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Living Cities
Improving the lives of low income people & the cities where they live.
Improving the lives of low income people & the cities where they live.

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Tomorrow, June 5! Join our CEO, Ben Hecht for a Google Hangout with Forbes' Contributor, Devin Thorpe: 'Inequality Of Income Presents A Threat To Our Society, Our Economy And Our Democracy'. Noon Eastern TIme. 
Read the full Forbes article and watch the interview here:

Ben Hecht, CEO of Living Cities, is an impact investor whose passion makes him more of a crusader than a financier.

Consider his statement to me,  “Unless we ferociously change course, the majority of our citizens in 2040 will be less educated, less prosperous, and less free than our current majority, due to decades of dysfunctional systems, disinvestment, mass incarceration, and disenfranchisement of people and communities of color.” 

Advocating a wholistic, collective approach to addressing urban problems, Hecht says, “A new type of urban practice aimed at dramatically improving the economic well-being of low-income people faster will require all players – individuals, business, philanthropy, government, nonprofits, and academia – to focus on their part of the solution and build permanent capacity that can insure we get increasingly better results over time.” 

Hecht is calling for an radical acceleration to problem solving, “For too long we have been satisfied with incremental change for society’s most pressing issues, but it is time to look at the denominator and face how much progress still has to be made for these problems to be eradicated.”

“There is increasingly a growing awareness that inequality of income, wealth and access to opportunity, accentuated along racial lines, is one of the key social issues of our time.If left unresolved it presents a serious threat to our society, our economy and our democracy,” Hecht notes.

Living Cities is striving to play a central role in accelerating change. Hecht said, “Living Cities is on a course to do more than just imagining what’s possible. We want to work with a coalition of the willing to make the possibilities reality. In May, we took the conversation offline, convening over 100 folks in our networks—from our member institutions, to grantees, to our staff, to our social media followers, to a diversity of other thought leaders, dreamers and doers in such diverse fields as civic tech, impact investing, philanthropy, business, the financial sector, social entrepreneurship, government, and philanthropy—to participate in an active process of co-design.”

Two key opportunities were identified at the summit.

“One challenge we discussed at the summit was the need to create urgency without catastrophes, such as the bankruptcy in Detroit or Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, to achieve systemic instead of episodic change,” Hecht said.

“Another was that public sector leadership, resources, and talent can and must be fostered, unlocked, and optimized in order to achieve dramatically better results for low income people. Along similar lines, it was clear that there is a need for an investment in talent across the social sector generally,” Hecht concluded.

Please consider whether a friend or colleague might benefit from this piece and, if so, share it.

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Storytelling and Social Change
Stories, I am convinced, shape us, inform us, inspire us and spur us to action every day. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ opened so many eyes to the ugly reality of racism in the American South in the 1930’s and still continues to educate us as to the origins of racial inequities today. From Gordon Parks’ groundbreaking, provocative, photo essays to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism that pushes us to think about politicized issues like immigration in human terms, we can probably all write a very long list of powerful #storytelling that has moved us or changed us in some way... Read More:

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How do you create a more "lively" #CollectiveImpact? We asked Kirsten Wysen, The Integration Initiative Site Director in Seattle/King County: [VIDEO]

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How do you create large-scale change in a city? We asked #NewOrleans

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+Brookings Institution's Bruce Katz talks Innovation Districts & Economic Opportunity

While the national #economy  finally seems to be accelerating in the aftermath of the recession—with growth nearing 5% and unemployment falling to under 6%—the fact remains that much of this growth eludes low-income people. Solving this distributional #inequality  will require policy change at multiple levels of government, from federal tax reform to state-level #education  initiatives.

But, at the end of the day, many of these low-income families live and work in our cities; and by rethinking how we build our #cities, we can achieve better economic opportunities for our citizens...

Read more:

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How do you think that our nation can advance the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr?

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Early #college high schools, applied learning opportunities & #digital access = 3 ways Universities are building a #NewUrbanPractice

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U.S. cities can build a #newurbanpractice and grow economically by becoming more welcoming to #immigrants. Examples from Welcoming America:

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Today we released the ‪#‎CityAcclerator‬ Guide for ‪#‎Innovation in Local Government. The guide, by Boston Mayor's +New Urban Mechanics founder, +Nigel Jacob, offers practical guidance & action steps for local leaders looking to build an enduring culture & practice of innovation. Download:

*The guide is made possible by support from the +Citi Foundation.

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A #NewUrbanPractice in Boston

Boston Public Schools & The Boston Foundation joined local partners to provide coaching to students, with a goal of doubling their #collegecompletion rates. #SuccessBoston
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