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Cincinnati to join initiative supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gates Foundation, Ballmer Group

Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group have announced that Cincinnati is one of 10 American cities that will participate in a new national initiative to identify, pilot, and measure the success of interventions to accelerate economic mobility for their residents.

Over the next 18 months, Cincinnati will engage employers to innovate and adopt practices that remove barriers for low-income workers to succeed at work and advance their lives. In December of 2018, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber launched the Workforce Innovation Center, designed to be a central hub to solve business challenges. 

“The Workforce Innovation Center at the Cincinnati Chamber leverages one of the region’s strongest resources, our corporate community, to drive positive changes for employees to move up the economic ladder while also growing their business,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. “These efforts will benefit our community at all levels and especially those seeking to advance their lives.”

“The Workforce Innovation Center connects employers to social service and training providers that serve individuals to remove barriers and prepare them to be successful in the workplace,” said Audrey Treasure, Cincinnati Chamber vice president and executive director of Cincinnati’s Workforce Innovation Center. “It also consults with companies to implement practices that support their employees as part of their business strategies,”“Through these efforts, the Workforce Innovation Center is fostering a regional network of businesses that practice inclusive capitalism, encouraging companies to participate in creating opportunities for all in the Cincinnati Region to thrive.”

The defining characteristic of the American Dream is upward mobility, but new data from Opportunity Insights shows that the current generation’s chances of earning more than their parents are declining. In many communities, young people and families face significant barriers to climbing the economic ladder based on the neighborhoods in which they live. 

The new national initiative, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group, seeks to respond to the strong demand among local leaders for new, more effective interventions to address rising income inequality and declining economic mobility.

In Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2018 American Mayors Survey – the largest comprehensive public-opinion survey of mayors and city managers – one of their top concerns was the challenge of providing more and better economic opportunities for all residents.

Cincinnati was selected through a competitive process that looked at local commitment to addressing economic mobility, willingness to use data and evidence to accelerate progress, and ability to dedicate a team to accomplish the initiative’s goals.

The initiative is supported by a $12 million investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group that was announced last fall.

Over the next 18 months, Cincinnati will develop, pilot, and measure the early impacts of engaging the region’s companies in implementing new practices and partnering with social service and training providers designed to help improve residents’ long-term economic mobility.

Cincinnati will also work closely with other cities participating in the initiative to share lessons and experiences to further advance the work and build a model for future collaboration among cities on the topic. 

Cincinnati staff from the Mayor’s Office, the  Office of Performance & Data Analytics, and the Cincinnati Chamber have already begun working with a team of advisors from Results for America and the Behavioral Insights Team,. Both are partners in What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative that helps cities confront urgent challenges through data- and evidence-based decision-making.

Cincinnati city staff will deepen their data skills and strengthen their ability to deliver results to residents with the help of experts from other What Works Cities partners, including Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence, the Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab and the Sunlight Foundation.

Additionally, Opportunity Insights at Harvard University is helping Cincinnati staff draw insights regarding economic mobility in the community using data from the Opportunity Atlas, an interactive resource developed in collaboration with the U.S. Census Bureau.

The ten cities participating in the economic mobility initiative are Albuquerque, NM; Cincinnati, OH; Dayton, OH; Detroit, MI; Lansing, MI; New Orleans, LA; Newark, NJ; Racine, WI; Rochester, NY; and Tulsa, OK.

Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

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