The Rockefeller Foundation Announces $65 Million Investment in America’s Working Families

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Rockefeller Foundation Announces $65 Million Investment in America’s Working Families

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 25, 2020 – The Rockefeller Foundation today announced a comprehensive $65 million investment to help more than 10 million low-wage workers and their families across the United States meet their basic needs and have a path to a better future. As part of this investment, the Foundation is also launching the U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative ($36.5 million from 2019-2021) to transform economic stability and mobility for nearly 5 million low-wage workers in America and leverage over $1 billion in private capital by 2025.

“Far too many people work hard and play by the rules, but the American Dream feels more out of reach than ever before – and for many marginalized communities, it was hardly accessible to begin with,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Over our 106-year history, The Rockefeller Foundation has stepped up during our country’s most critical moments. To meet the moment today and going forward, we have to fight on every front to expand opportunity for America’s working families.”

There are more than 44 million working households – representing more than 90 million people across the United States – that have trouble paying their bills each month. To start, the Foundation’s new Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative is targeting proven economic policies like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) and promoting public-private partnerships to mobilize more responsible investment in Opportunity Zones.

In addition to the new Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative, the Foundation is investing nearly $30 million in cross-Foundation efforts to improve the lives and livelihoods of more than 5 million working families, children, and individuals in America – from enabling public schools and health payers to direct their dollars toward healthy and sustainable food, to using data science and technology to make America’s social safety net more efficient and effective, to expanding access to reliable, renewable power for critical facilities in Puerto Rico, among other programs. Today’s new, comprehensive investment in America’s working families is part of the wider $160 million the Foundation has committed since 2017 to lifting up underserved and vulnerable communities in the United States.

Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit

On the policy front, the Foundation will reach at least 4.6 million people at the state level by promoting awareness about the impact of expanding and modernizing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). These policies have proven to be two of the most effective tools for lifting families above the federal poverty line. Research indicates that the EITC and CTC successfully boost earnings for low-wage workers, while generating substantial benefits in the areas of health, education, and quality of life. For example during the 2018 tax year, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculates that a family with children received an average EITC of $3,191, and when combined with the CTC, 10.6 million people were lifted out of poverty.

Previously, the Foundation provided financial support to the Economic Security Project to pilot EITC/CTC education and outreach programs in California and Maine. Early results indicate that three million households are expected to be recipients of the California EITC for the 2019 tax year, a 50 percent increase from the two million that claimed the credit during the previous year, and an estimated 102,000 households will benefit from the Maine EITC, which is up by nearly 20 percent from 2018. Over the next year, the Foundation will replicate this effort in at least eight states, with work already under way in four: Economic Security for Illinois; Missouri Budget Project, which includes 203 state-wide organizations through its Campaign for Tax Fairness; New Jersey Policy Perspective with its partner, Make the Road NJ; and Solid Ground Washington through its initiative, Statewide Poverty Action Program...