Data Shows More Needs to be Done to Bring Widespread Prosperity to the South
Author: Stephen Sherman
While economic disparities in the U.S. are widespread, nowhere in the country is the gap in economic mobility more pronounced than the South. Just look at the map below and you’ll notice the broad swath of red indicating the lack of upward mobility in the region. Raj Chetty and a team of researchers from Stanford, Harvard, and Berkeley used data from the most-recent Census and tax returns to chart the chance a child born into the bottom fifth income bracket could reach the top fifth by adulthood.
From a list of 741 commuting zones, four Southern cities were ranked in the bottom ten in terms of upward mobility. These were Atlanta, Charlotte, Jacksonville, and Raleigh, all of which have shown indicators of strong economic growth. The chances of a child going from the bottom quintile to the top in these cities were some of the lowest in the country—nowhere higher than 5 percent. By contrast, the leading cities in upward mobility – New York, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, to name a few – all measured 10 percent or higher.
But is it just geographic differences that are to blame for the lack of economic mobility in the South? In addition to location, Chetty and his fellow researchers found that another primary factor in upward mobility was an individual’s racial identity. The latest research from the Equality of Opportunity Project finds that in 99 percent of Census tracts in the United States, black boys earn less in adulthood than white boys who grew up in families with comparable income. This suggests that differences in resources at the neighborhood level, such as access to quality schools, cannot by themselves explain the intergenerational gaps between black and white children.
Building an Inclusive Economy
Author: Mary Thomas
Our economic landscape today looks very different than it did 25 years ago. This pattern of change will inevitably continue as technological advancements are rapidly introduced to the world.
To adapt to this new landscape, foundations must be willing to shift and evolve with the changing communities we serve. Seventy-five years ago, our founder— Walter Scott Montgomery—had a vision of introducing community philanthropy to Spartanburg County to meet the needs of the entire area. His vision began with a $10,000 investment that has evolved into a $213 million philanthropic organization that is continuously working to improve the lives of Spartanburg County residents by promoting philanthropy, encouraging local engagement, and responding to community needs.
A great thought leader in our community, Roger Milliken, lived by this motto, “Innovate or die.” Community institutions would do well to live by those words to ensure that our organizations continue to think ahead and maximize community impact by deploying innovative solutions to the issues facing our region. The success that the Spartanburg County Foundation has seen over the years is partly because of its ability to look ahead, remain flexible, and change when necessary to address local issues.
International African American Museum in Charleston Attracts Support from Philanthropy
Author: Alexa Asendorf
“Went down to the rocks to hide my face. The rocks cried out, no hiding place,” Elizabeth Alexander, Director of Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation, said, contemplating the African American biblical phrase at a recent event in support of the International African American Museum. She continued, “I don’t think that the ground on which we walk stays silent forever. I think that actually the ground has to speak, and now there is a moment where people are realizing that this is a story that needs to be narrated, needs to be spoken.”
The International African American Museum (IAAM) is being designed to give voice to the sacred land of Gadsden’s Wharf, and to the stories of the men, women and children whose lives are intrinsically tied to that hallowed ground. Nearly half of all enslaved Africans forced to America through the Transatlantic Slave Trade arrived in Charleston, and the vast majority disembarked at Gadsden’s Wharf, the future home of the IAAM and one of the most significant and sites of the African American experience in the Western hemisphere.
The museum, a $75 million project, is just $7 million away from reaching its fundraising goal, which it aims to accomplish by the end of 2017. With the funds secured, the museum will break ground in early 2018 and open in 2020.