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Our vision: Equitable growth and sustainable, resilient communities


The American Dream, at its core, is comprised of upward mobility and equitable growth. By middle class, we don’t mean just middle income, but also enabling access to the things we associate with a middle class lifestyle.

Those include adequate health care, child care, education, housing and transportation—and sufficient economic security (a well-paying job, savings, a retirement plan). Families need the ability to handle emergency expenses and make long-term plans.

At the core of this approach is the goal of creating a future of shared prosperity through equitable growth. We need strategies that both:

  1. Bolster the ability to grow and remain within the middle class
  2. Ensure equal opportunity and equal access

Our approach: Growing the middle


Generating innovative ideas for local families that increase economic opportunities for those in danger of falling out of the middle class, and also stabilize and expand the middle class, is imperative. To do so, we emphasize two pathways:

  • PATHWAY #1: Greater upward mobility of lower-income earners who are without the economic securities of the middle class.
  • PATHWAY #2: Greater stability for those middle class individuals who are economically vulnerable and at risk of falling out of the middle class.

These innovative strategies must have the strongest potential to meet a specific goal:

 Raise the incomes of 10,000 households by 10% by 2020 in targeted Ohio communities.

Submitted strategies can focus on households, communities or employers, or may be a hybrid approach that combines these in creative ways:

HOUSEHOLDS: People-based strategies that seek to directly increase income or reduce expenses. These may include direct payments that reduce expenses and facilitate income growth and stability. There can be strategies to reduce household debt through assistance with student loans or mortgages, while other strategies can strive to protect households from financial shocks, such as increased savings and access to liquidity.

COMMUNITIES: Place-based strategies that seek to increase household net incomes through investments in a particular neighborhood or community. These may include investments in transportation, infrastructure or facilities. Or perhaps they’re investments in community-based organizations that link residents to education, workforce training programs and employment opportunities.

EMPLOYERS: People or place-based strategies that seek to increase household income by growing local businesses, employee job skills or entrepreneurship. These may include business incubators, local business retention/expansion initiatives and public investments, e.g., in education, technology or infrastructure, that will spur a “crowding in” of private investment.

We use this guiding framework to develop a solicitation process that inspires a range of creative thinking and effective partnerships among academic communities, engineers, scientists, policymakers, investors and community advocates.

We will cast a broad net to surface a multitude of innovative ideas and then work with proposal teams to further develop and hone ideas.

We ask the communities at large to submit their best solutions and suggestions. From many ideas that are submitted, 10 proposals are further developed and three selected for potential investment.

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