June 18, 2019

Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group Announce Newark to Join New Initiative to Increase Economic Mobility

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Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group announced today that Newark is one of ten American cities that will participate in a new national initiative to identify, pilot, and measure the success of interventions to accelerate economic mobility for their residents.

Over the next 18 months, Newark will focus on reducing eviction rates amid rising local housing costs to help ensure that long-term residents share in the benefits of local economic growth. The initiative will enable Newark to grow its new Office of Tenant Legal Services (OTLS), ensure effectiveness of that effort, and explore other ways to reduce evictions. The Office provides access to free legal representation from local providers to low-income tenants facing eviction.

The defining characteristic of the American Dream is upward mobility, but new data from Opportunity Insights shows that the current generation’s chances of earning more than their parents are declining. In many communities, young people and families face significant barriers to climbing the economic ladder based on the neighborhoods in which they live.

The new national initiative, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group, seeks to respond to the strong demand among local leaders for new, more effective interventions to address rising income inequality and declining economic mobility. In Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2018 American Mayors Survey – the largest comprehensive public-opinion survey of mayors and city managers – one of their top concerns was the challenge of providing more and better economic opportunities for all residents.

“One of the highest priorities of my administration is to reduce the disparities of wealth, income and opportunity that Newark residents face,” said Mayor Baraka. “This national initiative to increase economic mobility will be a critical tool in our work towards achieving economic justice. It will be especially valuable in our efforts to provide free legal help to low-income tenants facing eviction.”

Newark was selected through a competitive process that looked at local commitment to addressing economic mobility, willingness to use data and evidence to accelerate progress, and ability to dedicate a team to accomplish the initiative’s goals. The initiative is supported by a $12 million investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group that was announced last fall. Over the next 18 months,Newark will develop, pilot, and measure the early impacts of the Office of Tenant Legal Services on reducing the number of low-income tenants facing eviction, in an effort to help improve residents’ long-term economic mobility. Newark will also work closely with other cities participating in the initiative to share lessons and experiences to further advance the work and build a model for future collaboration among cities on the topic.

Newark staff have already begun working with a team of advisors from Results for America and the Behavioral Insights Team, both partners in What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative that helps cities confront urgent challenges through data- and evidence-based decision-making. Newark city staff will deepen their data skills and strengthen their ability to deliver results to residents with the help of experts from other What Works Cities partners, including Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence, the Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab and the Sunlight Foundation.

Additionally, Opportunity Insights at Harvard University is helping Newark staff draw insights regarding economic mobility in the community using data from the Opportunity Atlas, an interactive resource developed in collaboration with the U.S. Census Bureau.

The ten cities participating in the economic mobility initiative are:
Albuquerque, NM; Cincinnati, OH; Dayton, OH; Detroit, MI; Lansing, MI; New Orleans, LA; Newark, NJ; Racine, WI; Rochester, NY; and Tulsa, OK.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:

Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 510 cities and 129 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $767 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram,YouTube and Twitter.

About Ballmer Group:

Ballmer Group works to improve economic mobility for children and families in the United States who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty. We believe that building pathways to opportunity requires broad, systemic change. We invest in many stages of a child’s life by supporting strong community partnerships among public, private, and nonprofit organizations that use data to more effectively serve families. Ballmer Group was co-founded by philanthropist and civic activist Connie Ballmer and her husband Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, founder of USAFacts, and chairman of the Los Angeles Clippers. Learn more and on Twitter @BallmerGroup.

About Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.