Coding the way to more inclusive cities

Wed, 2016-07-06 13:00 -- Compassionate C...

This spring the Ford Foundation and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) launched the Inclusive Growth in Cities campaign. They created a network of what they call "champion mayors" who committed to promoting policies and practices that foster both economic growth and inclusiveness. So what does that look like? Several strategies were discussed at a recent event hosted by Brookings and the National League of Cities, including an interesting experiment in Atlanta that trains "disconnected youth" to fill high-growth tech jobs. -- Philip Bane


So what is inclusive growth? The OECD defines it as "economic growth that creates opportunity for all segments of the population and distributes the dividends of increased prosperity, both in monetary and non-monetary terms, fairly across society."

OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría presented research at the Brookings event that indicated income inequality is actually higher in the U.S. than most other wealthy nations. That inequality, he noted, can inhibit broader growth if lower-income people don't have resources to invest in their future. So inclusion is key to boosting economic growth and productivity, Gurría suggested.

Investing in disconnected youth
King County (Washington) Executive Dow Constantine made the point that investing in early childhood development can help put youngsters on the path to educational and economic success, according to a Brookings post.

CodeStart founder Rodney Sampson, meanwhile, discussed investing in older, "disconnected youth" and training them to be junior-level software engineers or developers. A collaborative public-private partnership with Atlanta's Workforce Development Agency and others, Code Start offers a year of free training for low-income people ages 18 to 24 with a high school diploma or GED.

Sampson sees the possibility of several positive outcomes if what he calls his "experiment" is successful. Young people in the program learn in-demand coding skills along with critical thinking skills, financial literacy, career readiness – and they get a safe place to live. The goal is to prepare them for high-growth jobs and also to encourage more diversity in the technology industry and to nurture a more inclusive economy.

Related articles:
Nonprofit turns low-income wage earners into skilled IT workers – for free
A workforce training strategy that helps economic development and the disadvantaged

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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