Launched in April, the initiative is aimed at identifying and supporting successful community-driven approaches to expanding economic opportunity for low-income individuals and communities in the United States. Based on four criteria — impact, potential to scale, community based/informed-ness, and leadership — the ten winners were recognized for their efforts to address systemic challenges, including investing in small businesses in low-income neighborhoods, improving access to public benefits, and reducing youth incarceration and recidivism. Selected from twenty finalists, each of the winning organizations will receive a grant of $1 million as well as technical assistance.
Hailing from nine states and Puerto Rico, grant recipients include the Benefits Data Trust in Philadelphia, which has helped tens of thousands of people access critical food, health care, and housing supports through the use of data, targeted outreach, policy change, and new technologies; the Coalfield Development Corporation in Wayne, West Virginia, which is focused on breaking the cycle of generational poverty in Appalachia through its 33-6-3 model, which features thirty-three hours of paid job opportunities, six hours of higher education class time, and three hours of life skills mentorship per week; and Industrial Commons in Morganton, North Carolina, which provides resources and support to businesses, networks, and workers in industrial areas of western North Carolina.
Additional recipients include BronxConnect in New York City; CASA in Langley Park, Maryland; Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña in San Juan, Puerto Rico; MoFi in Missoula, Montana; Onward Financial in Kansas City, Missouri; Project QUEST in San Antonio, Texas; and the South Carolina Community Loan Fund in Charleston.
"The enthusiasm for the Communities Thrive Challenge was just off the charts from local organizations all across the United States, demonstrating a real hunger to share what's working for the benefit of all Americans," said Rockefeller Foundation president Rajiv J. Shah. "By working together to invest in local solutions, we can build an America where all people can earn enough to support their families, achieve financial security, and provide their children with greater opportunity."