Category Archives: Politics and Policy

Baltimore and Beyond: Creating Opportunity in Places – Brookings Institution Forum

For links to Video, Audio & Transcript: http://www.brookings.edu/events/2015/05/21-baltimore-and-beyond

Informative and insightful forum hosted by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, “featuring hands-on experts to reflect on promising practices to help young people and families in distressed communities participate in an advanced economy that works for all.”

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May 21, 2015

Summary: “Recent events in Baltimore and St. Louis underscore the enduring challenges the nation faces in trying to create neighborhoods of opportunity amid entrenched poverty, long-term disinvestment, and stark racial divides. Baltimore was an early pioneer in applying new comprehensive approaches to neighborhood revitalization. Since then, the practice of joining people- and place-based strategies has evolved, driven by both public and private sector leaders. The Great Recession has reversed progress in some ways as unemployment, foreclosures, and stagnant wages increased poverty. As the nation now focuses on its struggling urban areas, it is critical to broadly examine what cities, counties, and the nation have learned since the redevelopment of Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood….”

Featuring:

Welcome by Jennifer S. Vey, Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program

Panel Discussion

Amy Liu (Moderator) — Co-Director and Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program

Derek Douglas — Vice President for Civic Engagement, The University of Chicago

Frederick B. (Bart) Harvey III — Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Community Partners

Joel Miranda — Director of Leadership Development and Graduate Leadership, YouthBuild USA

Donald Hinkle-Brown — President/CEO, The Reinvestment Fund

Michael Smith — Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for ‘My Brother’s Keeper’, The White House

Related:

Los Angeles 1992 to Baltimore 2015: Washington’s Changed Response to Urban CrisisBruce Katz. Brookings Institution. May 27, 2015.

Beyond Baltimore: Building on What We Know to Create Neighborhood Opportunities. Amy Liu. Brookings Institution. May 12, 2015.

Yes, There Are Two Baltimores. Jennifer S. Vey and Alan Berube. Brookings Institution. May 15, 2015.

Good Fortune, Dire Poverty, and Inequality in Baltimore: An American Story. Alan Berube and Brad McDearman. Brookings Institution. May 11, 2015.

 

Closing the Racial Wealth Gap – The 2015 Color of Wealth Summit

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The 2015 Color of Wealth Summit, organized by the Center for Global Policy Solutions (CGPS) and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development (ICCED), was held at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on April 30, 2015.

The annual summit seeks to “engage Members of Congress, Congressional staff, the media, and the public in a dialogue about the racial wealth gap, its effect on marginalized households, its impact on the U.S. economy, and solutions for closing the gap.”

The informative and insightful sessions featured, among others: Members of Congress, policy researchers, economists, academics, and nonprofit, community development, financial and media professionals.

Watch videos of sessions here: http://globalpolicysolutions.org/2015colorofwealthsummit/

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Pooling Our Resources to Foster Black Progress: An Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing Framework

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Check out the new book, Pooling Our Resources to Foster Black Progress: An Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing Framework. The book:

  • Examines the great potential with respect to the powerful nexus among: black earning/buying/investing power, philanthropy and resource-pooling, buying/banking black, entrepreneurship, business development, job creation, wealth-building, and economic and social progress 
  • Shows how a potent, large-scale resource-pooling vehicle with a comprehensive framework that is able to harness this potential, especially with the galvanizing power of online and social media, can have immense impact 
  • Presents a framework for establishing such an initiative, in the form of a national impact investment fund — the “Excellence and Ventures Transformation Fund” (or “EXCEL-TRANSFORM Fund”) — that would address unemployment and poverty and help finish the “unfinished business” of the civil rights movement.

[Full disclosure: the author, Dr. Michael Isimbabi, a finance and energy industry professional, consultant, and former professor of finance, is affiliated with this website.]

Look inside the book (the first 10%) for free and get it here (at Amazon.com): http://www.amazon.com/POOLING-RESOURCES-FOSTER-BLACK-PROGRESS-ebook/dp/B00HTWJ8BY.

Also join the discussion on the feasibility and establishment of the EXCEL-TRANSFORM Fund, innovative strategies for self-reliant resource-pooling, and related philanthropy, entrepreneurship, impact investing and empowerment issues at the book’s website, www.PoolingOurResources.com, and Google Plus.

Lisa Hall, President/CEO of Calvert Foundation, on the Potential of Impact Investing to Transform Underserved Communities

Excerpts: Lisa Hall, President/CEO of Calvert Foundation, on the potential of impact investing to transform underserved communities

LisaHall-239x164Lisa Hall of the Calvert Foundation on Impact Investing: An In-depth Interview. Forbes.com. October 20, 2011.

….Rahim Kanani: How can we convince traditional investors to reevaluate their portfolios and consider social impact investing?

Lisa Hall: I thought about this a lot at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual conference, where I spoke about impact investing and the widening wealth gap. During the past few years, our economy has suffered greatly and yet the wealth keeps building at the top. Impact investment creates a virtuous circle of empowerment, opportunity, and engagement by connecting investors, underprivileged individuals, and communities. We need more people to get involved in impact investing because it is a critical part of the solution to closing the wealth gap. ….

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Lisa Hall on How Calvert Foundation is Democratizing Impact Investing. Forbes.com. December 17, 2012.

Sixteen years ago, Calvert Foundation was born of a seemingly improbable idea: using investment dollars to help end poverty.

Today, investment banks describe impact investing as an “emerging asset class”;… the impact investing market is estimated to raise at least $500 billion in the next decade;…and according to Calvert Foundation’s recent research survey, 72 percent of financial advisors are interested in offering impact investing products to clients….

