Net Impact Soap Box

Saturday, October 4, 2008

US Poverty - It's Not as Hard to Solve as We Think

Just listened to this podcast from This American Life. It's takeaway: lifting kids out of poverty in the US is not as hard as we think. It's being done right now, in Harlem, by Geoffrey Canada. Search for the "Going Big" episode here.

The deeper context for me here is something that Carla Javits of REDF said on Thursday during our Social Impact Week session on Financing Social Change: that folks in business school seem to be more excited about fighting poverty in the developing world than right here in the US. I agree that this is the case but WHY?

There are many explanations, some more flattering than others, but I believe one reason is that fighting poverty internationally in many ways just seems easier. The poverty in the US feels more rooted in the social, economic and political structures that exist here, and therefore, less mobile. We talk about upward mobility in America a lot but addressing poverty on a massive scale in the US feels harder to address here than it does in a place like India. An interesting possibility but this podcast makes me question whether our lack of interest is that it is harder here or just that we just aren't trying hard enough. -ML

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