Policy & Strategies

Setting America on a course of equitable growth will require major shifts in public policy, innovative economic and workforce development strategies, and new private sector business models. We work to advance policy ideas and solutions, share equitable growth examples and strategies with advocates and changemakers, and build new effective models of inclusive economic growth.

Policy Agenda

To build an equitable economy, policymakers and advocates need to set up a policy framework that promotes equitable growth: growing new good jobs while ensuring that all—including low-income people and people of color—can fully participate in generating that growth and fully share in its benefits. We promote the following broad policy priorities:

  • GROW GOOD JOBS AND ECONOMIC SECURITY FOR ALL through accountable and equitable economic developmentstrategies, raising the floor on low-wage work, and expanding entrepreneurship and business development opportunities for people of color.
  • BUILD HUMAN CAPABILITIES by upgrading the education and skills of our diverse workforce, ensuring all children can reach their full potential in the global economy, and improving individual and community health.
  • ERASE BARRIERS AND EXPAND OPPORTUNITIES by dismantling racial barriers to economic inclusion and civic participation, building pipelines to good jobs, and implementing place-based strategies to create communities of opportunity throughout regions.

In our local and regional work, we promote equitable growth strategies including:

  • Maximizing the equity and growth returns on public spending and investment
  • Connecting underserved workers to high-opportunity, high-growth sectors
  • Leveraging the economic power of anchor institutions for community economic development
  • Starting and expanding businesses owned by people of color
  • Improving job quality and wages in the low-wage sector
  • Building equity into regional economic development strategies

See our reports Equity and the Future of the American Economy: A Policy Agenda to Build an Equitable Economy, All-In Nation: An America that Works for All, and Key Strategies to Advance Equitable Growth in Regions for more information.

All-In Cities Initiative

Cities are at the forefront when it comes to making inclusive prosperity our reality. The All-In Cities initiative equips city officials, community advocates, and civic leaders with policy ideas, data, and strategy support to build equitable, thriving cities for all. See our policy agenda, All-In Cities: Building An Equitable Economy from the Ground Up, and find our policy toolkit at www.allincities.org

Through place-based engagements and learning communities, we work with local partners to develop, advance, and disseminate the next generation of equitable growth policies and practices. Our current engagements include:

  • Buffalo, NY: We are working in partnership with Open Buffalo, a community coalition focused on justice and equity, to increase health equity and equitable development citywide, including by passing an inclusionary zoning policy and launching a community land trust in the historic Fruit Belt neighborhood. See our report, Health Equity: The Path to Inclusive Prosperity in Buffalo.
  • Cincinnati, OH: After attending Equity Summit 2015 in Los Angeles, local leaders in Cincinnati’s advocacy and philanthropic community began forming a new coalition focused on advancing equity in the city and Hamilton County. We are supporting the new coalition as it develops and launches a policy and action agenda for equitable growth.
  • Long Island, NY: In the nation’s America’s first suburb, we are working with the Urban League of Long Island to dismantle exclusionary policies and advance policies and strategies that increase health equity, wealth, and economic resilience for the Black community and all Long Islanders. See our report, Empowering Black Long Island: How Equity Is Key to the Future of Nassau and Suffolk Counties
  • New Orleans, LA: We are supporting the Office of Mayor Mitch Landrieu in developing and implementing its citywide equity strategy, #EquityNewOrleans, which was launched in May 2017. See their plan, EquityNewOrleans: The Road to Equitable Government, at www.equityneworleans.org.
  • Pittsburgh, PA: In September 2016, more than one hundred community leaders gathered in Pittsburgh for the release of Equitable Development: The Path to an All-In Pittsburgh. We are working in partnership with Neighborhood Allies, Urban Innovation21, the UrbanKind Institute, and Mongalo-Winston Consulting, and in collaboration with the City of Pittsburgh, to implement the action plan laid out in the report.
  • Sacramento, CA: In California's capital city, we are partnering with the Healthy Sacramento Coalition to implement equitable land use and zoning policies that address longstanding inequities by race and place.

We also co-convene several learning communities including:

  • Economic Inclusion in Southern Cities. The Annie E. Casey Foundation and PolicyLink are supporting Asheville, Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, and Richmond in advancing economic inclusion strategies such as anchor institution engagement, growing minority-owned businesses, and targeted workforce and hiring. Learn more.
  • Equitable Economic Development Fellowship. Through this fellowship, the National League of Cities, PolicyLink, and the Urban Land Institute are helping cities orient their economic development practices toward equitable growth. Current fellowship cities include Austin, Baltimore, Louisville, Nashville, Phoenix and Sacramento. The inaugural fellowship cities were Boston, Charlotte, Houston, Memphis, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis. Learn more.
  • Equitable Innovation Economies Initiative. In 2015-2016, the Pratt Center for Community Development, PolicyLink, and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance supported four cities — Indianapolis; New York City; Portland, OR; and San Jose – to develop inclusive growth strategies in innovation and manufacturing. Learn more and read our report: Prototyping Equity: Local Strategies for a More Inclusive Innovation Strategy.