Impact investing is undoubtedly an idea whose time has come. As budgets of philanthropies and governments have shrunk, investment capital has come to be recognized as a tool that can address some of the world’s most pressing problems.…..

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BET Founder Robert L. Johnson’s “RLJ Rule” to Increase Employment Opportunities for African Americans

Robert-L.-Johnson-CNBCRobert L. Johnson Urges President Obama to Encourage U.S. Businesses to Adopt Version of the NFL Rooney Rule for Employment. News Release. Rljcompanies.com. December 17, 2012.

Robert L. Johnson, chairman of The RLJ Companies and founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) today calls on President Barack Obama to renew his commitment in addressing the employment gap between African Americans and White Americans, by encouraging U.S. corporations to adopt the RLJ Rule to address the overwhelming gap in unemployment.

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Pooling Our Resources on a Large, Transformative Scale: Breaking Through the Trust Barrier

The “trust barrier” is the major obstacle hampering the establishment of a large-scale, self-reliance-based resource-pooling fund that can have a transformational impact in addressing urgent problems in our distressed communities. Even black churches are losing trust and credibility among many African Americans. There would be no “trust barrier,” however, if, for instance, five or more of the most respected African Americans got together to start a fund and hired a few highly competent people to run it.

A fund backed by such an ideal “dream team” is unlikely or infeasible (but not impossible!). The more likely way it will happen: a few visionary, motivated, and accomplished entrepreneurs who have solid, unblemished reputations, armed with a sound and credible business plan, convince some less well-known but equally highly-regarded people to back the fund. 

Such backing need not even be financial: by virtue of their strong reputations, relationships, and public standing, just lending their credibility, prestige, gravitas, and imprimatur to the fund will provide it with the instant credibility it needs to be able to attract contributions from large numbers of African Americans even at start-up.  This is the most likely way a potent large-scale fund will get established. 
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As discussed in the BlackProgress.com article, Financing Black Progress, Part 1: A Publicly Financed “Marshall Plan” Is Unrealistic, So What’s the Alternative? A “Self-Reliance Marshall Plan”?, given the current noxious and racially-charged political environment — in which even the reasonable and very modest American Jobs Act remains stalled in Congress – waiting for massive public investment in initiatives that can transform distressed communities of color is largely futile.

And there is no indication this situation will change in the near future. Regardless of who is president and whether or not Democrats retain control of the Senate and/or retake the House in 2013, Congress will most likely remain closely divided, highly polarized and acrimonious, and is unlikely to pass any legislation to fund, on a substantial enough scale, the types of initiatives that can sufficiently meet the dire needs of these communities.

Rather than simply standing by helplessly and wringing our hands while Congress remains gridlocked and yet another generation of children in distressed communities remains trapped in poverty and dysfunction, we must focus on organizing proactive self-reliance approaches to transform our own communities.

By pooling our resources on a large enough scale, we would be able to amass sufficient capital to adequately attack the most critical problems in our communities, especially with respect to education, entrepreneurship and business development, job creation, and wealth-building. The BlackProgress.com article, Financing Black Progress, Part 2: A Self-Reliance “Marshall Plan”: Creating a National Resource-Pooling Fund, discusses such a resource pooling effort–a National Ventures & Excellence Fund or “EXCEL Fund”. Continue reading

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Self-Reliance and “Pooling Our Resources”

MLK_Chicago rally“We need to pool our resources” has been a recurring exhortation in the African American community for decades. For example, here’s Dr. Martin Luther King in a 1958 interview:

Question: Do you think Negroes are partly responsible for their plight? They don’t stick together and they don’t help each other. Negroes, for example, will walk past a Negro-owned grocery store or shoe shop to get to a white place. Instead of trying to make themselves financially independent, most Negroes are trying to keep up with the Joneses. Isn’t it time for us to stop begging and stand on our own feet? 

Dr. King: I quite agree that there is a great deal that the Negro can do to lift himself by his own bootstraps. Well has it been said by one that Negroes too often buy what they want and beg for what they need. Negroes must learn to practice systematic saving. They must also pool their economic resources through various cooperative enterprises. Such agencies as credit unions, savings and loan associations, and finance companies are needed in every Negro community. All of these are things that would serve to lift the economic level of the Negro which would in turn give him greater purchasing power. This increased purchasing power will inevitably make for better housing, better health standards, and for better educational standards.

From: “Advice for Living,” The King Papers Project, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University – http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/primarydocuments/Vol4/Mar-1958_AdviceForLiving.pdf

Financing Black Progress: On a Marshall Plan for the “Abandoned,” Self-Reliance, and “Pooling Our Resources” Via a Transformational National Fund

In his book, Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America, Washington Post columnist and MSNBC commentator Eugene Robinson (winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary) exhorts that “our most urgent priority should be an all-out assault on the stubborn, self-perpetuating poverty and dysfunction” of the segment of Black America he dubs the “large, Abandoned minority with less hope of escaping poverty and dysfunction than at any time since Reconstruction’s crushing end.”

Of course, approaches and strategies for addressing this challenge must span several interrelated areas: financing (public and private), entrepreneurship, wealth-building, job creation, education, job training, politics and policy, racial disparities, societal and cultural trends, etc.

Robinson proposes in his book a publicly financed “Marshall Plan for the Abandoned” (MPA) that would involve “massive intervention in education, public safety, health, and other aspects of life, with the aim being to arrest the downward spiral.”

Even at the time he proposed it – the book was published in October 2010 when the political environment was relatively less toxic (before the November 2010 elections, the subsequent budget and debt ceiling debacles, and the nasty and racially charged political environment that ensued thereafter) – Robinson acknowledged that the MPA “will be expensive, and politically it will be a hard sell.” Nonetheless, he argued then that the MPA could be politically feasible: Continue reading