A weekly round-up of articles and resources you won't want to miss!

This week, data and equity rise to the top. In our list of #GoodReads, you’ll get a fresh look at poverty, learn about the value of testable hypotheses and hear from local leaders. Happy Reading!

Poverty and Inequality

How Poor are the Poor - By Thomas B. Edsall, The New York Times

“Despite rising optimism,” notes author Thomas B. Edsall, “there are disagreements over how many poor people there are and the conditions they live under. There are also questions about the problem of relative poverty, what we are now calling inequality.”

Edsall digs deep into the question of relative poverty and the real outcomes of LBJ’s “War on Poverty”. His questions lead to a compelling view of what poverty really looks like in America today.

Recommended by Ben Hecht, President and CEO

Racial Equity and Inclusion

The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters - By Amy Traub and Catherine Ruetschlin, Demos

To effectively address the increasing inequality that is undermining America’s economic security, we must first identify the key factors contributing to the problem and evaluate policies that improve opportunities for all families and children. This article in Demo offers a new tool, the Racial Wealth Audit, and uses it to evaluate the impact of housing, education and labor markets on the wealth gap between White, Black and Latino households. And to assesses how far policies that equalize outcomes in these areas could go toward reducing the gap.

Recommended by Tonya Banks, Senior Administrative Associate, Capital Innovation

Data and Evaluation

A Testable Idea is Better than a Good Idea - By Michael Schrag, Harvard Business Review

What could be bad about good ideas? This HBR blog post is one we all should read! Michael Schrag shines a revealing light on the habits and approaches of organizations that successfully innovate, and highlights the value of testable hypotheses, as a way to provoke both action-oriented discussions and impactful social change interventions.

Recommended by Daniela Pineda, Associate Director, Evaluation and Impact

This Time Is Different: How Big Data Has Left the Middle Class Behind - By Nathan Newman, The Huffington Post

Nathan Newman, Director of Data Justice, compellingly argues in the Huffington Post that current innovation trends are a key driver of economic stagnation and inequality because they are explicitly focused on efficiency, particularly in terms of eliminating jobs and lowering costs. Further, citing the example of predatory companies using algorithms to identify the most likely victims of sub-prime mortgages and offering them worse deals than they offered others with the same credit ratings who were less likely to accept bad deals, he states that ‘what is different in this round of technology is not so much that it’s changing our physical processes of production, although that is happening as well, but that it’s changing the informational relationship between companies and the population. Big data converts increasing information inequality into economic inequality.’ At Living Cities, we believe that we need a new urban practice to achieve dramatically better results for low-income people faster and that this practice should both learn from the past and keep a finger on the pulse of current and future trends. The need for ‘data justice’, then, should be considered as we work with others to design next generation solutions.

Recommended by Nadia Owusu, Assistant Director of Strategic Communications and Storytelling

Municipal Innovation

Interview with Mayor Ivy Taylor, San Antonio, TX - By Miriam Axel-Lute, Harold Simon and Keli Tianga, Shelterforce

How can a municipal leader with a strong understanding of the dynamics of place be an accelerant of transformative change in their city? A recent interview with San Antonio, TX, Mayor Ivy Taylor explores this well. Unlike many city executives that boast backgrounds in business or law, Mayor Taylor is trained as an urban planner. This lens influences her work in fascinating ways. For instance, Mayor Taylor considers affordable housing and transit as means of provisioning neighborhoods, not wholly ameliorative ends in and of themselves. I found her willingness to honor what works and reconsider what does not quite encouraging. Her thoughts suggest the coalescence of a refreshing, new urban practice in local government.

Recommended by Krystle Okafor, Special Assistant to the President and CEO

Collective Impact

Collective Impact: Equity, Community and Network Thinking - By Curtis Ogden, Interaction Institute for Social Change

This week, at the Champions for Change gathering in Washington, DC, collective impact leaders came together to learn more about people’s experiences with creating and developing a“backbone” function in their initiatives.

In this thoughtful recap of the event, Curtis Ogden highlights key takeaways from a break-out session on racial equity; Paul Schmitz‘s (formerly of Public Allies) plenary on collective leadership, privilege and community ownership; and a conversation with seasoned backbone participants about their successes, challenges and innovations.

Recommended by Juan Sebastian Arias, Program Associate, Collective Impact


Image courtesy of Curtis Ogden, Interaction Institute for Social Change.