Insight May 2014 News 
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HuffPo Highlight
"The Next Service Economy"

The American economy has changed in the years following the Great Recession of 2008. Manufacturing has seen a renaissance, yet over three-quarters of American jobs remain concentrated in service employment categories. We have moved from being a world leader in global economic production to the world's largest service economy...

New Report on Black Fathers and Child Support

The Insight Center recently released an important and timely new study on how child support policies and practices are creating unsurmountable debt—and, hence, diminishing wealth building opportunities—for struggling black fathers and their families.  The study, “What We Want to Give our Kids: How Child Support Debt Can Diminish Wealth-Building Opportunities for Struggling Black Fathers and Their Families," highlights the experiences of 35 low-income black fathers struggling with the child support system in six cities across five states (Beloit, Wisconsin; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Freeport, Illinois; Jackson, Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; and, Oakland, California). It is the first report to explore child support as a debt that limits future life chances for children of the poorest black fathers, a group the owes a large portion of the $115 billion national child support debt. Prior to the report, little was known about how fathers with considerable child support debt manage their expenses and even less was understood about how family, partners, friends and whole communities are pulled into this web of debt.

Child support policies and practices often strip jobless and low-income parents of the possibility of ever acquiring savings, a house, or even a car. But one of the most significant harms of enforcement is that it can limit low-income fathers to endless financial insecurity because they don’t earn enough to pay the child support they owe. These consequences have proven to hinder their children’s chances of moving into the middle class - doing irreparable damage to the very children the child support is intended to help.

“We know that putting every child on the path to fulfill his or her full potential increasingly depends on whether or not parents amass even the most modest assets, like a savings account or college and retirement savings,” said Anne Price, director of the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative here at Insight. “Generating debts for fathers and sometimes imprisoning them hurts children and can further impoverish families for generations to come.”  For a copy of the full report please click HERE.

New Report and Webinar on MWBE

On Thursday, May 29 at 2:00PM EDT, the Insight Center will host a significant national webinar about city and county programs that help minority-owned, women-owned, and small business enterprises get an equitable share of public contracts. By distributing income and assets more evenly throughout a region, these inclusive business programs are one of the most proactive ways to address economic and racial inequality and grow the economy.

Leaders of programs in Houston, TX, King County, WA and Hennepin County, MN will provide examples of how to take a program to the next level, promote agency buy-in, and increase impact.  We will also discuss trends in public procurement and make the case for highlighting program effectiveness through economic impact reports, showcasing the work of the Maryland Governor's Office of Minority Affairs. The webinar follows the recently released report titled "Economic Development in Diverse Communities: Inclusive Procurement by Cities and Counties," which was principally authored by Insight senior consultants, Tim Lohrentz and Aimee Chitayat.

We encourage any and all interested members of our community to participate in this important exchange. To register please click HERE.

Insight Staffer Joins PRRAC Board of Directors

This month Insight staff member Gabriela Sandoval joins the Board of Directors of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC).  PRRAC is a civil rights policy organization whose mission is to help connect advocates with social scientists working on race and poverty issues, and to promote a research-based advocacy strategy on structural inequality issues. PRRAC sponsors social science research, provides technical assistance, and convenes advocates and researchers around race and poverty issues.

The Beat Goes On!

The Insight Center continues to make important strides in its work to increase economic opportunity and security in America. Since my last e-news report in April, our work has taken us to almost every major region of the nation. Our work has been featured on the front pages of the Los Angeles Times, as well as at leading national conferences and plenary discussions sponsored by groups as far-ranging as the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) in New Orleans, the California Community Economic Development Association (CCEDA) in Los Angeles, and Ford Foundation’s Building Economic Assets Over a Lifetime Program Initiative in New York City.

Following are a few highlights of our most noteworthy program activities. I know upon reading through this content you will agree that our work at Insight has never been more important.

