Climbing the Economic Ladder
Mobility from poverty is decreasing in the United States. Ninety percent of children born in 1940 earned more than their parents did. For children born in the 1980s, though, that figure has dropped to just 50%. Our goal is to ensure that more people everywhere are working on increasing mobility from poverty and to provide them with the information and tools they need to succeed.
Since the launch of the U.S. Economic Mobility and Opportunity program in 2018, we have committed more than $150 million to it. These funds increase access to better information and tools—what we call “public goods”—that are needed for tackling barriers to opportunity and developing mobility strategies at the community, state, and national levels. We are committed to partnership, innovation, research, and programmatic investments that will help more Americans climb the economic ladder and lead fulfilling, dignified lives.
Mobility isn’t just about economic circumstances—it’s about all people being able to decide the direction of their own lives, live with dignity, and have a valued place within their community.
We aim to increase mobility in the United States in two ways: First, by supporting the availability, awareness, adoption, and efficacy of public goods that give decision-makers, community leaders, and other stakeholders the information, tools, and insights they need to drive action locally and nationally. Second, by using partnership and financial levers to help funders and decision-makers who are committed to increasing social and economic mobility achieve greater impact.
We believe data, evidence, and collaboration can play a catalytic role in connecting people to lead true transformation of systems and society. For example, we’ve funded research that documents variations in economic mobility by neighborhood. This has produced some powerful findings—among them, the discovery that even when children grow up in the same neighborhoods with parents earning very similar incomes, Black boys still fare worse in later life than white boys from the same background. This is true in almost every single neighborhood in the United States. This work is already leading to practical new interventions in communities across the country, such as helping families that are moving to choose higher mobility areas that are not dramatically more expensive.