Thursday, June 16, 2011

Moving the income/wealth needle

Our work at CitySquare takes us in a number of directions pragmatically. 

Our mission remains fairly straightforward and ambitious:  CitySquare exists to fight the root causes of poverty by partnering with those in need. Working together as a community, we feed the hungry, heal the sick, house the homeless and renew hope in the heart of our city.

Of course, as they say, the devil's in the details.

A growing concern and constant focus for us is how do we measure impact, change and "success" as we do our work? 

Increasingly, funding organizations, including foundations, the United Way and public agencies, expect clear reports that measure "return on investment" of their scarce dollars. 

As we move forward, we are developing precise measurement tools and techniques designed to reveal whether or not individual and/or family wealth is growing or shrinking.  Using a common intake form, our various departments are now benchmarking income as folks enter the CitySquare

Along the way, we will revisit the income status of individuals and families to see if we are "moving the needle" in the right direction or not.  The exercise will provide us another objective measure of program effectiveness.  Programs and strategies that improve household income will be further developed.   Those efforts that do not "pay off" for households will be evaluated for improvement or discontinued as our focus turns toward more effective responses to poverty. 

The idea of "wealth managers" working at the bottom of the economic pyramid may seem strange. 

It shouldn't. 

The vehicles for wealth creation may be different, but the principles remain the same.  Employment and wage improvement, evaluating and bundling public benefits and on-going community support and belonging will all play key roles in seeing our neighbors progress upward in our economy. 

As Peter Drucker once said, "What gets measured gets managed." 

CitySquare is all about helping to create new trajectories for our neighbors and friends who call the inner city home.  I hope you'll join us.

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