Color of Wealth Summit

On May 2nd and 3rd, in collaboration with the Center for Global Policy Solutions, the Insight Center co-convened a timely and well attended Capitol Hill gathering of congressional policy leaders and staff, as well as members of the Experts of Color Network (ECON). The gathering focused on "Shared Prosperity for All: The Policy Imperative for Closing the Racial Wealth Gap" and was attended by some 250 leading policy and research professionals. Featured presenters included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), and key members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Hispanic Congressional Caucus.

At the opening awards ceremony to kick off these discussions, I was honored to present a lifetime achievement award to U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), who represents the district in which the Insight Center is based in Oakland, CA. Insight’s Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative Director Anne Price presented a similar award to Dr. Tom Shapiro, Director of the Brandeis University Institute on Assets and Social Policy, whose seminal work on the drivers of racial disparities in asset accumulation have resuscitated policy attention to the issues in recent years.



New Workforce Contracts

Last month I reported that the Insight Center had recently been granted an important $250,000 contract by the Mississippi River Transportation, Logistics, and Distribution Consortium to facilitate next stage sector training strategy development involving nine community college systems serving the region. I am happy to follow this report with additional good news about Insight’s recent efforts to expand our contracting and fee-for-service revenues.

Since April, Insight has received word from the City of Oakland’s Office of Economic Development that we have been selected to help facilitate and support its next stage long range planning efforts. Under this $50,000 contract, the Insight Center and its partners Jennie Mollica Consulting and Opportunity Partners will provide the City of Oakland program and resource development services to support: facilitation of strong strategic partnerships; development of effective job training, employer services, and/or workforce development programs; and generation and alignment of resources from public and private sources to support such programs.

In addition, earlier this month, Insight was awarded a circa $75,000 contract by Goodwill Industries International to assist that important social enterprise in its next stage workforce development planning efforts.

Together, these contract-based efforts to expand Insight’s consulting services and reach will become an important anchor for diversifying our organizational revenue stream and increasing our responsiveness to market-driven demand for our unique services. 

San Diego Economic Security Workshops

On May 7th, in conjunction with San Diego Grantmakersthe Leichtag FoundationUnited Way of San Diego, and the Center on Policy Initiatives, the Insight Center co-convened a series of briefing and training workshops targeted to regional funders and leading human services nonprofit executives on economic security issues in San Diego County. The funders briefing included nearly 20 professionals representing grant making organizations such as Alliance Healthcare Foundation, the San Diego Women’s FoundationSocial Venture Partners, and the Jewish Federation of San Diego County. An allied nonprofit professionals training workshop was convened in parallel with nearly 50 San Diego area nonprofit executives. That session lifted up opportunities for expanded independent sector leadership and community responsiveness through more active and widespread utilization of the Self-Sufficiency Standard—a basic needs measurement tool developed by the Insight Center and other leading research and nonprofit entities, to better assess household economic security needs for regional planning and investment, client services, fund development, and advocacy purposes.    

A Sad Loss for All: Jack Litzenberg, In Memorium

Finally, on a sad note, we learned recently that our longtime friend and C.S. Mott Program Director Jack Litzenberg passed away in Mont Blanc, MI.

For nearly three decades, Litzenberg was a leading force in the Foundation’s efforts to address poverty and help low-income people succeed in education and the workforce. In 1994, the Council on Foundations honored Litzenberg for his work with its Robert W. Scrivner Award for innovation and creativity in grantmaking, the highest award made by the Council to a grantmaker.

During his tenure at the Mott Foundation, Jack helped the Insight Center and other national workforce policy and practice leaders to focus work in this space more effectively on sector training and placement strategies. In honor of Jack’s legacy, we feature here two sets of reflections—the first from our Workforce Program Director Jack Mills, the second from our former CEO at Insight and now San Francisco Foundation Vice President James Head.

We will sorely miss Jack Litzenberg’s clarity of strategy and thought in this work, not to mention his unbending dedication to the communities and people our work is most intended to serve.      

With enduring gratitude,

Henry A. J. Ramos
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