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Promoting Solutions and Dynamic Leaders

Mobility Learning and Action Bets

2019 - 2023

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 to change the conversation around social and economic mobility.

Taking Community Solutions to Scale

Mobility LABS is a new partnership of major donors, including Tipping Point Community and Robin Hood, which serves as the managing partner for Mobility LABs. Mobility LABs builds 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.

A deeply embedded feature of Mobility LABs is the idea that people who are closest to the challenge are closest to the solution. Rather than Robin Hood dictating the specific levers for communities to pull (e.g., early childhood, job training, or health), we are taking a “community up” approach. We are asking our local anchor partners to embark on a data-driven, heart-led process to identify solutions and produce a plan to pilot, test, and implement those solutions.

Another important feature of Mobility LABs is that the initiative is designed as a cohort model with a key focus on peer learning across diverse urban, suburban, and rural communities. As such, the work in each community will move forward on the same timeline, with built-in opportunities (virtual and in-person) for shared learning.

Launch + Strategy

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—and we hope to identify and measure indicators across all three components.

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 (i.e., informed by the latest national and local data on mobility outcomes) and heart-led (i.e., informed by the perspectives of community residents who are experiencing poverty). The 9-month planning process is expected to yield plans for pilot approaches to address gaps in mobility from poverty (e.g., among different demographic groups or within geographic areas) and “loss points” (i.e., points during the life cycle where low-income children and youth and their households are experiencing obstacles to mobility). Community-based organizations will receive implementation funding to test and implement the pilot approaches over a 3-year period beginning in late 2020.

Partner Funders

Tipping Point Community

Robin Hood

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation