By: The Boosting Upward Mobility from Poverty Project at the Urban Institute
Counties have the power to improve the conditions that boost the long-term economic and social mobility of their residents, especially those experiencing poverty. Creating these conditions requires political will and a sustained commitment to action, but also a clear way to assess current standing and measure progress. This is especially critical in the present moment, when stagnating rates of economic mobility and structural barriers faced by people of color have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, highlighting the need for local leaders to promote both inclusive recovery and equitable access to opportunity.
To support counties in such efforts, the Urban Institute is excited to announce a new opportunity for up to 8 counties to join an Upward Mobility Cohort. Selected counties will receive 18 months of technical assistance and funding to adopt and apply a set of mobility metrics to better understand and advance upward mobility in their communities.
In 2019, the Urban Institute – a nonprofit research organization – convened an expert working group of scholars from across disciplines to develop a set of 25 evidence-based metrics for mobility from poverty. Designed to be relevant and applicable to a wide range of jurisdictions, the metrics can help local leaders establish priorities, set targets, catalyze action, change policies and practices, and monitor progress over time. The metrics reflect a broad definition of upward mobility from poverty that extends beyond a focus on economic success and recognizes the critical importance of power and autonomy and of being valued in community in a way that more fully captures people’s experiences with poverty. Together these metrics provide valuable information about how well conditions in a community support residents’ upward mobility.
Now it is time to take the next step—to work with local leaders in adopting and applying these metrics to their own work promoting upward mobility and learn how the metrics might be refined for greater impact. Urban seeks applications from counties interested in adopting and applying the mobility metrics to their own work to promote upward mobility. Selected counties will receive funding and 18 months of tailored technical assistance from experts at Urban to put the mobility metrics to use and inform decisionmaking to improve conditions for upward mobility. During this time, Urban will also learn from work with county partners to improve the metrics and will develop an implementation guide for communities across the country to apply the metrics in the future.
As part of this technical assistance, Urban will:
- Work with county staff and cross-sector leaders to examine how each county’s mobility metrics compare to other jurisdictions and analyze the mobility metrics and local administrative data to better understand any disparities and help target strategies to places and people;
- Support each county in developing a “Mobility Action Plan” that identifies key challenges across policy areas that inhibit local mobility and devise strategies (including policies, programs, and investments) to improve local conditions for mobility and outcomes for residents;
- Help counties develop a cross-sector “mobility coalition” of local leaders and experts—or work with an existing local coalition with this focus—who will guide the development of the Mobility Action Plan; and
- Bring together county cohort members for regular peer-learning opportunities where counties can share strategies to promote upward mobility and help develop best practices.
Interested counties should complete the Request for Information by September 16, 2020. Details on the RFI can be found here. Urban will select up to 25 finalists who will be invited to submit a full proposal due in November 2020. Urban will ultimately select up to 8 counties to participate in the Upward Mobility Cohort. The cohort and technical assistance process will launch in January 2021.
Interested in learning more? Click here to RSVP to attend a webinar on Thursday, August 20, 2020 from 2pm – 3pm EDT.
Apply for this opportunity here.