Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

By Christina Arrostuto and Gabriela Sandoval.

Our economy is out of balance. Too many families can't get ahead in our beloved Bay Area no matter how hard they work. The great news is, it's not as difficult as you may think to move closer to a more equitable and prosperous Bay Area. We know what to do. We have the resources. All we need is the will.

On June 3, Rise Together Bay Area released new research conducted by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. This analysis, published in the report, Promoting Regional Economic Success in the San Francisco Bay Area, shows that if the nine counties in the Bay Area joined forces to implement smart public policies and scale successful local programs, we could help 150,000 Bay Area families living on the brink to make ends meet while also generating an $8 billion positive economic impact for our region. 

Read the article here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

Op-ed by
Henry A.J. Ramos, President & CEO, Insight Center for Community Development
Johnathan M. Holifield, Architect of Inclusive Competiveness

Mending our nation's rampant economic inequality is becoming a central theme among presidential contenders for the 2016 race. Thus far candidates seem to believe that whomever delivers the right populist message stands the best chance to reach the Oval Office. Whether addressed through stories of the candidate's humble origins or lofty ideals, their conversations are beginning to be about how to set the economic stage for greater prosperity for all of our citizens. This is a promising trend.

Read the Op-ed here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

by Connie Evans, President and CEO, Association for Enterprise Opportunity

As the still fragile U.S. economy cranks out new jobs, with concerns that a jolt from a world event or higher interest rates could spark a slowdown, much of the public and private sectors have ignored the potential of the nation's smallest businesses to help fuel economic growth.

These microbusinesses, enterprises with five or fewer employees, comprise more than 92 percent of U.S. businesses, annually generate $4.8 trillion, and contribute to the employment of more than 41 million people. Yet public policymakers and corporate strategies barely take notice, rarely implementing policies and practices that support these businesses or understanding their power to fuel job creation.

Read the Op-ed here.

Category: 2015
Posted by: blim

By Gabriela Sandoval

What if there was a way to ensure that the abundant prosperity of the Bay Area was more equitably shared by all Bay Area residents?

Rise Together Bay Area is an ambitious project that brings over 180 regional partners from the business, government, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors to “cut Bay Area poverty in half” by 2020. In reality, Rise Together Bay Area doesn’t just want to cut poverty in half; these groups want to find viable ways for families that have been locked out of accessing the Bay Area’s prosperity.

Last week, Rise Together Bay Area released new research conducted by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. This analysis, published in the report, Rise Together Bay Area: Promoting Regional Economic Success in the San Francisco Bay Area Region, shows that if the nine counties in the Bay Area join forces to implement smart public policies and scale successful local programs we could do just that.

Read the article here.

Category: 2015
Posted by: blim

Today at the inaugural Poverty to Prosperity Conference, Rise Together Bay Area -- a collective initiative of 180+ business, government, nonprofit and philanthropic representatives -- released a new report by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development with data representations from the UC Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, titled “Promoting Family Economic Security in the San Francisco Bay Area Region.

This landmark study highlights the depth and breadth of poverty in the Bay Area in new and compelling ways, tests various types of pro-prosperity supports through economic microsimulations, and presents a set of research-grounded strategies for implementing a pro-prosperity agenda.

The report also makes available 110+ maps developed by the UC Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, documenting levels of poverty and opportunity across the region.

Download the report here (1.6 MB PDF without appendices).

Download the full report here (18 MB PDF).

Take Action

Click here to sign the Rise Together pledge to cut poverty in the Bay Area!

Download the Roadmap to Cut Bay Area Poverty.

Join the Conversation with #powerof9 @insightcced and @Rise_BayArea 

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

An Op-ed by Henry A.J. Ramos

Each year, the Northern California counties of Alameda and Contra Costa -- where the Insight Center is headquartered -- receive investment inflows totaling about one billion dollars. These investments support important industries like Biotech, Alternative Energy, Software Development, and Medical Instrumentation. While these investments are fueling essential regional economic growth and development, they fail too often to reduce unemployment and poverty rates in the urban cores of Oakland and Richmond, the counties' two largest metropolitan areas. 

Read the Op-ed here.

Sign the BIG pledge.

 

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

In a nation that offers such a broad scope of social, political and economic opportunity, it would seem that advancement options should be available to all.

Yet so many Americans fall prey to the dangers of false advertising, fraud, predatory lending and damaging corporate policy.

Thankfully there are more and more advocacy groups emerging to fight for the rights and opportunities of consumers. Whether you’re looking for access to fair and reasonable housing or a trustworthy guide to products and services, these organizations are committed to the interests of your average consumer.

We’ve examined and evaluated some of the nation’s leading consumer advocacy groups in the U.S. and have honed in on the most original and noteworthy organizations.

See the complete list here.

Category: 2015
Posted by: blim

Gabriela Sandoval, Director of Research and Chief Economic Security Officer at the Insight Center,  contributed an article titled "The Costs of Child Support" in the PRRAC's March/April 2015 newsletter.

Nate’s daughter is 3 years old. Shortly after she was born, he lost his job and his girlfriend enrolled in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Federal welfare laws required that his girlfriend assign her right to child support directly to the government in order to receive cash assistance. To this day, most of the money Nate pays to child support—when he is able to pay at all—is kept by the government.

Read the entire article here.

Category: Videos
Posted by: blim

Insight Center's own Gabriela Sandoval, Director of Research and Chief Economic Security Officer, testified on March 17 before a joint-committee hearing titled Who Can Afford to Get Old? Senior Poverty in the Golden State before members of the California State Assembly.

Gabriela provided a powerful personal look at the reality of what it takes to make ends meet in California and how we need to support seniors by providing funding to bring SSI/SSP recipients above the FPL, fund a COLA, and make SSI/SSP recipients eligible for food assistance.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

Op-ed by Henry Ramos and Jack Mills.

As you read this, approximately 1,000 industry sector-focused workforce development partnerships are solving some of the most pressing challenges facing our businesses, job seekers, workers, and communities. However, these essential "sector partnerships" need far more funding to make a difference at scale - the kind of difference our nation desperately needs.

Last year, Congress provided sector partnerships with policy support through its enormously bipartisan passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Now, Congress must allocate sufficient funding to make this policy support real.

The US needs to expand its work force pipeline. The stakes are enormous and time is definitely not on our side. If our country fails to expand our workforce, American businesses will not be able to compete successfully and our people will struggle to obtain middle class jobs.

Read the Op-ed here.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

Gaps in wealth, not in education, between black and white families may be the most powerful force locking Americans into their social class.

In the story of the American Dream, education and a good job are supposed to erase the class differences into which we are born and open opportunity to anyone with merit and grit, regardless of race.

But new research is showing that getting another degree or a higher paying job may do less than believed to make good on the American Dream for families of color.

View and read the feature here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

Since the early 1980s, America has made public policy largely based on the conservative notion that government is so broken its role in the lives of everyday Americans should be severely limited.

This philosophy of governance has failed us, and will continue to fail us. During recent decades most Americans have lost significant economic ground compared with other post-WWII generations in areas ranging from wages to major expenses such as housing, healthcare and education.

Read the Op-ed here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

aphrodite74 via Getty Images

The financial lifecycle allows wealth to flow between generations in the form of gifts and inheritance. At birth, we receive the wealth and social standing of our family and, at passing, flow our contribution to wealth -- or a portion of it -- to our descendants in order to give them what we imagine will be a more financially stable life than we had. 

Read the Op Ed by Henry A.J. Ramos, co-authored with Anne Price.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

by Anne Price and Visnu Sridharan

As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., protests continue to simmer across our nation. The message of those protesting — demanding positive change to our nation’s persisting, systemic inequality — dominated our national dialogue during the closing days of 2014. That this conversation has disappeared from the tongues of politicians and mainstream media belies the fact that nothing has changed.

Deep inequality persists in our society.

Read the Op Ed here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

by Surina Khan, The Sacramento Bee

Earnie Spencer works full time at a minimum-wage job and takes care of her disabled husband. After paying for bills and food for the month, Spencer, who is 62 and lives in Fairfield, says she has “nothing left over, and am waiting for my paycheck on pins and needles.”

In California and across the country, women are struggling to make ends meet and provide for their families. In fact, two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers in California are women. If they work full time, Californians earning a minimum wage make just $18,000 per year before taxes. That means a hardworking mother of two who earns a minimum wage lives below the official federal poverty line. That is, quite simply, unacceptable.

