partners and those on the ground haven't done their jobs," said Robin Hood CEO Wes Moore. "We are here because of the systemic, structural, and policy inequalities that exist. We are here because we have policies that are in place that are putting people and keeping people in poverty."
As part of its new strategy, Robin Hood will work to address those inequalities by leveraging public policy, partnership, and narrative change, with a focus on "importing and exporting" effective interventions, addressing the narratives that hold back people in poverty, creating initiatives to explore solutions across the spectrum, and addressing the policies preventing people from moving out of poverty.
"Our work with our community partners is the cornerstone of everything we do, and that will not change," said Moore. "We're going to support our impactful grants and our rigorous metrics with a focus on getting families in New York City to a point where their chances of slipping back into poverty are greatly diminished, and we're going to work in partnership with communities to do it."