Despite a declining unemployment rate and rising consumer confidence and GDP, there remains a significant number of working poor in the U.S., particularly in cities.
To help local non-profit and business leaders identify the critical challenges facing America’s urban communities, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth has launched the “On the Frontlines of Inclusive Growth” tour.
The Center, an independent subsidiary of Mastercard, is committed to advancing equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion. By connecting people to the networks that power the modern world – like financial services – the Center seeks to unlock people’s economic potential, help increase their productivity and begin a cycle of equitable economic growth and poverty reduction.
Kicking off at The Next Billion conference in San Francisco, the Center will bring together local businesses, think tanks, policymakers and thought leaders in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Oakland over the next six weeks in an effort to capture, compile and share best practices and discuss how to foster an environment that helps jobs and incomes rise and expands the middle class.
Among the critical challenges to be addressed are:
- Rising income inequality: The income of the top 10 percent in the U.S. is nearly nine times that of the bottom 90 percent.
- Lack of access to financial tools: 29 percent of U.S. households are un- or underbanked, and the highest unbanked rates are among minorities, low-income households, unemployed households and younger households.
- Barriers to entrepreneurship: According to the Small Business Administration, access to financial capital is a major challenge for small firms — especially women- and minority-owned businesses.
- Cities struggling to use data to improve services: Nearly half of cities surveyed in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities report pointed to a shortage of staff and financial resources dedicated to gathering and evaluating data.
The Center will also participate in public panel discussions on inclusion in the digital economy and the role of data philanthropy convened by the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University and DataKind.
Following these events, the Center will publish its findings, establish measurable goals, and develop programming and activities unique to each city, to promote inclusive growth in the U.S. during 2017 and beyond.