The New York City-based Rockefeller Foundation has announced investments totaling $65 million to help more than ten million low-wage workers and their families meet their basic needs and secure a better future.
The commitments include $36.5 million to launch the U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative, with the goal of leveraging $1 billion in private capital by 2025 in support of efforts to help low-wage workers. The effort will target proven policies, with a focus on two areas: raising awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) — two of the tools that have proven most effective in lifting families out of poverty — and promoting public-private partnerships aimed at mobilizing investment in Opportunity Zones.
To that end, the initiative will replicate in at least eight states an education and outreach program piloted by the Economic Security Project (with support from the foundation) that significantly boosted the number of low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples in California and Maine who take advantage of the EITC/CTC. To extend the effort to all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the foundation also awarded grants to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Economic Security Project, the EITC Funders Network, and UnidosUS.
In addition, the foundation will work in twelve cities and the District of Columbia to mobilize new and responsible private investment in Opportunity Zones and will provide funding to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Smart Growth America in support of their efforts to strengthen the capacity of cities to take better advantage of the federally sponsored program and incentivize responsible investment that supports community engagement and mitigates the risk of displacement.
Last but not least, the foundation will invest nearly $30 million in cross-foundation efforts to improve the lives and livelihoods of working families, children, and individuals by, among other things, influencing institutions such as public schools and health payers to direct their dollars toward healthy and sustainable food, using data science and technology to make America's social safety net more efficient and effective, and expanding access to reliable, renewable power for the people of Puerto Rico.
"Far too many people work hard and play by the rules, but the American dream feels more out of reach than ever before — and for many marginalized communities, it was hardly accessible to begin with," said Rockefeller Foundation president Rajiv J. Shah. "Over our hundred-and-six-year history, the Rockefeller Foundation has stepped up during our country’s most critical moments. To meet the moment today and going forward, we have to fight on every front to expand opportunity for America's working families."