Mobility Learning and Action Bets — or Mobility LABs — is a pioneering, 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.

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Our Impact

Mobility LABs will build on Robin Hood’s work to identify and invest in effective models developed in New York City that can be exported and replicated in other communities. In addition, the work will identify innovative new models from other communities that can be replicated in New York City and beyond. Mobility LABs is a partnership of major donors, including The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Tipping Point Community, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Mobility LABs is supporting local anchor partners to lead planning work in nine demographically and geographically diverse local communities where Robin Hood and our philanthropic partners have commitments.

Why is Robin Hood Launching Mobility LABs?

New data clearly underscore the need to prioritize investments in mobility from poverty. Nationally, the work of Opportunity Insights shows that the American Dream — rising up from poverty to economic opportunity — is now less likely to happen in the United States than it is in Canada, Denmark, or the United Kingdom. Local New York City data from Robin Hood’s Poverty Tracker reveal a similar story: from year to year, more New Yorkers move in and out of poverty than remain persistently in poverty. Mobility LABs will explore these dynamics and others in a bold effort to find and test models that address this challenge.

Through Mobility LABs, we hope to learn about what it takes to increase mobility from poverty — to provide a springboard up, rather than just a safety net — and about effective measures of short-term predictors of mobility. For purposes of the initiative, mobility is defined as including three components — economic success, agency, and belonging.

Who are the local anchor partners?

In September 2019, Robin Hood awarded $125,000 planning grants to each of nine local anchor partners to lead a process to develop solutions that are both data-driven and heart-led. The planning process is expected to yield plans for pilot approaches to address gaps in mobility from poverty. Community-based organizations will receive implementation funding to test and implement the pilot approaches over a 3-year period beginning in late 2020.

Brownsville, Brooklyn (New York): JobsFirst NYC

South Bronx (New York): Bronx Defenders

Flushing, Queens (New York): Chinese American Planning Council

Baltimore (Maryland): Baltimore Community Foundation

Suburban Cook County (Illinois): CEDA

Northeast Pennsylvania: Commission for Economic Opportunity

Bayview (California): Young Community Developers

East San Jose (California): SOMOS Mayfair

East Contra Costa County (California): RCF Connects

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