According to the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, a family of three living in Los Angeles needs at least $65,000 to make ends meet – the equivalent of three minimum-wage jobs. 

Read the Op Ed here.

Category: 2014
Posted by: blim

by Tanzina Vega

The wealth gap between minorities and whites has continued to increase in the midst of the economic recovery, according to a report by the Pew Research Center that was released Friday.

According to the report, which analyzed data from the Survey of Consumer Finances from the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of white households in 2013 was $141,900, about 13 times that of black households at $11,000. 

Read the New York Times article here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

It is time more credit unions stepped into the space that predatory payday lenders have taken over. Payday lenders often plant themselves right next to mainstream financial institutions - offering complementary loan services that credit unions could be providing at a lower cost, according to a new Filene Research Institute study, "The Impact of Two-Tiered Banking: How Credit Unions Can Bridge the Divide." Many credit unions deny small-dollar loans to consumers with limited credit histories who may be good candidates. And some consumers choose payday lenders over credit unions because they want convenient hours and shorter wait times.

Read the Op-ed here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

Election eve 2014 made evident early and forcefully that American public opinion is hard to square with reason and logic.

After growing demands from the grassroots over recent years for bipartisan problem solving to address the nation's continuing economic woes -- from wage and income stagnation to growing asset inequality -- Americans are tired of waiting for a fix. They are understandably angry at the intractability and inaction of Washington politics. They want and expect more of our national leaders.

Read the Op-ed here.

Category: 2014
Posted by: blim

Voters in Oakland and San Francisco have overwhelmingly passed measures to raise the minimum wage.

The minimum wage in Oakland will rise from $9 to $12.25 starting in March 2015.  In San Francisco, Proposition J would raise the minimum wage gradually from $10.74 to $15 by July 2018.

Read the article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Four other states, Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota also passed measures to raise the minimum wage.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

Earlier this year, voters in the town of SeaTac, WA, home to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, narrowly-approved a ballot measure to increase the local minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.

The measure received national attention not only because of the significant wage level benchmark that it set, but also because of subsequent legal challenges now before the Washington Supreme Court. These court battles underscore an intense and growing divide between worker and more conventional business interests.

Read the Op Ed here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

By Gabriela Sandova, Oakland Tribune My Word

Jose Dante Clark's daughter is 3-years-old. Shortly after she was born, he lost his job and his girlfriend enrolled in CalWORKS. Child support enforcement required that his girlfriend assign her right to child support directly to the government to receive benefits. To this day, most of the money Jose pays to child support -- when he is able to pay at all -- is kept by the government.

From the start, Jose was ordered to pay an amount he could not afford, despite that he was unemployed. The child support debt he owes to the government grows with an interest rate of 10 percent (in California). Jose remains chronically underemployed. He's had his earned income tax credit intercepted. His driver's license has been revoked. Without the ability to legally drive, he is in danger of losing what little work he has. Jose wants nothing more than to be able to support his daughter financially and emotionally, but child-support policy and practice makes this almost impossible. 

Read the complete article here.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

By Joseph Cotto, Communities Digital News

OCALA, Fla., October 8, 2014 — The economy can be up or down, social attitudes can shift right or left, the country can be at war or peace, yet race relations remain a sensitive topic.

As far as politics are concerned, the racial issues typically boil down to economic concerns; the have and have nots – the 1% versus everyone else.

Read the complete article at Communities Digital News.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

by David Klepper, Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York state will aim to give 30 percent of its contracts to businesses owned by minorities or women, one of the highest goals of its kind in the country, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

Cuomo made the announcement during remarks at a forum for women- and minority-owned businesses. A previous goal of 20 percent was surpassed last year.

“We will hit 30 percent and we will tell all the other states ‘you can follow us,'” said Cuomo, a Democrat. “Let New York lead the way.”

The state’s efforts to boost its reliance on minority-owned business began as a way to encourage small businesses and ensure state contracts were awarded fairly. Since 2011 the percentage of qualified businesses holding state contracts has more than doubled, and now accounts for nearly $2 billion in contracts with the state of New York.

“When your businesses are successful your entire community benefits,” said state Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a Bronx Democrat, who said the program helps boost employment, tax revenue and the economic stability of minority communities.

Cuomo said the initiative is part of the state’s larger work to knock down racial and gender barriers to employment, housing and education.

“We have not yet become a just society,” he said. “Discrimination and racism are alive and well in America today… I call it ‘discrimination with a smile’ – it’s more subtle but it’s just as insidious.”

Many states set goals for the percentage of state contracts they would like to see held by minority-owned businesses. According to the non-profit Insight Center for Community Economic Development New York’s 30 percent goal would be the highest in the nation.

Maryland last year increased its goal to 29 percent. 

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

Homeownership has long been central to the American Dream. Our homes are where our families and futures are built, and the single most important measure of an individual's ability to build wealth. Homeownership is, however, becoming a pipedream for many Americans. More and more of us are forced into a never-ending cycle of temporary housing because of the financial strains of a slow-growing economy and a staggeringly inequitable culture of wealth generation and accumulation. People of color remain farthest from achieving this part of the American dream.

Read the Op-ed here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

The past several weeks have seen a sad and all-too-familiar scene replayed in American society -- the senseless killing of a young man of color at the hands of a white police officer and the revelation of deep continuing racial disparities in U.S. law enforcement and society at large. The events just played out in Ferguson, Missouri remind us that our nation's work to bridge historic racial and economic divides is far from finished.

Read Henry's op-ed here.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

8.25.2014

The Honorable Barack Obama
President
United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

DEAR PRESIDENT OBAMA:

In cities across America, local law enforcement units too often treat low-income neighborhoods populated by African Americans and Latinos as if they are military combat zones instead of communities where people strive to live, learn, work, play and pray in peace and harmony. Youth of color, black boys and men especially, who should be growing up in supportive, affirming environments are instead presumed to be criminals and relentlessly subjected to aggressive police tactics that result in unnecessary fear, arrests, injuries, and deaths.

Read the letter here.

Add you name to the petition urging President Obama to act now!

 

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

Business diversity policies are alive and well in many cities and counties throughout the U.S. -- and especially in Houston -- according to a new national study we recently helped to complete about public contracting practices with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

Indeed Houston's approach to the issues positions it as one of the nation's leading municipalities for promoting business diversity.

Read Henry Ramos' Op Ed here.

Co-written with Carlecia D. Wright, Director of City of Houston's Office of Business Opportunity.

Category: 2014
Posted by: blim

By Connie Evans, President and CEO, Association for Enterprise Opportunity

I recently read about an unemployed, single mother who completed a two-week training course to become a certified nursing aide, an occupation listed as the "fastest-growing job in America." The woman was hopeful that the certification will allow her to now make a living.

Ideally, the certification will bring employment opportunities, but, very likely, her job options will be slightly-more-than minimum wage, if at all, and won't net enough income to allow her to move from a home that has sporadic electricity, and no running water. 

Despite the Bureau of Labor Statistics report of May 2014 job gains, the nation's unemployment rate held steady at 6.3 percent, which is compounded by new research findings that re-employment of the long-term unemployed is not necessarily indicative of a fresh start: many jobs pay significantly less than previous positions, are not steady, full-time, or permanent.

Read the Op Ed here.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

By Kathleen Pender

A proposal to increase San Francisco's minimum wage, already the highest in the nation, won't do much to close the income gap in this high-cost city.

The proposal, which the city decided last week to put on the November ballot, would gradually raise the minimum wage from the current $10.74 to $12.25 on May 1, to $13 in July 2016 and to $15 in 2018.

Many employers in low-wage sectors already pay entry-level workers more than $10.74, so the first-year increase might not affect them. By the time it reaches $15 per hour, it still won't be enough to live on.

A single, childless adult living in San Francisco today needs to earn $15.66 per hour to cover housing ($1,504 per month) taxes, food, health care, transportation and other necessities, according to the Insight Center for Community Economic Development's "self-sufficiency calculator"

Read the article here.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

In 1965, as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, the United States attempted to define for the first time what it means to be poor. The government established a federal poverty level equal to three times the annual cost of a minimum diet. This measure would be used to distinguish the needy from the less needy and to set eligibility thresholds for public programs.

At the time, the cost of food constituted a whopping one-third of the average family budget. But as other household expenses such as housing and transportation grew over time, this guideline became less accurate. Today, millions of people living above the poverty line cannot meet their basic needs.

