Inclusive Economy for a Just East Bay
“For an economy to function well, it should be growing, sustainable, and stable. But it should also be growing for all people–not just creating wealth and financial stability for some but ensuring that every person has equitable opportunities for good jobs, and career paths in order to be free from the worry of meeting basic human needs or financial hardship.”
~Venkat Mohan, EBCF Fund Holder
EBCF’s vision of an inclusive, fair, and just East Bay is rooted in the notion of equal opportunity for all. However, we know well that structural barriers prevent this vision from being a reality. This has precluded some communities from accessing the same economic opportunity and prosperity enjoyed by many of their neighbors. To create a truly inclusive economy, the foundation is seeking to raise resources, fund social movement organizations and to effect policy and systems change that move us closer to an economy that works for all.
An Inclusive Economy provides equitable opportunities for good jobs, entrepreneurship, and career pathways, particularly for underserved communities. We aspire to live in an East Bay with vibrant, resilient communities, strong local economies, and thriving industries that contribute to a sustainable environment, and the health, well-being, and prosperity of its residents.
“I have been working at the Marshalls in Emeryville’s Powell Street Plaza for the past 3 and half years. I work hard at my job and do my best as an employee. I need to work around 20 hours a week to help pay my college tuition as well as help pay rent and support my family. But recently my hours have become fewer and less predictable. In the last scheduling period I wasn’t scheduled for a single shift. With uneven income and rents increasing so drastically in the East Bay, my family was forced to leave the Fruitvale neighborhood where we have lived our entire lives – despite the fact that all 5 of my parents and siblings work. I budget my finances tightly, but without the hours over the past several months I’ve accrued thousands in credit card debt in order to make ends meet. And it’s not just me, I know many retail workers with similar experiences. Having a fair work week in Emeryville would allow me to get the hours that I need in order to pay for college, support my family and have the freedom to live a healthy life where I can plan and control my own time.”
Bay Area Ranked Third in Economic Inequality
In spite of the regional economic boom, income inequality is on the rise with African Americans and Latinos overrepresented among the lowest earning households. The poverty rate for African Americans is more than double the poverty rate in the region, and these rates are exacerbated when adjusted for high housing costs. The region is now home to high income families that earn 11x more than families on the lower end – making ours the third most economically unequal region in the United States. Rents continue to rise, while wages have stagnated and middle wage job opportunities continue to shrink, deepening inequality. If we are to create an inclusive economy that truly lifts up all workers, there is a philanthropic imperative to strengthen community leadership and power to ensure that economic development does not lead to further inequities.
Lifting Community Solutions
Local communities of color and the organizations that amplify their voice have been collaborating to develop community-grounded solutions to the crisis of economic inequality. Housed at the East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF), the Inclusive Economy Fund seeks to scale these efforts by pooling philanthropic resources to build grassroots community leadership and power to create and expand equitable opportunities for good jobs in the region.
Featured Inclusive Economy Organizations
The East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy convenes coalitions of community, labor, and faith organizations to fight for economic and racial justice, and collaborates on the Resistance through campaigns that advance Rights, Roof, and Refuge for all.
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action (ACCE) is a multi-racial, democratic, non-profit community organization building power in low to moderate income neighborhoods to fight and stand for economic, racial and social justice.
Ensuring Opportunity Contra Costa is a collaborative effort to end poverty in Contra Costa County by addressing structural causes at the policy level. Direct services are essential to addressing the impact of poverty, but services alone are not enough to end poverty, so we must advocate for policies that address poverty at the root causes.
The Greenlining Institute is the solution to redlining. The Greenlining Institute advances economic opportunity and empowerment for people of color through advocacy, community and coalition building, research, and leadership development.
Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) is a grassroots organization of Latina immigrant women with a double mission of promoting personal transformation and building community power for social and economic justice.
Urban Peace Movement (UPM) builds youth leadership in Oakland to transform the culture and social conditions that lead to community violence & mass incarceration in communities of color. UPM’s model of “Healing-Centered Youth Organizing” supports young people to feel self-confident & hopeful while empowering them to work for healing, social justice, and a brighter future for all!
Over the years, these groups have won local and statewide policies that have significantly moved the dial on economic inequality, including:
- Measure Z (Oakland): Protects hotel workers from wage theft and sexual assault
- California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB 241): Extends overtime protections to personal attendants who care for and support thousands of individuals and families
- Fair Workweek Policy (Emeryville): Fair scheduling for retail workers
- Multiple Minimum Wage Campaigns: Both state-wide and local (El Cerrito and Oakland)
Over the past year, the partners of the Inclusive Economy Fund have been building on their historic successes to develop a long-term, regional strategy that amplifies their collective impact. Partners are exploring how technology as a platform transforms low wage work across sectors; how local real estate developers interact with tech-driven companies to shape economic development on the ground; the outsized role monopoly giants like Amazon have in shaping industries employing low wage workers and overall economic development in the region.
Inclusive Economy Ecosystem
This community process drives the direction of the Inclusive Economy Fund to ensure that community solutions are always at the forefront. The community partners have identified that the critical components of any inclusive economy strategy must be based on:
- Policy and systems change;
- Community leadership, power, and ownership;
- Community innovation; and
- Shifting capital to better reflect values of equity and justice.
Through this framework, an inclusive economy in the East Bay is one which provides equitable opportunities for good living-wage jobs, long-term career pathways, and socially responsible entrepreneurship – especially for those who are traditionally left behind. Indeed, we can achieve an inclusive economy when historically disenfranchised communities, especially low-income and communities of color, the formerly-incarcerated, and new immigrants, fully participate in and benefit from economic decisions that shape their neighborhoods and the region. Thus is the charge for the Inclusive Economy Fund and its community partners.
Goals and Outcomes
The goal of the Inclusive Economy Fund is to build community capacity and leadership in order to influence economic development decision-making in the East Bay. Through this approach, we aim to:
- Demonstrate a systems-change approach through coordinated actions and interventions by community partners in a public policy process
- Connect first-hand, lived experiences with academic research and organizing to create research-informed, community-led campaigns or policy blueprints for equitable economic development that can be implemented at the city and/or county level
- Strengthen inclusive economy movement infrastructure, which is critical in achieving sustainable long-term change to move beyond only organizing city-by-city or project-by-project to a regional strategy with a more long-term, future facing stance
- Create an inclusive economy for the East Bay, where historically disenfranchised communities have access to good living-wage jobs, long-term career pathways, and entrepreneurship – all rooted in socially responsible businesses that benefit the environment and creates wealth.
Role for Funders and Donors
Funders and individual donors are invited to participate in the Inclusive Economy Fund, which supports the on-going collaborative work of grassroots community organizations. All contributions have a real and lasting impact and move our community closer to the goal of an inclusive economy in the East Bay.