The Center for Applied Public Research, has launched a pilot program connecting public sector employees across the country around the topic of economic mobility.

The Economic Mobility Policy Forum, the first of its kind, kicked off this month with two webinars led by Policy Fellows, competitively chosen public sector leaders who have demonstrated in-the-field success. Topics discussed included gentrification, food systems, housing, education, and attempts to leverage technology and data to help low-income people.

“It’s great to have so many people from all over, working on different aspects of economic mobility, come together and share their experiences and challenges,” said Meg Burke, Community of Practice Manager for the Center for Applied Public Research. “Bringing these people together really drives home that no person or place can solve these problems alone.”

A cohort of 36 founding members from city and county governments, nonprofits, and school districts have joined the Policy Forum. The network offers members a low-cost opportunity to engage with peers and talk about boosting economic mobility, sharing solutions and connecting across geographic barriers in a dynamic way.

To support member learning and bring an expert perspective to the Forum, four Policy Fellows have been selected to provide regular guidance to the online community. This year’s policy fellows are:

  • Deanna Belleny, of Boston, MA: Dietitian and co-founder of Diversify Dietetics
  • Catherine Crago, of Austin, TX: Head Of Strategic Initiatives And Resource Development, Housing Authority of the City of Austin
  • Del. Robbyn Lewis, of Baltimore, MD: Delegate, District 46, Maryland General Assembly and public health professional
  • Julius Moss, of Seattle, WA: Assistant Manager of Quality Practice and Professional Development, Department of Education and Early Learning, City of Seattle

In addition to the Policy Fellows, a series of subject matter experts are slated to lead monthly discussion sessions. September’s session will feature Michelle Massie, director of Opportunity Nation, a national campaign to close the opportunity gap in the United States. Massie will moderate a conversation about measuring equity. October’s session will feature Dr. N.D.B. Connolly, an associate professor of history at Johns Hopkins University, who studies racism, capitalism, cities and migration in the late 19th and 20th centuries. 

The Policy Forum is one way the Center for Applied Public Research is advancing the public sector’s use of research and evidence to improve policy outcomes. Participants will not only be able to participate in live discussions and Q&A sessions – they also have access to exclusive resources such as policy briefs, reading lists and case studies. Members can also access Civic Impact’s GovEx Academy courses on data and performance management, stakeholder engagement and data science. Registration for the Policy Forum will open again, for a limited time, later this year. Join our waiting list and be notified when registration launches.

Lewis, who presented in the first policy forum session with Belleny, said she found value in the interactive tools used to elicit feedback from participants as well as the personal nature of the conversation.

“There was a nice kind of personal feeling to the experience, even though we’re all hundreds of miles apart,” Lewis said. “We’re creating a kind of community, and we’re building a sense of camaraderie and friendliness.” 

Belleny said the first webinar reinforced the fact that economic mobility is a multifaceted challenge with work to do in food, transportation, workplace development and other fields.

“I think it just provides a different perspective on how to support communities in different ways,” Belleny said.

“We look forward to harnessing [participants’] energy and ideas in the months to come,” Lewis said.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can join the next Policy Forum, click here.