Read Al Jazeera America's continuing series on poverty in America.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

Jerry Higgs suffered a career-ending back injury on a construction job. Two surgeries later, he's facing a lifetime of pain killers and making ends meet on California's below-poverty level SSI payments for the aged, blind and disabled. He joined Hunger Action Los Angeles because, as he says, "I was tired of not having a voice."

"How are we supposed to live? Rent is high in LA, we have to choose whether to buy groceries or medicine. I've been going to Sacramento since 2007. This year, we talked to my Assemblyman, and he was all for us," says Higgs. "He said he knows people on SSI really need it, with what's going on in the streets, people going hungry today in Los Angeles. Says he's trying to help."

This month, California legislators will finalize the state's first sunny-day budget since the Great Recession officially ended and voters approved Proposition 30 to stabilize the state budget. At the Insight Center, we'll be hoping that they focus on the 1.3 million Californians like Jerry Higgs, and the local economies these SSI recipients live in (source). Our Elder Index measures poverty more accurately than federal poverty levels, but also points toward a more sustainable future economy if we lift people out of poverty.

Read Henry Ramos' Op Ed here.

Category: Webinars
Posted by: blim
Best Practices in Local Public MWBE and SBE Programs
Thursday, May 29, 2014


Inclusive business programs appear to be alive and well in many cities and counties throughout the U.S., according to a new Insight Center study. These programs help Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) get an equitable share of public contracts.

By distributing income and assets more evenly throughout a region, inclusive business programs are one of the most proactive ways to address economic and racial inequality and grow the economy. We need to build on the success of these public programs by supporting excellence in program quality.

This webinar showcased strategies to increase the effectiveness of city and county MWBE and SBE programs. We heard from leaders of a race-conscious MWBE program, a race-neutral MWBE program, and an SBE program, who provided examples of how to take a program to the next level, promote agency buy-in, and increase impact. We also discussed trends in public procurement and make the case for highlighting program effectiveness through economic impact reports.

Featured Speakers

Marsha E. Murray, Esq.
Assistant Director
 
Cynthia Weyrens
Contract Compliance Administrator
Purchasing & Contract Services

Hennepin County, Minnesota

Sandy Hanks
Manager of Small Business Programs

King County, Washington State

Alison Tavik
Director of Communications

Maryland Governor's Office of Minority Affairs

Aimee Chitayat & Tim Lohrentz
Senior Consultants

Insight Center

 

Download the presentation here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

The American economy has changed in the years following the Great Recession of 2008. Manufacturing has seen a renaissance, yet over three-quarters of American jobs remain concentrated in service employment categories. We have moved from being a world leader in global economic production to the world's largest service economy.

Read the Op-ed here.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

By Mark Waller, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Microbusiness, including the self-employed and firms with only a few employees, might make up most of the total businesses in the United States, but corralling all those independent operators to bring about broad economic improvements can be a challenge. And so, alignment is the theme of a conference on microbusiness taking place in New Orleans this week.

Read the article here.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

Office of the Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer. WASHINGTON, DC- House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer delivered opening remarks today at the 2014 Color of Wealth Summit hosted by the Center for Global Policy Solutions and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Read the article here.

Category: Videos
Posted by: blim

By Walter Hamilton

It's not just 20-somethings who are moving in with their parents.

At a time when the sluggish economy has sent scores of young adults back home, older people are quietly moving in with their parents at twice the rate of their younger counterparts.

The surge reflects the grim economic reality that has taken hold in the aftermath of the Great Recession, as middle-age people struggle with issues such as extended unemployment.

 

Los Angeles Times

 

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

By Walter Hamilton

The number of Californians 50 to 64 who live in their parents' homes has surged in recent years, reflecting the grim economic aftermath of the Great Recession.

Read the full article here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

During the 2008 campaign that propelled Barack Obama into the presidency, then candidate Obama often invoked the phrase "Yes We Can!"

The slogan turned out to be a winning, if unlikely, reminder of the potential electoral superiority of people over money and power. It underscored the innate optimism -- indeed, to use his own description, the sheer "audacity" -- of Obama's claim to the presidency.

Read the Op-ed.

Category: Press Releases
Posted by: blim

Statewide data released today reveals harsh reality of jobless recovery.

Over 38% of Californians are struggling to cover the costs of a no-frills lifestyle as reported today in updated Self-Sufficiency Standard (SSS) figures released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development (Insight Center).

Read the Press Release.

Category: Videos
Posted by: blim

Anne E. Price, director of the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap, presented to the Assembly Aging and Long Term Care Committee on March 4. This hearing is one of eight in a series examining California elders in all demographic groups and regions. Price reviewed how women are faring, the growth in senior population especially among Asians and Latinos, and persistent wage gaps that leave women economically insecure as they age. Six in 10 minimum wage workers are women. Increases in the minimum wage for today’s workers and state supplemental income payments for seniors would benefit both women and California’s slow-recovering economy.

View highlights of her presentation:

View her full presentation:
 

 

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

At his recent State of the Union address, President Obama issued a timely challenge to U.S. corporate leaders: partner with the administration voluntarily to absorb more workers needing employment - and especially the long-term unemployed and young people of color - to help ease the nation's protracted downturn.

There can be no doubt that, in our current situation, any and all voluntary employer efforts to test and scale promising strategies to engage hard-to-place workers are good.

Read the Op-ed.

Category: Videos
Posted by: blim

Henry A.J. Ramos, Insight president, testified before the California Assembly Budget Committee on Health &  Human Services on Feb. 26. “California’s recovery is underway, but it is underpowered. There is a strong business case for supporting hard-working Californians, our children and our elders, by putting dollars in hand in our local economies.” Ramos detailed the evolution of measuring poverty and support for reducing it, noting no change in the percentage of Californians who fall below the federal Supplemental Poverty Measurement – 23.8%, or nearly nine million residents, in the past year.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

by John Rogers, Associated Press

More than 2.3 million adult children are living with their parents in California, a 63 percent increase since the Great Recession began seven years ago and a phenomenon straining budgets and pushing some families to the brink of poverty, according to a study released Thursday..

Read the article here.

 

Category: Press Releases
Posted by: blim

Californians anticipating an empty nest in their golden years are now faced with a rocky reality: The Great Recession and its jobless recovery have forced many adult children home, increasing household expenses by 50 percent or more, according to a new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

Read the Press Release.

Other media:

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

California Gov. Jerry Brown announced his new budget last week, almost 50 years to the day after the nation's highest officials undertook a decidedly ambitious effort to radically reduce inequality in America. When President Lyndon B. Johnson declared an unconditional war on poverty, he created public investment programs intended to lift the poorest among us in ways that would ultimately serve the larger society's and economy's interests. The anniversary strikes a chord because California certainly needs a war on poverty today.

Read the Op-ed.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

A NEW research study completed earlier this year at Brandeis University shows the dramatic gap in household wealth that now exists along racial lines cannot be attributed to personal ambition and behavioral choices, but rather reflects policies and institutional practices that create different opportunities for whites and Blacks.

Read the article here.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

Between 2005 and 2010, American households lost a whopping one third of their accumulated assets in the form of lower savings and investment holdings, lost property values, and reduced spending power.

Low-income families (and especially those of color) are increasingly precluded from making basic investments in themselves and their families. Many have lost their homes. They are unable to pay for the additional education and training that would expand their earnings and savings potential. They cannot pay for the childcare and transportation needed to get and keep a job. And most lack access to capital that could help them start a new business.

Read the Op-ed.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

Fifty years ago this week, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. He was just 46 years old and had only just completed the third year of his presidency.

Kennedy was a vigorous, highly intelligent, and forward-looking man who inspired a generation of excitement about the possibilities of government and politics in America. He helped to usher in the modern civil rights and environmental movements. He elevated the science and tech revolutions that inform our culture and economy still today; and he positioned intellectualism and the arts at the highest levels of public policy.

Read the Op-ed.
Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

The great irony of America's recent economic stagnation is the juxtaposition of the growing prosperity among the nation's privileged classes. By all accounts -- the raging stock market, growing luxury consumption and the underlying messaging of commercial advertisers -- America's wealthy are faring better than ever. Indeed the top 1 percent of income earners now control more assets than 90 percent of the country.