Corporate Racial Equity Advantage

Steering businesses toward equity—from outside advocacy and by changing internal business practices—is fundamental to building an equitable economy, since the private sector provides the majority of jobs and spurs additional businesses opportunities along the supply chain. That is why PolicyLink and FSG teamed up to guide companies in assessing and actively promoting racial equity in every aspect of their business operations and strategy. Our goal is to show how companies can bolster their bottom lines through policies and practices that benefit people of color who have been excluded from the economic mainstream. See our report The Competitive Advantage of Racial Equity, and the accompanying op-ed in Fortune.

  • Reports & Publications

  • When Renters Rise, Cities Thrive: National and City Fact Sheets

    September 11, 2017

    Renters now represent the majority in the nation’s 100 largest cities, and contribute billions to local economies. Yet renters face a toxic mix of rising rents and stagnant wages, both of which add up to an unprecedented affordability crisis that stymies their ability to contribute to the broader economy and thrive. This analysis, produced in support of the Renter Week of Action occurring September 16-24, reveals what renters and the nation stand to gain from addressing this crisis. We find that nationwide, if renters paid only what was affordable for housing, they would have $124 billion extra to spend in the community every year, or $6,200 per rent-burdened household. Download the national fact sheet and press release.

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  • Advancing Health Equity and Inclusive Growth in Buffalo

    May 8, 2017

    With millions in public and private investments on the horizon, Buffalo, New York, is poised for resurgence. But if new investments do not address persistent racial and economic inequities, the city’s long-term economic future is at risk. This health equity and inclusive growth profile offers leaders data and strategies to undergird policy solutions to advance health equity, inclusive growth, and a culture of health. They were developed by PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at USC, in partnership with Open Buffalo, and with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Read the policy brief and the full profile.

  • An Equity Profile of Long Island

    April 23, 2017

    Long Island – defined as Nassau and Suffolk counties – is rapidly diversifying. Today, one in three Long Island residents is a person of color – up from roughly one in 10 residents in 1980. Black Long Islanders, who were largely excluded from the massive federally subsidized suburban development that characterizes Long Island, continue to face barriers to full social, economic, and political inclusion. This profile shows how persistent segregation and racial disparities in wealth, housing, educational attainment and many other areas is costing Long Island billions of dollars in potential economic growth each year. The accompanying policy brief provides a series of recommendations designed to close the racial wealth divide which would result in a major boost to Long Island’s economy. It was produced by PolicyLink and PERE, with support from Citi Community Development, the Long Island Community Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Read the policy brief and the full profile.

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  • Equitable Development: The Path to an All-In Pittsburgh
    September 2016

    Pittsburgh is on the rise. After decades of decline following the collapse of the steel industry, the region has successfully transformed its manufacturing economy into one driven by knowledge and technology. This resurgence brings great potential to deliver long-awaited jobs, economic opportunities, and neighborhood improvements to the region’s low-income communities and communities of color. However, the benefits of new growth and development will not automatically trickle down without a focus on equitable development. Produced by PolicyLink, along with Neighborhood Allies, and Urban Innovation21, this report presents a five-point agenda for realizing the vision of a new, “all-in” Pittsburgh, in which everyone can thrive, and highlights 16 specific recommendations for action. Read the summary and the full profile.

  • All-In Cities

    All-In Cities is a new PolicyLink initiative to empower city officials, community advocates, and other civic leaders with the policy ideas, data, and hands-on assistance they need to advance racial economic inclusion and equitable growth. Read the framing paper and sign up for email updates about the initiative at www.allincities.org

  • All-In Nation: An America that Works for All

    Produced in partnership with the Center for American Progress, this book describes how strong communities of color are critical to America’s economic future and lays out a comprehensive policy agenda to build an equitable economy. It includes essays by thought leaders and seven policy chapters including jobs, infrastructure, education/workforce, and healthy communities. Download the entire book or individual chapters at www.allinnation.org or view videos from the release events in Washington, D.C., Oakland, and New York City.

  • Building an All-In Nation: A View from the American Public

    The Center for American Progress and PolicyLink commissioned a nationwide, multilingual poll to examine how Americans view rising diversity, inequality, and the policy recommendations outlined in All-In Nation. The results show that Americans are much more open to diversity and supportive of steps to reduce racial inequalities between racial and ethnic groups than is commonly portrayed in politics and the media. Download the report and watch Soledad O’Brien’s interview with the poll analysts.

  • Economic Inclusion: Advancing an Equity-Driven Growth Model

    This paper presents a framework for infusing economic inclusion into large-scale economic development and job creation efforts and highlights Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives, Pittsburgh’s Central Keystone Innovation Zone, St. Paul’s Neighborhood Development Center, and other examples. It was a part of the Big Ideas for Job Creation series of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley. Download the report and summary