In 2016, the Essex County Community Foundation forged a cross-sector coalition of business, community, and civic leaders to identify the Massachusetts region’s greatest challenges and to develop a strategy for action. Income inequality was identified as the county’s most pressing issue, and the foundation and its partners launched a systems philanthropy strategy to address that issue and stimulate inclusive growth.
The strategy involves a multipronged approach aimed at amplifying the county’s strengths, launching inclusive-growth initiatives, expanding workforce training and skill development to increase a broad target population’s earning potential and net worth, incentivizing and supporting small-business resiliency and growth, and revitalizing and reinventing struggling local industries. To measure progress, the foundation maintains quality of life indicators for data on income, equity, businesses, education, and jobs.
This article shares insights into systems philanthropy, the roles played by the foundation and its business and community partners, and how funders can reduce income inequality by investing systemically in inclusive growth.
Payne Simon, L., Lloyd, S., & Francis, B. (2020). Regional Inclusive Growth Through Systems Philanthropy in Essex County, Massachusetts. The Foundation Review, 12(4). https://doi.org/10.9707/1944-5660.1543
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