Read the Op Ed.
Category: 2013
Posted by: blim

http://r20.rs6.net/on.jsp?t=1115396334292.0.1103802037826.3&ts=S0973&r=3&o=http://ui.constantcontact.com/images/p1x1.gif

 

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Save the Date!
2014 Women's Policy Summit: 
Advancing Women's Health, Wealth & Power
Thursday, January 16
Sacramento Convention Center 

 

Where:
Sacramento Convention Center
1400 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

When:
Thursday January 16, 2014 from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Add to my calendar
   
For questions or sponsorship information, contact Summit Event Coordinator Cathy Murnighan at summit@ccrwf.org.
    
  
The Women's Policy Summit
is hosted by the 
 California Center for Research on Women
 and Families (CCRWF)

Kate Karpilow, Ph.D.,
Executive Director 

CCRWF is based at the  
Public Health Institute.

We are proud to have support from The California Endowment.

health happens here 

 

Concerned about the advancement of women and girls? 
 
The 2014 Women's Policy Summit will be a one-stop opportunity to learn what state legislators and leading advocates see as top priorities to improve the health and well-being of California's diverse communities of women and girls.  This year we add a special focus on implementation.  How can we be sure that laws supportive of women and girls are translated into programs and practices?  

The 2013 Summit was sold-out, so register early to reserve your seat. 

Topics will include:
Women and Health Care Reform; Health Disparities  
& Gender; Paid Family Leave; Title IX Implementation; Remedying the Rape Kit Backlog; Women, Poverty & Economic Empowerment; Constructing a Vision for California's Child Care and Early Education System; The History of California's Reproductive Rights and Freedom Movement; Breaking down Barriers; and more! 
  
Invitation will include final list of topics.

 

Luncheon Keynote Speaker
Sandra Fluke, Social Justice Advocate & Attorney 
Reproductive Rights, Freedom & Justice:
A Vision for California's Future

If you care about the status of women and girls in California, this is an event you cannot afford to miss!

Click here for online registration.

The Women's Policy Summit is co-sponsored by the Legislative Women's Caucus and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.

Click here for more information.

   

 

 

 

 

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

Among the financial challenges facing many of Milwaukee's black men is the disproportionate amount of debt they carry.

Though there are several factors that contribute to this debt, "Real Talk" contributor  and UWM Professor of social welfare David Pate says there's one surprising cause: child support.

Lake Effect's Stephanie Lecci interviews "Real Talk" contributor David Pate and Gabriela Sandoval and Nino Rodriguez.

Listen to the broadcast here.
Category: 2013
Posted by: blim

This webinar was held on Monday, September 30, 2013.

Child support enforcement policies create a unique and devastating type of debt, undermining the financial security of low-income fathers and their children and families. Particularly for low-income black fathers, these enforcement policies can both limit the ability to secure a sustainable livelihood and prevent them from accumulating assets and, in turn, close the door to future opportunities for their children. This is particularly significant because wealth, not income, is the best indicator of financial stability.

Anne Price, Director of Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative at INSIGHT, will be opening up the discussion. Jacquelyn Boggess, Co-Director at the Center for Family Policy and Practice, will discuss a new groundbreaking five-state qualitative research study based on conversations with black fathers with child support orders and the policy implications of these findings.Trina Shanks, Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan, will address the impact of child support debt on future opportunities for black children. and Marc Philpart, Associate Director with PolicyLink, will discuss how these issues can be brought to the forefront through organizing and advocacy.

Category: Videos
Posted by: blim

The Insight Center for Community Economic Development convened 70 organizational leaders from across the nation who work on economic security issues, studies, and advocacy.

Here is what some of them had to say about what is wrong with the the Federal Poverty Line.

Learn more about Metrics Matter: An Innovation Network for Economic Security.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

UWM researcher David Pate says on average black men in Milwaukee carry a disproportionate amount of debt, compared to their white peers.

Lake Effect's Stephanie Lecci interviews Dr. David Pate and researcher Anne Price about the debt many black men in Milwaukee carry.

Listen to the recorded broadcast.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors launched the Poverty Initiative in January 2012 to provide a snapshot of poverty in the county.  The board commissioned Insight Center to produce a geographically-based study to identify ways in which the Recession has impacted Santa Barbara County. Through data collection, a Service Provider and Funder Survey, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, and stakeholder interviews, the purpose of this assessment is to analyze how well county resources and services are
strategically aligned to areas and populations in greatest economic need and to make recommendations for improvements.

Downloadable versions of the full report, executive summary, and appendices, as well as the Board Agenda Letter, a press release announcing the September 10, 2013 presentation to the Board of Supervisors, and the presentation itself are available here.

Media coverage include:

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

Emily Alpert, Los Angeles Times

The number of grandparents caring for children surged during the economic downturn amid financial woes. Military service and other causes have also contributed to the need.

 Read the complete story.

 

Category: 2013
Posted by: blim

Don't miss Insight CEO Henry A.J. Ramos on the September 24th episode of the Landmark PBS series: Latino Americans.

LATINO AMERICANS is a landmark six-hour documentary featuring interviews with nearly 100 Latinos and more than 500 years of History.

The series premiered on PBS September 17th at 8 pm E.T. on PBS.

Watch the excerpt here.

Read the reviews:

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

Milwaukee is known nationwide as being one of the most segregated cities in the country; segregated both racially and economically.

Being a homeowner is the dream of many Americans, but what if a person cannot afford it because of their income?

WUWM, Milwaukee Public Radio Lake Effect's Stephanie Lecci speaks with Dave Pate and Anne Price

Listen to the recorded broadcast here.

Category: 2013
Posted by: blim

Although August 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the setting of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the goals of the march remain largely unfinished. On Monday, July 22 2013, the Economic Policy Institute held a symposium to review America’s civil rights successes as well as the significant amount of civil rights work that remains to be done. At the symposium, the speakers detailed how critical achieving the economic goals of the march are to fully transforming the life opportunities for communities of color and America’s working families.

Roger A. Clay Jr., former president of the Insight Center was a panelist on "The Politics of Race in America: Are We Making Progress?" panel.

Below is an excerpt from the symposium.


The complete symposium may be viewed here.

 

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

As Americans, we typically assume our way is best. There is some good reason for this. America is clearly the world's leader in economic, military, media and political power. But if we take a deeper look, by many important measures, our national standing and assets have been steadily declining for more than a generation now.

 Read the Op Ed.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

By Anita Creamer, Sacramento Bee

In what used to be called the golden years, a surging number of grandparents are slammed with continued family obligations. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of grandkids living with a grandparent has risen an astonishing 64 percent in the past two decades.

Read the full article.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

by Hamish McKenzie, PandoDaily

When Catherine Bracy moved to San Francisco’s Mission district from Chicago to head up the technology team for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, she was struck by the difference half a minute can make. Walking the 300 feet between the well-to-do Valencia Street and the near-chaos of Mission Street was like moving between different worlds.

Read the full article.

Category: Press Releases
Posted by: blim

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 2013

Henry A. J. Ramos, Non-Profit Management Consultant and former Foundation executive appointed President of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development

New Leader Brings strong background in Social Investment and Policy Advocacy to prominent national Community Economic Development organization

Oakland, California (June 26, 2013) Henry A. J. Ramos, a consultant to foundations and a non-profit sector leader, has been appointed President of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. The announcement of Ramos’ appointment was made today at Insight’s Oakland headquarters.

Since 1969, the Insight Center (formerly the National Economic Development and Law Center), has fueled the creation of over 500 community based development corporations and allied nonprofits across the nation through specialized legal support, policy research and advocacy, and partnerships with private philanthropies. A leader in the community economic development movement, the Insight Center has pioneered new approaches in workforce development, becoming the first proponent of sector-based strategies; in early care and education, becoming the first organization to demonstrate the economic importance of childcare; and more recently, in asset building, leading a national effort to close the racial wealth gap for the next generation.

“After a national search, we are pleased to appoint Henry Ramos, who has a distinguished record of 30 years of experience in both philanthropy and community change,” said Bea Stotzer, chairman of the Board of the Insight Center, and Chief Executive Officer of NEWCapital, LLCs. “He brings to the Insight Center a heartfelt passion for building stronger communities and strong relationships with the Foundation community. Henry has the proven leadership skills to guide the Insight Center to a superior standard of excellence in its program delivery and national impact.”

Ramos, who currently serves as founder and principal of Mauer Kunst Consulting, an independent advisor to non-profits, foundations, corporations and trade associations, is excited to join the Insight Center: “For more than 40 years the Insight Center has demonstrated great leadership and an abundance of intellectual capital in producing innovative methods to help communities achieve economic security. I am thrilled to lead this distinguished organization in the next stage of its important work.”

