Exclusive: Members of US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty Reflect on Work

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The US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty – a collaboration between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Urban Institute – was tasked with answering one big question: What would it take to dramatically increase mobility from poverty?

In May 2018, the Partnership released policy and philanthropic recommendations and the Gates Foundation announced that it would invest $158 million in fighting poverty. Spotlight spoke with Partnership members from diverse backgrounds about their work and their outlook on poverty. In the coming weeks, we will hear from researchers, educators, funders, and other experts tapped by the Partnership.

Eldar Shafir

Eldar Shafir is the William Stewart Tod Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, director of Princeton’s Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy, and scientific director at ideas42, a behavioral science lab. We spoke with Eldar about the narratives Americans have constructed around poverty and economic opportunity — and how those narratives are often misleading or inaccurate.

Cheryl L. Hyman

As chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago from 2010 through 2017, Cheryl Hyman was responsible for managing a $700-million budget, overseeing nearly 5,500 employees, and ensuring the success of more than 100,000 students in Chicago’s community college system. Under Hyman’s multi-year Reinvention process, City Colleges’ graduation rate more than doubled and the number of degrees awarded annually reached an all-time high. We spoke with Cheryl about how community colleges can work to reduce poverty, and the steps they can take to duplicate Chicago’s success and help low-income students succeed.

Joshua Bolten

Joshua Bolten is president and CEO of the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of leading US companies. He has 20 years of government service. Under President George W. Bush, Bolten was deputy chief of staff for policy, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and chief of staff. We spoke with Joshua about the role for employers in reducing poverty and closing the “skills gap” — the disparity between the skills of prospective workers and the kinds of skills employers are looking for.

Srinija Srinivasan

Srinija Srinivasan is cofounder of Loove, a developing venture in Brooklyn, New York, supporting a sustainable model for producing, presenting, and distributing music. She serves on the board of trustees of Stanford University and on the Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by President Obama. We spoke with Srinija about her work on the issue of power, and how our uniquely American conception of power can affect discussions about poverty.

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