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Baltimore among five communities chosen for four-year anti-poverty initiative

Baltimore is one of five communities selected for a four-year, $25 million initiative to craft solutions to help families to move out of poverty.

Led by the New York-based anti-poverty organization Robin Hood, teams will work in urban, suburban and rural communities across the country to study local data and develop pathways to self-sufficiency and economic opportunities for the families who live there.

Nisha Patel, a managing director at Robin Hood, said the goal is to change the national conversation around what it takes for a family living in poverty to find social and economic mobility — and discover new ways to understand their hardships and how to transcend them.

“Baltimore is a place where we see both need and opportunity,” Patel said. “It is a city that, in many ways, is relatable to other cities.”

Beginning in the spring, Robin Hood will pair up with a local partner to study trends and data in Baltimore to find places and times of life in which people tend to get stuck in poverty, Patel said. From there, she said the teams will work with the community to consider and develop various interventions.

“We don’t go in with a top-down idea,” Patel said.

The other communities involved in the initiative are New York, suburban Chicago, rural Northeast Pennsylvania and the San Francisco Bay Area.

At the end of the four years, the goal is to identify short-term predictors that allow people to move out of poverty and identify measures to guide future efforts to fight poverty. Another goal is to create a cohort of experts initiative-wide who understand and will promote new narratives about what it takes for a family to move out of poverty.

Formally called the Mobility Learning and Action Bets, or Mobility LABs, the initiative was announced Monday at Robin Hood’s conference, “No City Limits: Reimagining the Poverty Fight 2019.” Patel said the initiative will build on Robin Hood’s work to identify and invest in efforts in New York City.

The initiative is in partnership with several other nonprofits, including the Owings Mills-based Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Also contributing are Tipping Point Community of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of Seattle.

Robin Hood is led by Wes Moore, a best-selling Baltimore author and Rhode scholar.

“Mobility LABs will allow us to partner with impactful funders in diverse geographies across the country to work with communities to test and drive solutions lifting families from poverty,” Moore said in a statement.

ywenger@baltsun.com

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