An Economic Mobility Q&A

Beginning in June, CICF fund holders have been gathering monthly with our community leadership and effective philanthropy experts to engage in deeper conversations around the organization’s new mission and strategic initiatives. Last month, our session focused on two of the initiatives in Marion County— economic mobility and dismantling systemic racism.

After attending the session, one of our attendees said it was, “a wealth of new information about economic mobility.” The effective philanthropy team wants to make this information accessible to as many donors as possible. Several key learnings during our time together are highlighted here, and additionally, we recorded a the presentation to help you explore the subject further (view it here).

Q: How is economic mobility defined?

A: Economic mobility is defined as the ability of an individual, family or some other group to improve (or lower) their economic status – usually measured in income. Economic mobility is often measured by whether or not a person is able to do better economically than their parents.

Q: Why is CICF focusing on economic mobility?

A: Research from the Opportunity Insights Project reveals staggering statistics in our community:

  • Of the top 50 U.S. cities, Indianapolis ranks 46th in economic mobility for its poorest residents.
  • The lowest income children in Indianapolis have a 4.8% chance of progressing to the top 20% income bracket.
  • For children of color, that percentage is nearly cut in half.

Q: What factors contribute to upward economic mobility?

A: The most successful American communities for positive economic mobility for low-income populations demonstrated 1) a high percentage of two-parent households; 2) low levels of income and racial segregation and access to middle class neighborhoods; 3) access to early childhood education and quality K-12 education, opportunities for civic engagement; and 4) lower violent crime/better public safety.

The upshot is this: Research shows us that too many residents are living in poverty, and a disproportionate number of those residents are people of color and live in neighborhoods with compounded challenges. Industries are struggling to meet workforce talent demands. Promising jobs are available, but because the people who need these jobs are not qualified to fill them, we must improve our educational systems and correct course. For the region to remain viable, we will require creative interventions that provide bridges from PreK-12 to high quality, post-secondary credentials.

If you share a passion to support this work alongside us or would like to learn about the specific ways in which CICF is responding, we invite you to explore the presentation video and/or contact your effective philanthropy officer. Our team is working closely with our expert community leadership team to answer your questions. We welcome your input as our valued strategic partners, and urge you to attend the remaining education sessions as we continue our community conversations.


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