February 28, 2020
At Lever Fund, we are proud to be part of a national family of incredibly capable poverty-fighting organizations. Hailing from New York City, the Bay Area, Washington D.C., Chicago, the Twin Cities, and Memphis, each of us utilizes a metrics approach pioneered by Robin Hood more than thirty years ago.
On a bright, blustery day in February, we gathered together for the first time at Robin Hood’s headquarters, whose next door neighbor is the iconic Strand Book Store. We took a tiny elevator up to the 9th floor, where we were greeted by warm smiles and buzzing energy, chic exposed brick and plenty of oat milk. We were guided through a powerful traveling exhibition called "Undesign the Redline"—which connects the history of New York City's racial housing segregation to current political and social issues.
We sat down around a couple of large conference tables and talked about how the work of our individual organizations informs our shared mission. We explored ways to marshal capital and attention to the most effective solutions for fighting poverty across the country. We talked about what's working and what's not; what's ready for export and what's not.
As representatives of the Washington, DC region, we shared our local perspective. That our region is experiencing a 40-plus-year economic boom. That no East Coast metro area has a more affluent population. Despite this, nearly half a million residents in the Washington, DC region live in poverty. In DC alone, 1:4 people and 1:6 children live in poverty.
We talked about some of our key local challenges:
- Seemingly intractable nature of poverty
- Broad geographic scope and diverse stakeholders
- Need for alignment around a holistic solution
- Access to fresh, powerful ideas
We shared some of the ways we, at Lever Fund, are addressing this:
- Setting our strategy and implementation from data and evidence-based approaches
- Shifting narratives
- Forming collaborative, diverse partnerships
- Engaging stakeholders for place-based giving
Beyond the insights we received in New York, we walked away with a deeper connection to a tribe of fellow believers and doers in this work. This is a smart, strong community. You are part of it, too.
Stay tuned for a future communication where we'll dig further into how Lever Fund is addressing the needs of the DMV in the next 18 months.
Jill, Connie and Chike