Said Ramos: “I intend to work closely with the Insight Center’s partners in the Foundation and corporate community, as well as with the staff and the Board, to increase our impact during a time when its mission to build economic security for all Americans is more relevant than ever.”

Prior to his appointment at the Insight Center, Ramos served on the program staffs of the Ford Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and the Levi Strauss Foundation. From 2007-2010, he served as director and lead consultant of the Diversity in Philanthropy Project, an initiative of leading U.S. private foundations to increase philanthropic effectiveness through the greater inclusion of multicultural talent in foundation appointments, investments and contracting. He also holds a seat on the Board of Governors of the California Community College system, one of California’s leading generators of workforce and economic development activity. Ramos, a California native, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, an MPA (Master’s in Public Administration) from Harvard University and a JD (Juris Doctorate) from UC Berkeley Law School.

As the seventh president in the Insight Center’s 44-year history, Ramos succeeds Roger Clay Jr., who resigned in May after nine years of leadership to continue to engage in issues of racial and economic justice and equity as a lawyer and consultant. Says Insight Center Board Chairman Bea Stotzer; “On behalf of the Board, I wish to thank Roger Clay for nine years of stewardship at Insight in which he brought in great new talent and expanded the organizational footprint to achieve national recognition as a thought and practice leader. We are very excited about Insight’s future.”

_____________________________________________________________________________

About the Insight Center for Community Economic Development
The Insight Center for Community Economic Development is a national research, consulting, and legal organization dedicated to building economic health in vulnerable communities.

Contact: David Thigpen dthigpen@insightcced.org (510) 251-2600 x107

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

By Titania Kumeh, Los Angeles Times

Some seniors can be ineligible for public aid, a new report says. Even if they got extra funds, the state would still save money by avoiding foster care.

Read the full article.

Category: 2013
Posted by: blim

Today, the Insight Center and UCLA Center for Health Policy Research are proud to release the first-ever Elder Index for the costs associated with seniors raising one, two, or three grandchildren in each California county in a new report called: The High Cost of Caring: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. Simultaneously, we updated the Elder Index for seniors living alone or with a partner.

Please visit http://ww1.insightcced.org for links to the latest county-specific Elder Index data, including the costs of grandparents raising grandchildren.

Below, please find the following fact sheets—and scroll down to the bottom of this email for our press release:


Thanks to my colleagues at the Insight Center (especially Bernard Lim and Alexandra Céspedes Kent), Jenny Chung Mejia, UCLA CHPR (Imelda Padilla-Frausto and Steve Wallace), Spoke Consulting (Erin Fogg), Sikizi Allen, and many other partner organizations who each played critical a role in our Elder Index update, expansion and release! Equally important, we would also like to thank The California Wellness Foundation and the California Community Foundation, without whose support this release would not have been possible.

Please share these new resources with your networks.

Warmly,
Susie Smith
Managing DirectorInsight Center for Community Economic Development (formerly NEDLC)

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

by James Nash

More than a decade after Los Angeles started trying to sidestep California’s affirmative action ban, firms owned by white men won 92 percent of the $2.1 billion in contracts awarded by the city, though they’re just 14 percent of the population.

Read the full article here.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

Mark Koba | Senior Editor, CNBC

The good news is that the payday loan industry appears to be shrinking nationally, as the interest payments in the 33 states that allow these bloodthirsty loans. Payday loans cost the U.S. economy nearly $1 billion and thousands of jobs in 2011, according to a report from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

The study says that the burden of repaying the loans resulted in $774 million in lost consumer spending and 14,000 job losses. Bankruptcies related to payday loans numbered 56,230, taking an additional $169 million out of the economy.

Read the full article.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet.

The good news is that the payday loan industry appears to be shrinking nationally, as the interest payments in the 33 states that allow these bloodthirsty loans have fallen from $6.8 billion in 2007 to $3.3 billion in 2011, a new study by consumer groups found.

But the bad news is that this industry - whose short-term loans have outrageous interest rates that are disguised as fees—is still sucking billions from poor people. And the ripple effect of payments is depleting hundreds of millions from local economies, undermining job creation and pushing people into bankrupcty, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development study found.

Read the full article.

Category: 2013
Posted by: blim
The economic downturn has heightened public awareness about economic insecurity in America. More people care about struggling Americans and more organizations are dedicated to helping people reach a basic level of economic stability. 

Now, more than ever, we need a common understanding and framework of what economic security—or insecurity—means in America.

The Insight Center for Community Economic Development is pleased to publish a report, Measuring Up: Aspirations for Economic Security in the 21st Century, which analyzes the ways in which the U.S. government and others frame, measure and shape the public conversation about what it takes for people to be economically secure.

Specifically, the report looks at multiple indicators including income and assets, and it highlights groups that too often are excluded from the public debate, such as people of color, women, older adults, immigrants, and multi-generational households. We describe how safety net proponents, labor advocates, asset builders, and racial equity leaders use a variety of innovative indicators to make their case.

Please take a look, and join us as we start a conversation to unify our nation around common principles for defining and achieving economic security for all.
Category: Press Releases
Posted by: blim
The payday lending industry produced a net loss of $774 million to the economy in 2011 according to a report by the Insight Center. | Press Release
Category: 2013
Posted by: blim

Managing Director Susie Smith joined an expert panel on CalWORKS for a CA State Assembly  Budget Subcommittee on March 13, 2013. Smith testified that the maximum CalWORKS benefit for a family of three gets families to only 39% of the Federal Poverty Thresholds and to only 29% of the Supplemental Poverty Measure. Listen to her testimony, beginning at 1:57.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

By By MARTHA MENDOZA, Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — On a morning the stock market was sailing to a record high and a chilly storm was blowing into Silicon Valley, Wendy Carle stuck her head out of the tent she calls home to find city workers duct taping an eviction notice to her flimsy, flapping shelter walls.

Read the full article.

Category: Press Releases
Posted by: blim

February 20, 2013

Dear Colleague:

I am writing today to share some important news. After 9 years of outstanding leadership to the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, Roger Clay has decided that he will step down as President and CEO, effective with the selection of his successor. 

Roger intends to continue to be engaged with the issues of economic and racial justice and equity that have been central to Insight’s work during his tenure. It has been our good fortune to have had Roger guiding the Insight Center for most of the past decade and we look forward to continued collaboration toward those goals.

In 2003, Roger was appointed President of what was then the National Economic Development and Law Center. Roger’s tenure with Insight has been characterized by these words: excellence, continuous development, and growth. Under his leadership, the organization became The Insight Center for Community Economic Development, clarified its mission of removing systemic and institutional barriers that create or maintain economic insecurity, focused its programs on building both income and assets as the key to achieving economic security in economically vulnerable communities, and raised its national profile and influence.

Ever the responsible leader, Roger has discussed his plans with the board for some time, allowing us to undertake this transition with adequate time, planning and care. As we write this, we are well on our way towards recruiting Roger’s successor. The board has appointed a transition committee, developed a transition plan and engaged a consultant to help us manage the executive search and transition.

The Transition Committee is chaired by former board member Paul C. Hudson, Past Chairman and CEO of Broadway Federal Bank. Other committee members are Board Chair Bea Stotzer, CEO of New Capital, LLC; Prudence Beidler Carr, Esq, Vice-Chair; and former board member John Foster-Bey, CEO of CSR, Incorporated. We have engaged David Erickson-Pearson, an executive search consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the community development arena to assist us with the search. Please click on the links below to see the Position Profile and Description.

We are confident that our capable, committed staff and dedicated board of directors will continue to move the Insight Center toward our goal of helping people and communities become and remain economically secure. We ask you to join us in conveying to Roger our heartfelt thanks, as well as wishes for good fortune and much success in his future endeavors.

Best wishes,

Bea Stotzer, Chair

Category: 2013
Posted by: blim

In collaboration with the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative, the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University released a report quantifying the drivers of the increasing racial wealth gap over the past quarter-century. Click here for an archived webinar describing the policy ramifications.

Category: 2013
Posted by: blim

Many Americans see the existence of a black middle class and the first African American president as symbols of a post-racial America where discrimination has been vanquished. But a growing body of research suggests that a very different reality lies behind the symbols – one where the invisible hand of public policies and economic forces have a decidedly racial impact, leaving millions of hard-working, people of color unable to catch up to their white counterparts.  

