Changing the National Conversation About Poverty and Economic Mobility

Arkansas AFN is one of 28 organizations to receive a grant of $100,000 in the Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge, sponsored by a group of eight philanthropic organizations: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Omidyar Network, Raikes Foundation, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, and the Schultz Family Foundation.

The Grand Challenge is part of a multi-funder, multiyear plan to examine economic mobility and opportunity in this country, to create tools to help everyone better understand the systemic factors that lead to the presence of greater economic mobility in their own neighborhoods, and to craft and test strategies for changing the outlook for people experiencing poverty.

The grantees will gather over the next 18 months as a cohort to collaborate and learn from one another; receive access to research, coaching and other technical support; and incubate their individual projects, with an eye toward production and distribution of prototypes by the fall of 2021. The incubation effort will be led by Purpose, a social impact agency and public benefit corporation that uses public mobilization and storytelling to build and support movements to advance the fight for an open, just, and habitable world.

About the Project:

Can You See Me Now?

The Arkansas Asset Funders Network in the U.S. will organize grasstops (e.g. business and banking, philanthropic and policy) champions to advance an agenda focused on Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed (ALICE) individuals. Efforts will highlight class-based narratives around the value and worthiness of hourly wage employment and the importance of asset creation and protection for Arkansas workers. Ambassadors will especially highlight ALICE households without a “work from home” option: those individuals who keep our businesses running, prepare and handle our food, care for our children and our sick, and keep our public spaces clean. Working together, they will build champions for this population, highlighting how the ALICE juggle to make ends meet and need equitable asset building options and protections for the future.