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Boosting Upward Mobility: Metrics to Inform Local Action

As communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and develop long-term recovery strategies, it is critical that they think intentionally about how their plans can also advance economic and social mobility for their residents. And as the nation grapples with the latest evidence of racial inequity and injustice, communities must also pursue actions to narrow long-standing gaps in opportunities for upward mobility. We know local decisionmakers will be confronted with both constrained resources and extraordinary levels of need. As local leaders, policymakers, philanthropists, and others consider how to create equitable pathways to opportunity for the most vulnerable in their communities and how to prioritize resources, knowing what to measure and how will be fundamental to their success. 

On June 16, join the Urban Institute for a discussion about how evidence-informed metrics can help communities and local decisionmakers catalyze and prioritize efforts to boost upward mobility for all their residents. We will share a preliminary set of metrics that build on the work of the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty and reflect its expansive definition of mobility, which incorporates economic success, power and autonomy, and being valued in one’s community. Urban Institute researchers developed these metrics with the insights and advice from a cross-disciplinary group of academic experts, the Mobility Metrics Working Group, and through stakeholder conversations in communities around the country. 

Speakers will share lessons from research and practice about the potential of metrics to shape strategies that improve outcomes for people and communities, and we will conclude by announcing a new initiative to support community learning and action using this framework. 


Opening Remarks

  • Sarah Rosen Wartell, President, Urban Institute @swartell

Presenting the Mobility Metrics

  • Margery Austin Turner, Senior Vice President for Program Planning and Management, Urban Institute @maturner

Developing the Mobility Metrics: The Working Group

  • David J. Harding, Professor, University of California, Berkeley @DJHardingSoc
  • Rucker Johnson, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley @ProfRucker
  • Jessica Trounstine, Foundation Board of Trustees Presidential Chair and Professor of Political Science, University of California, Merced @trounstine
  • Margery Austin Turner, Senior Vice President for Program Planning and Management, Urban Institute (moderator) @maturner

Using Metrics to Drive Change: Perspectives for Policymakers

  • Shaun Donovan, former Secretary, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and former Director, Office of Management and Budget @ShaunDonovanNYC
  • Erika C. Poethig, Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, Urban Institute @Erika_Poethig

Closing Discussion

  • Ryan Rippel, Director, Economic Mobility and Opportunity, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation @gatesfoundation
  • Erika C. Poethig, Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, Urban Institute @Erika_Poethig




Support for this event is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
For more information on the Urban Institute’s funding principles, go to

Until further notice, all Urban Institute events will be online or postponed.
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Send any inquiries regarding this event to [email protected].


Date & Time Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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