Economic Opportunity and Financial Empowerment


  • Heidi Goldberg
December 15, 2016 - (2 min read)

City leaders can help families and neighborhoods become more economically secure by connecting children and families to public benefits and helping families learn financial skills, save for emergencies and the future and invest in assets that generate wealth and income.

Featured Resource: Working Parents, Thriving Cities

Cities can create opportunities for thousands of struggling parents and their children by shaping a family-centered approach to workforce development – one that targets services and supports to parents with a goal to strengthen the economic health of workers’ families.

With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the National League of Cities conducted a scan of municipal efforts to improve the employment outcomes of parents and identify promising strategies. This review of local parent employment efforts across the country revealed a disconnect between the aspirations of cities to improve economic mobility for families and the absence of a specific focus in city workforce development strategies on parent employment outcomes.

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Public Benefits

Millions of working families in America are struggling to pay for food, shelter and healthcare. By connecting families with health insurance, federal nutrition programs and other benefits, city leaders can help alleviate poverty and improve the local economy.

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Task Force on Economic Mobility and Opportunity

Launched in late-2016 by then NLC President Matt Zone, councilmember form Cleveland, Ohio, the Task Force on Economic Mobility and Opportunity spent a year sharing ideas and strategies for building economic mobility in their communities, and provided a forum for discussing how racial inequities contribute to longstanding disparities in economic opportunity.

In November 2017, the task force, made up of 22 elected officials from across the country, released a set of 33 recommendations, “Keeping the American Dream Alive: Expanding Economic Mobility and Opportunities in America’s Cities,” to improve economic and mobility in cities of all sizes.

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Financial Inclusion

Many low-income families have little or no financial reserves to draw upon in the event of job loss, accident or illness, or other personal crises. City officials can help local residents build financial assets by promoting financial education, connecting low-income residents with mainstream financial services and promoting savings strategies.

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