The Scale of the Problem
Across the country, individuals and communities are coming together to advance strategies that boost economic and social mobility for young people and families in poverty. But too often, these strategies are stymied by public policies that create and uphold outdated, racist, and inequitable systems. Administrative, budgetary, and legislative policy decisions at all levels of government—local, state, and federal—can powerfully influence one’s ability to reach their full potential in life. Without cross-sector coalitions collaborating on policy change efforts to advance economic mobility, millions of Americans are at risk of remaining in poverty.
Americans living below 200% of the federal poverty level
of US adults are unable to cover unexpected costs of $400
of people living in economic insecurity are people of color
A Promising Solution
PolicyLink’s “Winning on Equity” Strategy” focuses on advancing policy and practice changes that result in improved outcomes for the over 100 million people living at or near the federal poverty line – the majority of whom are people of color. Through this strategy, PolicyLink expects to make progress in three core areas: unlocking resources to build thriving communities and place-based infrastructure for disinvested communities; creating a more equitable economy; and promoting a healthy multiracial democracy by supporting government leaders and agencies at all levels.
federal agencies and departments prepared Equity Action Plans in response to President Biden’s Racial Equity Executive Order
users of the PolicyLink National Equity Atlas leveraging data to change policy
federal policy wins to advance economic and social mobility
Blue Meridian's Investment
Our five-year investment supports PolicyLink’s long-term “Winning on Equity” strategy to make progress against three core objectives: building capacity to collaboratively develop and shape policies that advance equitable economic and social mobility; developing a diverse, cross-sector coalitions of public, social, and private sector leaders and organizations capable of coordinated policy and systems change work; and laying the groundwork for activating the coalitions to seize policy opportunities to improve population-level outcomes.
$50M invested over 5 years
Build PolicyLink’s capacity to collaboratively develop and shape policies that advance equitable economic and social mobility
Develop diverse, cross-sector coalitions of public, social, and private sector leaders and organizations capable of advancing policy and systems change
Why We Are Excited About PolicyLink
Every organization in our investment portfolio is ready to embark on significant scaling and displays a multitude of strengths. Here are some highlights of the tremendous potential we saw in PolicyLink’s scaling strategy that motivated us to invest:
Emphasis on Equity
Across its work, PolicyLink has an explicit focus on equity, especially racial equity. PolicyLink has been instrumental in defining the “Curb-Cut Effect” – which asserts that an investment in the most marginalized communities can also benefit the broader nation – and using it to shape and influence equitable policy agendas. The “Curb-Cut” policies that PolicyLink works to advance have the potential to generate benefits for all Americans, with outsized impact for millions of Americans living in or near poverty and communities of color.
Visionary & Experienced Leadership
PolicyLink’s dynamic and diverse leadership team brings experience across policy, corporate change, grassroots organizing, and philanthropy. PolicyLink was founded by Angela Glover Blackwell, a pioneering leader in racial equity and place-based work, and is today led by Michael McAfee, who transitioned to President and CEO after serving as the inaugural director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute. McAfee brings senior leadership experience at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and Greater Kansas City Community Foundation and Affiliated Trusts and is a prominent, trusted national leader in equity and policy.
Potential for National, Cross-Domain Impact
PolicyLink works across domains, advancing policy solutions related to housing, education, employment, and criminal justice, among others. With a long track record of achieving policy wins at all levels of government, PolicyLink is well-positioned to capitalize on policy change opportunities that would have important benefits for the millions of Americans living in poverty today.
PolicyLink is a national research and action institute focused on advancing racial and economic equity. For over 20 years, PolicyLink has been a leader in achieving policy wins at the federal, state, and local level. Their work combines advocacy, applied research and communication, constituency and network engagement, and implementation capacity to shape policy across three focus areas: promoting economic inclusion and equity, building healthy communities, and creating a just society. PolicyLink has articulated a strategy, “Winning on Equity,” to build capacity and needed infrastructure for long-term policy change.
President and CEO
Michael McAfee is the president and CEO of PolicyLink. He previously served as the inaugural director of the organization’s Promise Neighborhood Institute. Before joining PolicyLink, McAfee served as senior community planning and development representative in the Chicago Regional Office of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). McAfee previously served in the US Army and has studied at George Washington University and Harvard University.
Winning on Equity
The ‘Winning on Equity’ campaign unites movement leaders, government agencies, and corporate power to redesign America’s laws, regulations, and governing structures to achieve racial equity, ensuring that all people thrive in a multiracial democracy and just economy.