Summit Workgroup B: Funders
Aligning Foundation Support for Educational Equity with
Community Reinvestment Support for Economic Inclusion
What’s the problem?
Since 1977, banks have spent over $3 trillion on Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) compliance, through investments in affordable housing, financial literacy education, financial inclusion, and economic inclusion. Banks meet their CRA obligation through a blend of employee volunteerism, loans, equity investments and grants. Recently, it’s been determined that banks can also receive CRA credit for supporting such digital equity-related efforts as developing broadband infrastructure.
During these same four decades, foundations committed to grantmaking in education have invested many billions of dollars in efforts to conceive, pilot, validate, scale and institutionalize strategies that enhance significantly more equitable learning opportunities and results for all learners.
While lives have been improved through these investments, in the aggregate, systemic patterns persist:
- According to the OECD, the US ranks in the 30th percentile in income inequality globally, meaning that 70% of nations have a more equal income distribution.
- US income inequality has increased since the 1970s. In 1979, the bottom 20% earned 20% of the nation’s pre-tax income; this fell to 13% by 2014. In 2015, middle-income households earned 12% of US income, down from 16% in 1979.
- Traditional middle-income occupations – composed primarily of construction, production and clerical jobs that require relatively little education – are in decline. “But [labor market demand with regard to] another set of middle-skill jobs – requiring more postsecondary education or training – in health care, mechanical maintenance and repair, and some services – is consistently growing” (source, 2016).
One clear implication is that efforts to foster economic inclusion – participation in living wage jobs – can be affected significantly by whether and how well we align economic inclusion investments with ones in educational inclusion.
At the same time, we know that educational inequalities persist and that efforts to overcome them are impeded by poverty:
- “Gaps in educational achievement between high- and low-income children are growing” (see source, 2017).
- Studies have found childhood poverty significantly linked to both trauma and low academic achievement.
Another clear implication is that efforts to foster more equitable educational opportunities and results can be enhanced significantly by investments that alleviate poverty and the trauma that often accompanies it.
Might we not do well, in other words, to undertake efforts in high-poverty communities to align local economic inclusion and educational inclusion investments?
There are some clues as to what such local efforts might look like – e.g.,
- Strive Partnership, which grew out of efforts in Cincinnati, arguably the first community to have utilized a “collective impact” approach before that term had been invented, to address both educational system improvement and economic inclusion.
- The World Economic Forum, meanwhile, has begun intensively examining whether and how best cities can be both “intelligent” or “smart” as well as economically inclusive.
More broadly, for several decades the international development field has explicitly addressed the need for integrated planning, action and policy on both educational and economic inclusion, through a professional field known as “development education”. Organizations like the World Bank, IMF, and OECD have invested in development education initiatives in developing national for decades.
What might a development education approach look like in an American city in which bank CRA executives and education foundation leaders together address persistent poverty and educational inequality in an integrated, sustained manner?
How might we best draw upon insights from meta-analysis of collective impact strategies to inform such collaborative local efforts?
How might the National Collaborative for Digital Equity and other summit participants best assist efforts to launch such initiatives?
By the end of Day One workgroup discussion, please be prepared to report out about your thoughts regarding the following question:
What are aspects of this challenge that most need addressing?
By the end of Day Two workgroup discussion, please be prepared to report out about your thoughts regarding the following questions:
- What strategies does your workgroup recommend be undertaken?
- What commitments might workgroup members have made to help implement proposed next steps?
- What supports and commitments might you need from NCDE and other stakeholders at the summit to carry out these strategies?