Deeper Than Political Sound Bites on Economic Inequality

Wednesday, April 15, 2015
by Michael Hamill Remaley, SVP, Public Policy & Communications
This piece was originally published as the feature article for the April 2015 issue of the New York PhilanthroPost Policy Edition.
Last week, there were two reasons why I appreciated New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof.  One, he agreed to be the moderator for Philanthropy New York’s 36th Annual Meeting on June 8th (registration will open to members next week). Two, he wrote a wonderfully interesting piece titled “Enjoying the Low Life?” examining people’s perceptions of income inequality and highlighting the “2015 Social Progress Index,” asserting that perhaps “we obsess on the wrong measures, so we often have the wrong priorities.”
That was the starting point for the  program coming up next month that started with the question: Are foundations asking the right questions to apply to their grantmaking on poverty alleviation, income inequality and social mobility? Some amazing panelists who have spent their careers looking at these issues from countless angles fleshed out that idea and came up with the program “Economic Inequality and Mobility: Looking at the Evidence to Inform Philanthropy’s Actions” talking place Tuesday, May 19 from 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. 
The conversation will focus on the knowledge that philanthropic professionals should have in their intellectual toolbox and will feature leaders from a variety of economic, academic and public policy perspectives.  Our discussion leaders are:
  • Jane Waldfogel, who is the Compton Foundation Centennial Professor at Columbia School of Social Work, and has conducted extensive research on the impact of public policies on child and family well-being and on poverty, inequality and social mobility.  Among many publications, she was co-author with Russell Sage Foundation President Sheldon Danzinger the book “Securing the Future: Investing in Children from Birth to College”
  • Scott Winship, who is the Walter B. Wriston Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is a former fellow at the Brookings Institute and was a researcher on the Economic Mobility Project of The Pew Charitable Trusts. 
  • Dorian Warren, who will moderate our discussion, may be best known these days as a regular contributor on MSNBC and as an editorial board member of The Nation. But the former Russell Sage Foundation Fellow is an associate professor of Political Science and Public Affairs at Columbia University and has published extensively on the American labor movement, worker rights and “the politics and practice of economic justice.”
Having participated in the planning of this program and the framing of the discussion, I can guarantee this will be a charged and fascinating event.  These are super smart people with very different perspectives on what actions philanthropy can focus on to actually improve the lives of those who have not benefited from the positive economic trends of the last half-century.
And, there will be lots opportunities for Philanthropy New York members to ask questions, engage and create a conversation with these leaders and those in the room on issues of concern to them. 
I hope to see you there.
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