This week's round-up of reading recommendations highlights steps being taken improve the lives of low-income people -- from Pope Francis' call to address poverty and inequality, to efforts to accomplish the new Sustainable Development Goals.

Last week, the world was party to two important instances that may impact low-income people forever. Fist, Pope Francis made a historical visited to the United States. On his agenda, the pope urged American policymakers in Congress and international dignitaries in the United Nations to address poverty and inequality. And, at the UN General Assembly, world leaders agreed on 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” designed to end poverty and hunger by 2030.

Poverty and inequality are issues that individuals, organizations and governments are struggling to tackle across the world. These wicked challenges span language, culture, ideology and geography. Each day at Living Cities, we work to test, adopt and apply promising practices in cities in order to see dramatically better results for low-income people, faster. Attacking the systemic roots of poverty from multiple angles is woven into the fabric of our work.

That’s why, this week, we’re sharing #GoodReads that highlight steps already being taken to tackle root causes of poverty and inequality, accomplish the new Sustainable Development Goals, and improve the lives of low-income people.


Climate Change and Racial Equity

Summit Speaker Tracey Ross on Economic Resilience and Climate Change - By Courtney Hutchison, PolicyLink

My Recommendation: Elizabeth Vargas, Associate, Strategic Communications and Engagement

Both Pope Francis and the UN called for aggressive action to combat Climate Change this past week. However, Climate change and other environmental issues are often overlooked as an equity issue — yet they’re inextricably linked. From the devastation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, to the higher-than-average instances of asthma in inner city youth, climate concerns disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color. In this article, Tracey Ross, associate director of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress, discusses her work at the intersection of environmental justice and economic resilience in low-income communities and communities of color, and why policies and strategies to foster sustainable communities an essential piece of the broader equity agenda.

Affordable Housing and the SDGs

Adequate and Affordable Housing Included in the Sustainable Development Goals - From The Global Goals Summit

Recommended by Tonya Banks, Senior Administrative Associate, Capital Innovation

As part of the UN General Assembly, 193 world leaders will commit to 17 Global Goals to achieve three extraordinary things in the next 15 years – End extreme poverty. Fight inequality and injustice. Fix climate change. Global leaders are expected to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years. The SDGs expand on a previous set of goals, approved in 2000, that were designed to lift people out of poverty. However, despite overwhelming evidence that housing is intricately related to improved health and education outcomes, better job opportunities and stronger communities, not one of the previous goals dealt specifically with housing. The new SDGs call for “access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing”.

Capital Innovation

Seeding Mission Driven Start-Ups - By By Jeff Carlson, May Samali, Julie Lein and Clara Brenner, The Stanford Social Innovation Review

Recommended by Ellen Ward, Senior Investment Associate, Capital Innovation

This interesting piece in SSIR from our friends at Tumml highlights the gaps in the capital ecosystem for social entrepreneurs. While the amount of venture capital flowing into early-stage companies is growing rapidly, the amount going to social enterprises (those companies who are seeking to address problems that afflict society) has not increased and, if anything, is getting smaller. The authors offer suggestions for why this is happening (largely an unwillingness to take on the perceived risk of seed-stage funding for social entrepreneurs) and make recommendations for how social entrepreneurs can succeed in the current environment. It makes me wonder, how can collaboratives like Living Cities change the funding environment to increase the flow of capital into social enterprises and scale their impact on low-income people? There is great potential to disprove the risk perception and tap into the $52 billion dollars that flowed into venture capital (in just 2014!)

Collective Impact

Groundbreaking Veteran Employment Program is Unveiled to Military Leaders and Service Members - From Syracuse University-Institute for Veterans and Military Families

Recommended by Daniela Pineda, Associate Director, Evaluation and Impact

Last week, the Schultz Family Foundation (SFF) launched a new initiative, which brings collective impact to the space of Veteran and Military affairs. In the words of Dr. J. Michael Haynie, Executive Director and Founder of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), and Vice Chancellor at Syracuse University:

“This collective impact approach toward employer engagement, curriculum development and delivery, and ultimate placement of servicemembers and spouses in opportunities with our employer partners is something never before seen in the veterans' space at this scope and scale.”

We’re encouraged to see SFF working to catalyze people working together in new ways.

Civic Technology

Meet The Winning Team Of GlobalHack V: Inveo - By Mary Mack, EQ

Recommended by Tamir Novotny, Senior Associate, Public Sector Innovation

What do you think of the winning concept: Inveo? Add your thoughts 

Over the weekend, our Civic Tech and Data Partners in St. Louis held a hackathon focused on making the court system more navigable for people with traffic citations. GlobalHack, a private company interested in moving into the Civic Space, sponsored the hackathon and posted a $30,000 grand prize for the winner. This articles covers more on the winner and the event. We’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the winning concept!

Happy Reading!

Photo: 30.FrontPages.Newseum.WDC.24September2015 by Evert Barnes, Flickr. CC by SA-2.0.