In a persuasive new report released this week, Thomas Shapiro of Brandeis University’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy finds that over the last two decades the gap between the net worth of white households and African American households has widened. In 2009 the median wealth of a white household was $113,149. The median wealth of a black household? $5,677.

Wealth --  “what you own minus what you owe” – as Shapiro defines it, is a bellwether of economic health, reflecting a family’s economic security as measured in assets such as homeownership and savings accounts. Where income provides resources for short term needs, wealth provides resources for families to plan for their future -- like paying for college, launching a business, or buying a house. A widening racial wealth gap indicates that far from moving toward a post-racial society, we are in fact moving in the opposite direction, toward a society of haves and have nots, cleaved along racial lines.

The report, entitled Why is America’s Racial Wealth Gap Growing? builds on Shapiro’s previous research, including his groundbreaking study with Melvin Oliver, Black Wealth, White Wealth (2006) to argue that our present policies are failing us. In a country that is becoming more racially diverse, the current course is a prescription for increasing economic inequality, decreasing productivity, slow economic growth, and its handmaiden – political conflict. The gap is less a result of personal behavioral choices than it is of barriers and restricted opportunities that work against people of color, says Shapiro.

For anyone who believes the economy is a free-market meritocracy where success trickles down, the report’s data should come as quite a shock. Between 1984 and 2009, years which saw two of the longest running bull markets in history, the gap between African Americans and whites tripled, from $85,000 to $236,000. While the wealth of white households has accelerated, the wealth of black households has not. Tracking the fortunes of a set of families over this 25-year period, Shapiro isolates five factors driving the gap: homeownership, household income, unemployment, inheritance and education.    

Homeownership, the largest driver of the racial wealth gap, is 28% higher for whites than for blacks. For African Americans, difficult access to credit means spending less on their homes than whites. Those who do access credit pay more for it. And once they move into their homes, residential segregation draws down values in African American neighborhoods.   
The household income gap results from African Americans clustering in low-wage occupations. But even at higher levels, due to discrimination, blacks receive less pay for comparable work than whites. This puts pressure on income, making savings and investing difficult:  every $1 increase in income for blacks leads to 69 cents of wealth, but for whites $1 creates $5 in wealth. 

Unemployment affects African Americans at twice the rate it affects whites, and African Americans are far more likely to deplete savings after loss of a job.
Inheritance is a driver that plays a significant role in the economic life of white families but is almost non-existent among African Americans. Whites are five times more likely to inherit financial resources than blacks, and when they do, they inherit amounts ten times larger. 

Education rewards both African Americans and whites with wealth but whites derive greater wealth from the same degree. This is in part due to workplace discrimination, but debt also plays a role as blacks commonly lose a larger portion of their income to the repayment of tuition debt. 80% of blacks graduate with student debt versus 64% of whites.
In identifying these drivers, Why is America’s Racial Wealth Gap Growing? also offers guidance to policymakers on where to focus remedies. Will Washington take notice? Although it is unrealistic to expect to quickly close a gap that has been long in the making, setting a goal of creating policies that will help move greater numbers of people of color closer toward economic security is a strong starting point.

What would economic security look like? In broad strokes, it is not much different from what is widely thought of as the American dream: ownership of a home, a steady job that provides a middle class standard of living, some savings, a retirement account or pension, and access to quality education for offspring.  
Key ways of moving the country closer to this goal include income-building, asset-building and wealth-protecting policies such as:

  • Adopt a realistic national standard of economic security to better measure true costs of living and asset-poverty, allowing policymakers to coordinate efforts and set targets
  • Protect the wealth-protecting safety nets of Medicare and Social Security
  • Expand proven job-producing and income-raising strategies such as school to job pipelines for people of color
  • Provide greater capital access and investment and opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses
  • Adopt methods that evaluate the economic impact of policies and programs on low-income populations of color before they become law
  • Improve college affordability and widen availability of inexpensive educational financing 

 

All of these efforts should be coordinated as part of a   national sustained effort at closing the racial wealth gap, where government policymakers, academics, business leaders and communities collaborate in a collective effort to highlight and implement solutions to this urgent problem. That’s a winning prescription to free America’s bottled up productivity, reverse our slide, and usher in the broader prosperity that lies within our reach.

David E. Thigpen is Vice President for Policy and Strategic Advancement at the Insight Center in Oakland, California

Category: 2013
Posted by: blim

An Open Letter to African-Americans (PDF)

Although we acknowledge the deep support President Obama received from many groups and from the American people generally, African-Americans were a critical constituency both nationally and in battleground states such as Ohio, where African-American turnout increased from 2008 and whose vote share was greater than its share of the electorate as a whole. Congratulations and thanks to us all for helping re-elect the President and for all the other progressive changes that we helped usher in on Election Day. The entire world will benefit from our actions and the future will be brighter for all.

Before you turn away from the long and sometimes exhausting political season, there is one more thing we must do. It is vital that we state and more forcefully insist that President Obama and Congress begin to address the critical needs of the black community. There has been a deafening silence from both the White House and Congress about the needs of our community as well as from us.

With few exceptions, we have not been vocal or organized as to what we as citizens and strong supporters of the President should require or even expect from our government.
We should not expect President Obama to be responsive to us just because he is black, but rather because he is president. The fact that we supported him to become president just adds to the strength of this position.

In a democracy, the government must be responsive to the needs of the people. People have different needs. It should not strike us as strange that the LGBT community expects the president to be responsive to their demands. Nor should we be surprised when he responds favorably. The same is true for Latinos, labor and other groups. While the president and Congress need to respond to all Americans, there is often an expectation and understanding that supporters of policy makers will be given at least an audience and serious consideration, if not more. Detractors often refer to this as advocacy for special interests, but our motto e pluribus unum, “one out of the many,” recognizes that each distinct part of our country is essential to the whole.

As President Obama is the first African-American president, much of the country is more than a little excited when talking about race or more particularly African-Americans. The right wing can talk about Obama as a food stamp president or how he may not really be American. We knew such attacks on the president and the black community often had serious racial overtones. Yet, if this observation was made, not only would they deny these accusations, they would cry foul: that critics were playing “the race card.” With the heat turned up we would, too often, shrink from the conversation.

Many African-American leaders worried that if Obama or we join the public discussion of race, it would make it more difficult for the president to get re-elected or govern. While there may have been some support for this concern, one need only recall the flak the President received following his comments on the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates. Some believed this concern was overstated, but, in any case, we are now beyond the election. We should no longer let the right-wing control the racial narrative about us or the president while we quietly express frustration, but remain publicly invisible. We must talk about race and other issues that affect us, but in a skillful manner. But we also need to go beyond talk and move to action.

Some policy makers and at times even the president have suggested that the best way to address black needs is to bury them in universal strategies, assuming that we will benefit without drawing attention to race. While this may have some political appeal, too often it does not work. Researchers have concluded that universal strategies too often miss the mark. The simple reason is that different groups are situated differently.

Consider the goal of moving everyone from the first floor to the fifth floor of a building, and that the means of conveyance is an escalator. For most people, an escalator will suffice. For a person in a wheelchair, an escalator is useless. Nor would anyone insist that tide walls built for New York also be built in Kansas. The strategy employed must be mindful of how people are situated in the world. Universal approaches fail in this regard.

For more than 50 years experts have known that neighborhood conditions influence life chances. African-Americans are more likely than their white counterparts to live in neighborhoods where the majority of people are low income. This creates multiple challenges that are not experienced as much or in the same degree as other groups. A simple universal policy that does not appreciate or attend to these differences will as likely exacerbate as reduce inequality.

There is another problem with the apparently race-neutral universal approach: it acquiesces to anxiety about race, and in practice, is likely to have a negative racial impact. While many Democrats have tried to avoid discussions of race, some Republicans have been stoking white racial anxiety for political gain. This has been the most extreme in the South, so much so that at one point the chairman of the Republican National Committee acknowledged that they were deliberately stoking racial anxiety and resentment toward blacks to activate their base and generate support. This approach has been labeled the “Southern Strategy”, which has been used to drive the South into the right wing camp of the Republican Party since the ‘60s. More recently, the approach has been called dog whistle racism, where coded phrases are used to transmit signals to a right-wing, resentful white base that politicians are sensitive to and even supportive of their racial resentment, while at the same time having a position of deniability for more moderate whites.

