The City of Roanoke announces its selection to the Equitable Economic Mobility Initiative (EEMI), a 15-month technical assistance and grant project led by the National League of Cities (NLC) aimed at boosting economic mobility for residents while addressing long-standing racial inequalities.
“We’re honored to be selected by the National League of Cities to participate in this grant project,” said Sherman P. Lea, Sr., Mayor of Roanoke. “The project is a welcomed addition to the City’s Equity and Innovation Cluster, which focuses on financial stability and wealth building for all citizens through the Financial Empowerment Center and Bank On Program. The United Way of Roanoke Valley has been a partner in those existing programs, and will serve as a partner in this effort with the NLC. The Pandemic has placed a spotlight on already existing inequities, as well as the urgent need to address the inequities.”
"The COVID-19 Impact Survey Report conducted by UWRV in partnership with over 30 cross-sector partners in Spring 2021 revealed an increasing number of families that are struggling as a result of the pandemic. We are excited and ready to work with the City and other community partners on collaborative approaches to ensure that we serve the most vulnerable and marginalized, and create clear and transformational pathways to long-term financial stability," said Abby Hamilton, President & CEO of United Way of Roanoke Valley.
Far beyond any previous recession, the economic fallout from COVID-19 decimated many families' financial stability and economic security while upending many community norms. What's more, health and economic indicators point to the pandemic's disproportionate impact on people of color, worsening existing inequalities.
The City of Roanoke was selected for the Initiative because of the local government's demonstrated commitment to racial equity and resident economic mobility, along with the strong existing partnerships and the City’s capacity for data collection and analysis. Roanoke is one of seven other cities from across the country to receive technical assistance and support from NLC's expert staff to help advance the City's efforts in promoting economic mobility for all residents.
The Roanoke Project Team will conduct an assessment of jobs being created in Roanoke’s Innovation Corridor, a collaborative community of entrepreneurs, businesses, government agencies, and higher education professionals working to create opportunity and success in research, healthcare, and technology. A simultaneous assessment will be conducted to compliment the UWRV’s survey data on the impacts of COVID-19 on the local community, and specifically on unemployment. The information gathered will guide a plan to assist those left unemployed with new skills and potential opportunities in Roanoke’s Innovation Corridor.
In the months ahead, EEMI cities will explore finding culturally appropriate ways to engage with residents on the issue of economic mobility with the ultimate goal of moving more residents towards wealth building.
“Many local governments are investing in programs that help people meet their basic needs, but few examine how existing systems can be improved to help families build wealth,” said Dr. Robert Blaine, Senior Executive and Director of the Institute for Youth, Education and Families at the National League of Cities. “The National League of Cities is proud to work with the City of Roanoke in its efforts to address long-standing racial inequality and help promote the inherent dignity of each of its residents by expanding opportunities for economic mobility within the community.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation generously supports the Equitability Economic Mobility Initiative.
For more information, please contact Aisha Johnson in the Roanoke’s Economic Development Department at (540) 853-5661 or [email protected]; Connie Stevens with United Way at 540-777-4205, [email protected], or Kat Maramba with the National League of Cities at (202) 740-3069 or [email protected].
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