Summit Workgroup C: Fostering Statewide Initiatives
Fostering Statewide Initiatives for Economic and Digital 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.
As the National Collaborative for Digital Equity (NCDE) has demonstrated, there is a uniquely valuable role that state leaders can play in initiating and supporting local efforts regarding economic inclusion and digital equity in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. NCDE has held two statewide summits in New Hampshire and one in Massachusetts which brought together:
- State leaders from banking, economic development, education, philanthropy and housing.
- Local leaders in these same sectors in LMI communities.
- Digital equity resource providers offering free or deeply discounted access relating to broadband, new and refurbished computers, tech support by (where possible) linguistically diverse youths, chat-based support by school and public librarians for LMI learners, educational resources for financial literacy and economic inclusion, and educational and productivity apps/software.
The summits have sought to persuade and assist state leaders in these sectors to help recruit diverse local leaders who reflect the LMI community’s diversity, then provide support for them as they undertake local efforts to both:
- Remove digital divide barriers to economic opportunity, then
- Significantly improve coordination of usually fragmented local efforts to build pathways for LMI learners of all ages into living wage careers.
In New Hampshire, since the 1st statewide summit in October 2017, pilot efforts have begun in Farmington, Manchester and, especially promising, Franklin NH. In partnership with the NH Bankers Association, nationally significant precedents have been set in tapping bank CRA support for:
- Refurbishment and donation of a bank’s computers for use by LMI families in the community.
- Providing LMI families with free access to uniquely powerful educational resources for financial literacy (Rosen Digital’s financial literacy collection which provides learning resources and performance assessments by which LMI learners earn badges for demonstrating growing mastery of essential financial literacy skills and concepts) and economic inclusion (EBSCO’s LearningExpress which provides comprehensive resources for LMI youths and adults). Both EBSCO and Rosen have generously agreed to start pricing at a deep discount and to progressively further discount these collections as multiple groups join NCDE’s national Inclusion Portal co-op.
- Starting this summer, teaching candidates in school librarian preparation programs to provide free chat-based librarian support for LMI learners seeking to learn how to frame effective online searches.
- Starting this summer, providing stipends to master teachers to develop teaching strategies that banks’ financial literacy volunteers can use to provide engaging, effective workshops.
- Using CRA funds as match to leverage funding for a low-income school district’s broadband infrastructure development needs.
In Massachusetts, since the 1st statewide summit in December 2018 at the Boston Federal Reserve, educational leaders from the western half of the state have reached out to engage NCDE in developing a regional summit to meet the unique needs of this predominantly rural area, especially with regard to broadband infrastructure investment. In early 2020, NCDE and western MA leaders from banking, education, economic development, affordable housing and philanthropy will develop and support teams from LMI areas to address local digital divide barriers to improve coordination among local economic inclusion efforts. A nascent pilot initiative is also forming in Boston as a result of the MA summit.
Several questions warrant attention:
How might we best share lessons learned from these efforts with state leaders in these sectors nationally? Thus far, the state summits have been well attended by state leaders in education, digital equity resources, economic inclusion (e.g., workforce development and economic development) and, to a lesser extent, banking. How might we spur more engagement with state and local leaders in philanthropy, banking and affordable housing? What national organizations should we reach out to that have the mission and capacity to ensure that state and local leaders participate who represent a given LMI community’s diversity? Equally, how do we ensure that the local collective impact processes that LMI communities undertake give real agency and voice to diverse stakeholders?
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?