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Place of residence: Oakland, Calif.
Why she is a local hero: Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of the Oakland, Calif.-based PolicyLink, is working to bring the issues of low-income Americans to the forefront of American policy.
If America is going to compete in the new global economy, then racial and economic equity are the keys to accomplishing those goals, according to Blackwell.
Looking at the statistics, there is a certain inevitability regarding America’s growth. By the end of this decade, the majority of youth will be comprised of people of color. By 2030, a quarter of workers under 25 will be people of color. Just 12 years later, they will make up the majority, according to America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model, a report Blackwell co-authored.
But the reality is that the “American Dream” of upward mobility, along with a strong and sustainable middle class, are increasingly threatened, says Blackwell. Already, fraying bonds have been further exposed and weakened by the Great Recession that we have yet to recover from. To Blackwell, if we are going to solve these problems, achieving equity on both the racial and economic fronts is crucial.That’s why the work of PolicyLink is so vital.
“Over the past year, PolicyLink has jump-started a vital, national conversation about the relationship between changing demographics and America’s future. Through policy work, grassroots organizing, and the mainstream media, we have made great strides in directing the public’s attention toward the urgent issues impacting low-income people and people of color across the country — such as poverty, rising inequality, and stalled economic mobility,” Blackwell tells NewsOne.
PolicyLink hosted the Equity Summit in Detroit last year, where more than 2,500 government, philanthropic, and non-profit community-based leaders gathered to discuss ways to help those hardest hit by the economic crisis recover and thrive.
“Our efforts to promote a more inclusive federal policy agenda broke new ground last month, when on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the New York Times offered PolicyLink the valuable opportunity to engage a new audience on equity issues for its weekly “Sunday Dialogue.” Just a week later, this equity push quickly made its way to the White House, with more than 133 organizations nationwide called to urge President Barack Obama and members of Congress to invest in economic policies that are just and fair for all Americans,” said Blackwell.
With the presidential elections upon us, this conversation must remain at the top of the national agenda. For example, practical solutions to this issue include repairing bridges and roads, which would create opportunities for minority contractors and low-income workers to gain skills that can improve their economic standing. According to Blackwell’s report America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model:
“To succeed in the global economy, America needs a new growth model that leverages the nation’s diversity as a competitive asset. An equity-driven growth model would help by tackling racial disparities in education and employment, lifting up those at the bottom of the income spectrum, growing the middle class, and providing upward mobility for all.”
Blackwell is hopeful that some progress is being made.
“We are thrilled at how quickly the equity conversation has advanced in such a (relatively) short period of time – but we know our work is far from done. PolicyLink will continue to advocate for more jobs, better schools, healthier foods, quality transportation, and other essential tools and services that will make it possible for low-income people and communities of color across America to succeed and prosper,” she says.