No City Limits Conference features National Leaders on Poverty and Renewed Strategic Vision from Robin Hood CEO

$25 Million Mobility LABs National Partnership Unveiled

NEW YORK, Feb. 04, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today leaders from across the spectrum in the fight against poverty came together at Robin Hood’s annual thought leadership conference – No City Limits: Reimagining the Poverty Fight 2019 – to reaffirm the need and commitment to effectively support people in the fight against poverty, focusing on this year’s theme: Mobility from Poverty: Moving from Ideas to Action. During the conference, Robin Hood announced a new $25 million national partner initiative, new data from Poverty Tracker and renewed strategic vision to accelerate the rate of sustainably moving people out of poverty.

Robin Hood CEO Wes Moore opened the conference by sharing details of a year-long strategic planning process culminating in a renewed strategic vision and a new path forward for the organization.

This year’s conference theme reflects Robin Hood’s new strategic vision: to lift households in New York City from poverty measurably and sustainably. Robin Hood’s Board of Directors unanimously approved this strategic focus this past fall, after a year-long process launched to assess our impact given the current demands of this work that involved feedback from communities, community partners, data, and diverse leaders and experts in academia, philanthropy, nonprofits, government, and more.

"We understand that philanthropy has a critical role to play in this fight. We also understand that the current state of poverty in our society is not because philanthropy hasn't done its job. The current role and the current state of poverty in our society is not because community partners and those on the ground haven't done their jobs," said Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood. "We are here because of the systemic, structural, and policy inequalities that exist. We are here because we have policies that are in place that are putting people and keeping people in poverty."

Data from Robin Hood’s Poverty Tracker with Columbia University shows poverty’s pervasiveness: 42 percent of New Yorkers – more than twice the poverty rate in New York City – experienced poverty at some point over the past three years. Robin Hood will approach its work with a focus on lifting households in New York City from poverty measurably and sustainably, to a point where households are less likely to fall back into poverty.

Robin Hood will further supplement its impact by leveraging public policy, partnership, and narrative change. Robin Hood will focus on importing and exporting effective interventions, addressing the narratives that hold back people in poverty, creating initiatives to explore solutions across the spectrum, and address the policies preventing people from moving out of poverty.

“Our work with our community partners is the cornerstone of everything we do, and that will not change,” said Moore. “We’re going to support our impactful grants and our rigorous metrics with a focus on getting families in New York City to a point where their chances of slipping back into poverty are greatly diminished, and we’re going to work in partnership with communities to do it.”

As part of the new areas of focus, Robin Hood announced Mobility Learning and Action Bets, or Mobility LABs, a pioneering $25 million, four-year initiative to spur the development of new solutions to sustainably lift families out of poverty, and to promote dynamic leaders who will aim to change the national conversation around social and economic mobility. Mobility LABs will work in partnership with major donors, including The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and Tipping Point Community, with additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Robin Hood has been laying the groundwork for this strategic progression. In recent months, three key leadership roles have been added to the team, including Chief Public Policy Officer Jason Cone; Managing Director for Narrative Change & National Initiatives Nisha Patel; and Samantha Tweedy, Chief Partnership and Impact Officer.

Informing Robin Hood’s work is the Poverty Tracker, a groundbreaking study of disadvantage in New York City, conducted in partnership with Columbia University starting in 2012. Poverty Tracker checks in with the same 4,000 households quarter after quarter tracking the dynamics of income poverty, material hardship, health problems, and other forms of economic and social well being. According to new data shared at the conference:

  • New Yorkers by and large perceive the economy as unfair and opportunity to be limited, including children’s chances of outperforming their parents.
  • New Yorkers overwhelmingly believe that, in the United States, not everyone has an equal chance, and a majority think that the economic system is unfair.
  • 71 percent of New Yorkers report that in this country we do not give everyone an equal chance 
  • When asked what drives chances of achieving success, New Yorkers cited having a good education, hard work, and knowing the right people.
  • Despite this relatively gloomy outlook on the state of affairs in the country, most New Yorkers remain optimistic about their own chances of seeing their situation improve.

Today’s No City Limits conference was attended by 250 people with speakers and panelists including Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation and Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood; Geoffrey Canada, president of Harlem Children’s Zone; Raj Chetty, Harvard University professor and Opportunity Insight founder; Katie Couric, award-winning journalist and podcast host; Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project; Jennifer L. Eberhardt, professor, Department of Psychology, Stanford University; Kaya Henderson, Head of Community Impact, Teach for All; Van Jones, activist and host of “The Van Jones Show,” CNN; John King, president and CEO of The Education Trust; Nick Kristof, New York Times op-ed columnist; Daniel Lurie, CEO and founder of Tipping Point Community; Heather McGhee, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos; Rachel Garbow Monroe, president and CEO of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; Soledad O’Brien, founder and CEO of Starfish Media Group; Katherine O’Regan, Professor of Public Policy and Planning, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Faculty Director, NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy; John Ridley, filmmaker; Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color Of Change; Jim Shelton, partner, Amandla Enterprises, entrepreneur in residence, Blue Meridian; Steve Stoute, founder and CEO of Translation and UnitedMasters; Marta Tienda, Princeton University, Department of Sociology and Woodrow Wilson School; Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, California; and Jane Waldfogel, Compton Foundation Centennial professor for the Prevention of Children’s and Youth Problems, Columbia University, co-director of the Columbia Population Research Center.

Photos will be available for download here after the conclusion of the conference.

Follow No City Limits on Twitter with the hashtag #NoCityLimits and #MobilityFromPoverty and on Robin Hood’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

No City Limits: Reimagining the Poverty Fight 2019 is sponsored by Capital One.

About Robin Hood
Founded in 1988, Robin Hood finds, fuels, and creates the most impactful and scalable solutions lifting families out of poverty in New York City, with models that can work across the country. Robin Hood invests roughly $120 million annually to provide legal services, housing, meals, workforce development training, education programs, and more to families in poverty in New York City. Robin Hood tracks every program with rigorous metrics.