President Reagan gave his the first post-convention speech of his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where civil rights workers had been killed, promising to restore “states rights” and local control. Similarly talk of food stamps, welfare, government dependence and the inner city have all been used as a dog whistle to resentful whites. Democrats have too often felt the need to move away from the concerns of blacks -- even if those needs were found to be legitimate and good policy -- in order to try to hold on to support of white resentful voters. When one looks at the solid red south on an electoral map it is clear this Republican strategy is built on racial anxiety, and that resentment has been effective in winning the South. The good news is that those strategies are no longer enough to win the White House. The Republican Party knows it must look for more voters and be more inclusive. They have not looked our way.

There is little doubt that race continues to define many aspects of American life including where we live, go to school, severity of criminal laws and employment, notwithstanding Obama’s impressive achievements.

If universal strategies do not usually work, what is the alternative? What we usually turn to are targeted strategies. But this is also a very limited approach. This approach is likely to be seen as requesting special treatment, ignoring the needs of others and divisive. But an even more important reason that targeted strategies fail is that they usually do not command the political support to get them enacted or see them sustained over time.

During the current downturn, there was a period when unemployment went down for the general population and increased for the African American population. At one point the Congressional Black Caucus tried to get President Obama to focus on central cities and the black community. The President responded that he was President of the entire country and could not focus on the black community. The President’s response does not acknowledge the unique situation and disparate position of the black community.

Policymakers too often adopt a universal strategy instead of a universal goal. The Congressional Black Caucus could have asked for a universal goal while acknowledging that there were hard hit areas being underserved or central cities that were being left behind by a universal, national strategy. The goal could be to get unemployment below 6%, with no community having an unemployment rate of 50% higher than the national average. Still, some may protest that this is an approach targeted to help the black community. The response should be that this approach is designed to help everyone, and to ensure that no group is left behind, including the black community.

There are exceptions to the limitations of targeted strategies, and we may be witnessing such an exception with Latinos and the issue of immigration. Latinos are currently viewed by both Democrats and Republicans as a critical constituency in both this election and in elections to come. Even though blacks still make up a larger percentage of voters than Latinos (13% and 10%, respectively) we are not seen as important. There are a number of reasons for this. On the Democratic side, for more than a half century, we have been the most loyal group to Democrats. Groups that support a party are often given an audience and particular consideration. But this is not always the case, especially if the group can be taken for granted.
Another reason is that part of the successful Southern Strategy by Republicans was to point out to whites that Democrats were responsive to blacks in the ‘60s, playing on white resentment. Democrats effectively decided to create distance or at least ambivalence toward the needs of the black community based not on the ‘ask’ of the black community, but on concern for possible white resentment. We have not fully moved beyond the politics of resentment by Republicans and silence by Democrats. But this election suggests the country is changing. So even though Romney won the white vote by more than 20%, he lost the election. It is no longer an effective strategy at the national level to rely entirely on the white vote, nor will stoking the fires of white resentment produce a majority in national elections.

Let us turn to our ‘ask’. It is important that we advance our requests in a way that creates a focused list of priorities that can be framed as important for the entire country. This does not mean that these requests need a universal strategy, but they do require universal goals. The strategy to achieve these goals and implementation should be based on our situation and needs. We call this targeted universalism. The goal is universal, but the strategy is targeted and tailored to our circumstances.

What might this targeted universalism be? There are a number of possibilities. Here we suggest a few, but it is more important that we come together as part of a network and movement to address this question. The ask must be part of a movement of sustained pressure on the administration and the Congress, and must bring us together. Two possibilities for targeted universalism are employment and housing. Note that employment has already been singled out as a national issue. It is therefore easy to make the case that the goal of addressing employment is universal. What is missing is the understanding that unless employment solutions are also targeted to communities that are most impacted by high unemployment, we may have a strategy that works for the majority of Americans and leaves blacks with double-digit unemployment. A targeted universalism approach to unemployment is likely to benefit other groups also left out by universal strategies, such as rural whites, young people, and others.

Targeted universalist strategies are likely to include other groups as well as blacks, and this is a good thing, but it is critical that African-Americans not be left out for political or other reasons. The possibility of exclusion suggests that we not only make an ask, but that we organize and have a seat at the table. We must communicate our needs to the President, Congress and our statehouses, but we might start with black organizations and leaders already charged with representing our collective interest. These discussions have already begun. So let’s move beyond the celebration, and tell the President and Congress that we will not allow them to take us or our vote for granted, and that we are more than a political pawn. We, too, are Americans.

Sincerely,

john powell,
Executive Director
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society,
University of California, Berkeley

Paul Hudson,
Managing Director,
Hudson & Holland Advisors, LLC

Eva Paterson,
President,
Equal Justice Society

Roger A. Clay, Jr.,
President,
Insight Center for Community Economic Development

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

David Thigpen, The Huffington Post.

In recent years American workers have reluctantly gained a forced familiarity with the discouraging new vocabulary of these hazardous economic times. "Skills mismatch," "hiring freeze," "outsourcing," "underemployment" and other such words and phrases have become watchwords for a workforce that in less than a generation has tumbled from productivity and job security to declining wages and widespread job insecurity. In the last five years these workers have taken it on the chin like no other generation before them, with layoffs at their peak pushing some 14 million people into unemployment lines, many of them without the education or credentials to make an easy return.

Read the essay.

Category: 2012
Posted by: blim

On September 12, 2012, the Japan Intercultural Academy of Municipalities, located near Kyoto, Japan, selected Insight Center as a site to send a delegation of municipal officials to train in strategies for community and municipal economic improvement.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

David Thigpen, The Huffington Post.

Elders are revered for their experience and wisdom in many cultures around the globe, but here in America where our civic, media and business cultures worship at the fountain of youth, elders are seen in quite a different light. Age is frequently seen as a disadvantage. Despite a wealth of experience, many men and women over the age of 65 face discrimination in the workplace and society at large. On the streets of our cities and towns elders are conspicuous yet invisible, often dismissed as has-beens whose productivity and contributions have long ago receded.

Read the Op Ed.

Category: Op Ed
Posted by: blim

David Thigpen, The Huffington Post.

Once upon a time, like clockwork, workers in their late 50s and early 60s could begin looking forward to their golden years of retirement. Not anymore. New numbers published by the U.S Department of Labor confirm a trend that has long been visible in retail stores, factories, restaurants and offices everywhere: older workers are holding onto their jobs well beyond what was once considered retirement age, and often not by choice.

Read the Op Ed.

Category: 2012
Posted by: blim

Get PAID, Not Played. Peninisula Advocates Investigating Debt-Traps.

Watch the video here.

Category: Media Outlets
Posted by: blim

Tavis Smiley

Broadcaster Tavis Smiley convened a panel, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the AARP Foundation, of thought leaders and advocates to explore how to restore prosperity in America. Panelists include Roger A. Clay, Jr, President, Insight Center for Community Economic Development, Cornel West, author and professor at Princeton University; Suze Orman, financial advisor and television host; Michael Moore, filmmaker; and Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.

Watch the forum.

Category: ECE
Posted by: ashambrook

The Insight Center for Community Economic Development helped with the development of the new federal bill H.R. 1685, The Child Care Facilities Financing Act of 2009.

On February 4, 2009, the Insight Center hosted a Webinar, "Creating Spaces for Children: The Importance of High Quality ECE Facilities."

Category: Small Business Climate
Posted by: tlohrentz

Last week I attended a statewide small business crisis summit sponsored by the California Reinvestment Coalition, with the main audience being nonprofit providers of business services and financing, including many community development financial institutions. One of the purposes of the summit was to create a unified voice around the need for the federal stimulus package to address the needs of small businesses in California, and, eventually, in the U.S.

The main problem that small businesses here are facing is the lack of financing. This is especially true of the credit typically used for cash flow - line of credit and credit cards, where maximums are being dramatically reduced. Thus business-owners are at their maximum allowable on their credit cards; forcing down their credit scores and making it even harder to secure financing.  Financial institutions are concerned about the next bubble to burst, the commercial real estate market, so they are not lending even if they received TARP.

Small business development providers are needing to teach businesses, including very well established businesses, survival techniques and crisis management. Saving a small business could save dozens of jobs, even if a few employees need to be cut in the meantime. While this is the worst climate to start a business, many unemployed people are forced to start microenterprises as a matter of survival and there is a need to provide services to these folks. While financing for existing businesses has dramatically declined, it is basically non-existant for start-ups.

