Many low-income individuals are cut off from opportunity by distance, lack of access to a car or public transit, the high cost of commuting, limited childcare options, and other barriers.

Meeting of the Minds and Living Cities invite civic-minded leaders across sectors to participate in a group blogging event focused on the question:

How could cities better connect all their residents to economic opportunity?

How It Works
Participants are invited to publish responses to this question on their blog on May 12, 2014 .

Anyone can participate, but we ask that posts incorporate the event guidelines. Authors or organizations without their own blog can send their post to by May 6, 2014 , for posting to the Meeting of the Minds blog.

An accompanying webinar on May 14, 2014 will feature event participants and be followed by an interactive online discussion.

The Challenge: Restoring Cities as Engines of Economic Opportunity

America’s cities have historically been engines of economic opportunity for their residents. For generations, people from around the world came to cities to build better futures for themselves and their families. However, as global economic, social, and technological realities have changed over recent decades, this path has become harder to follow.

Restoring our cities as engines of economic opportunity for all will require the ingenuity of urban leaders across sectors, disciplines, and points of view. Every day, leaders from business, government, nonprofits, philanthropy, the arts, and more innovate to make our cities better. But rarely do we have the opportunity to reflect openly and together about the same issues. This virtual conversation is intended to create a space for this kind of thinking.

Focus Topic: Connecting City Residents to Economic opportunity

One barrier to economic opportunity is the challenge of accessing jobs, education and training, and essentials like childcare, healthcare, financial services, and even healthy food. Today, few people have the opportunity to work, live, and learn within a conveniently connected or narrowly defined geographic area. Instead, individuals often travel across cities, counties, or even entire regions to commute to jobs and obtain essential services. Many low-income individuals are cut off from opportunity by distance, lack of access to a car or public transit, the high cost of commuting, limited childcare options, and other barriers.

At the same time, cities and urban leaders are experimenting with new and bold approaches to addressing these challenges, including building out transportation networks (e.g., LA 30/10); developing new tools and partnerships to help implement ambitious development plans; pioneering alternative transportation options such as ride sharing; testing innovations in Big Data, technology and social media being used to connect people to opportunity in new ways; trying out new ways of delivering healthcare (e.g., offering flu shots in big-box stores); and even transforming public spaces like libraries into conduits to opportunity.

While participants are free to respond to this prompt any way they choose, we offer the following questions to help surface ideas:

  • What might it look like for a city to connect all its residents to economic opportunity?
  • How are cities and urban innovators already working to connect people to opportunity?
  • What more could different players across sectors do – individually and together – towards this end?
  • How could cities more effectively move their ambitious visions from planning to implementation?
  • How can we ensure that these innovations benefit all city residents, particularly lower-income residents and residents of color?
  • How could emerging, 21st-century trends like the rise of Big Data, social media, mass-customization and the sharing economy “change the game?”

This event is an opportunity for participants to engage a global audience of corporate, philanthropic, government, and nonprofit citizens in an important discussion regarding the future of cities. We hope you will join us on May 12th and we look forward to your ideas.

If you have questions, please email to, or tweet your questions to #urbanopportunity .

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