One point that the summit stressed, and that I strongly concur with, is the need to ensure that the stimulus package and the associated public contracting and procurement process:

  • have unbundled contracts and small-sized RFPs that M/WBEs are able to bid on, whether as a prime or sub.
  • maintain affirmative procurement measures per federal guidelines, while money going to states and local governments should also include those provisions. (Unfortunately, the first federal bailout waived most federal procurement standards.)

I add my voice to the summit leaders who will be telling Congress that federal support needs to include:

  • "Operating funds for nonprofit community-based organizations to run programs in danger of severe cutbacks or elimination due to the cuts in previous funding.
  • Investment funds for nonprofit community lenders’ loan pools and loan loss reserves [as well as for credit unions]. (These lenders are not able to access any of the TARP funds.)
  • Authorizing nonprofit community lenders as SBA guarantors since few financial institutions are fully utilizing their SBA 7(a), Community Express, or Micro Loan programs.
  • A secondary market for small business loans from community lenders to enable continued lending."
Category: Events and Webinars
Posted by: tlohrentz

The Inclusive Business Initiative is sponsoring a webinar from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm, Pacific, on Thursday, Dec. 4, "Keep the Momentum Moving! Planning to ensure your program continues strong in the face of change." Registration for the webinar is free although the call-in number is a toll number.

Presenters:

Angel McCormick Franks
Director, Missouri Office of Supplier and Workforce Diversity

Teo Tijerina
Executive Director, EDCO Ventures, Austin, Texas
  Jeff Jones
Sr. Vice President, Bank of America Supply Chain Management

This webinar will address how to create structures and processes that ensure that your program maintains its strength in the face of change, whether that is a change in executive, key staff, or Board, loss in funding, a natural disaster, or major downturn in the economy.  More information...

Category: Inclusive Business Initiative
Posted by: tlohrentz

The Insight Center's Inclusive Business Initiative is excited to announce that Director Tim Lohrentz will be a featured blogger, called 'The State of WBE,' for the US Women's Business Journal, an online e-zine of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce.  In a blog entry written prior to the election, Tim outlined state ballot measures that threatened to end affirmative action in Colorado and Nebraska.  In his latest entry, Tim described how Colorado voters rejected the ballot measure, in part led by women and minority business associations, including the Hispanic Contractors of Colorado.

Category: ECE
Posted by: jheard
Read about President-Elect Barack Obama's plan for early education.

State and national ECE advocates have developed An Agenda for High-Quality Child Care.

On October 14, 2008, the Insight Center hosted a webinar for mayors and other municipal leaders in New Jersey: “Children Are Community: Creating Family-Friendly Cities for Young Children.”

Representative George Miller wrote an Op-Ed in Washington DC’s The Hill on September 16, 2008, about the importance of public investment for early care and education.
Category: Affirmative Action on the Ballot
Posted by: tlohrentz

The Winter 2008 issue of Ms magazine has three articles related to the attempts to severely restrict affirmative action programs through ballot measures in five states this November. I hope you check out the articles in Ms., which will later become available online. An organizational colleague, Monique Morris of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at UC Berkeley School of Law, is featured prominently, highlighting the research that the Henderson Center completed last fall.

We also are working to share our research on the impact of Proposition 209 in California and Initiative 200 in Washington with public agencies and advocates in Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, the five states targeted by the ballot measure proponents. One colleague in one of the states recently assessed that it will take a major organizing and communications effort to counter the ballot measure proponents since there is so much misinformation out there already.

I have recently seen a number of OpEds from conservatives such as George Will blasting affirmative action and stating that the results of the five ballot initiatives would be more important than the Presidential elections. In fact, he said, the candidacies of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton prove that affirmative action is no longer necessary. Will’s logic is flawed. The example of a few gifted people to reach national prominence does not negate the persistent barriers that most people of color and most women still face in many public and private arenas. As we emphasized in our December 2007 state policy report, “state governments [and other public agencies] create affirmative procurement programs in order to remove barriers to state contracts faced by minority- or women-owned businesses, barriers that white male-owned businesses usually do not face and large corporations almost never face.”

Unfortunately, it is harder to get the message out if you are not George Will. For example, how well known is it that procurement in Washington from minority business enterprises (MBEs) and women business enterprises (WBEs) fell precipitously after the passage of Initiative 200? State procurement from MBEs had been 5.7% of total state discretionary spending in the two years prior to Initiative 200, while WBE procurement had been 5.2%. Due to the ballot measure, these rates fell dramatically for six consecutive years, until by 2004 they reached an abysmal 0.7% for MBEs and 1.0% for WBEs. The barriers to state procurement for MBEs and WBEs are very real. Washington has realized that there is a problem and to its credit is slowly turning those numbers around with a voluntary supplier diversity program. However, because the state can not use race or gender as a consideration when determining contracts or sub-contracts, the state may never be able to totally overcome the barriers faced by MBEs and WBEs.

A recent LA Times article quotes Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.” Sadly, the continuing evidence from around the country suggests that 25 years from today another Justice could be making a similar quote.

Category: Corporations and M/WBEs
Posted by: tlohrentz

The Federal Communications Commission adopted three proposals yesterday. The first has measures to encourage media to be more responsive to local communities. The second rule attempts to increase diversity in media, through financing mechanisms, a diversity guidebook, and other minor measures. The third measure allows a newspaper to also own a radio or television station in the 20 largest markets.

The second rule applies mainly to small businesses, as defined by the SBA. The SBA small business size standard is $6.5 million in annual sales/receipts for radio stations or networks, $13 million for a television station, and a maximum of 500 employees for a newspaper publisher. I am not an expert on the media, but I wonder how realistic it is for a radio or television station of that size or smaller to compete in the major media markets, even if financing opens up somewhat.

In addition, the third measure facilitates the trend toward the consolidation of media ownership and seems to contradict the spirit and purpose of the first two measures passed by the FCC. Dissenting FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps agrees:

"Women and minorities own low single-digit percentages of America’s broadcast outlets…. We are told to be content with baby steps to help women and minorities—but the fine print shows that the real beneficiaries will be small businesses owned by white men. So even as it becomes abundantly clear that the real cause of the disenfranchisement of women and minorities is media consolidation, we give the green light to a new round of—yes, you guessed it—media consolidation."

On December 17, Rep. Edward Markey released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) preliminary letter on media ownership issues, including diversity, in 16 media markets. The GAO letter references a Free Press study that shows that 5% of commercial television stations are owned by women and 3% are owned by minorities. These numbers are low, but in reality are slightly higher than the market share of women and minorities in the economy overall (4.2% for women and 2.9% for minorities). The problem is not specific to the media sector.

As we note in the Introduction of our 50-state study, the primary reason for the low and declining market share of WBEs and MBEs is not due to competition from white male-owned privately-held companies, but rather from publicly-held corporations. This is even more exaggerated in the media sector. According to the Census Bureau 2002 Survey of Business Owners, publicly-held corporations had a market share of 74.2% in Publishing (NAICS 511) and 73.5% in Broadcasting (NAICS 515). The market share of publicly-held corporations in all industries is 61.1%.

Commissioner Copps, again:

"Powerful companies are using political muscle to sneak through rule changes that let them profit at the expense of the public interest. They are seeking to improve their economic prospects by capturing a larger percentage of the news business in communities all across the United States."

Category: Inclusive Business Initiative
Posted by: tlohrentz

Welcome to the launch of the InBiz website, a key component of our Inclusive Business Initiative. In addition to providing information not readily available elsewhere, we hope that this site becomes a source of discussion and sharing by the leaders in the inclusive business field. Please check out the InBiz Forum on a regular basis in addition to the InBiz Blog and the rest of the website.

I would like to briefly introduce myself - my name is Tim Lohrentz - and I will be one of the primary bloggers here. I have been at the Insight Center (formerly NEDLC) for nearly four years and work on a variety of projects in workforce development, cooperative development, social enterprise, and inclusive business development. I was one of the lead researchers for a report creating a strategic approach for The Cleveland Foundation to support minority business development in the Cleveland metropolitan region. That work has led the Insight Center - and me along with it - down the path of creating the Inclusive Business Initiative.

The InBiz Blog will serve many purposes. First, it will help us keep visitors up to date with what is happening on the website, since we hope to be adding features, new data, and new links on a continual basis. Second, it provides us with an opportunity to share information and opinions related to research, events, political trends, and new inclusive business programs in the private, public or nonprofit sector.