Tell us about The Rockefeller Foundation’s Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative. How does investment in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) advance the goals of this program?
Using the tools of policy, data, technology, science, innovative finance, and the power of convening to identify and scale up solutions to address the needs of working people, The Rockefeller Foundation launched the U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative.
The vision of the initiative is that every person in America who works should be able to meet the basic needs of their families (economic stability) and have a path to a better future (economic mobility).
We believe that better domestic economic policy, starting with the EITC and CTC, and mobilizing new and responsible private investment in Opportunity Zones can help ensure both.
This is a relatively new area for The Rockefeller Foundation. What intrigued you about focusing in on tax credit work?
We ultimately decided to focus on the EITC and CTC as our first policy area because combined, they have lifted more Americans out of poverty than any other program except Social Security. In addition to being fundamentally bipartisan they are two of the most effective tools for boosting the incomes of hardworking women and men.
Also, there was an opportunity for us to experience what it is like to provide support in a way that strengthens the capacity of state and national coalitions, and funding these organizations to expand their education and outreach campaigns. What we learn will help inform our ongoing policy agenda and think through how we can best support coalitions doing this work.
What are some of the strategies The Rockefeller Foundation is advancing related to the EITC? What are you hoping to learn? To achieve?
We analyzed what would happen if you focused on adopting, expanding, and improving state and federal EITC and CTC, along with making the tax system (from filing to the receipt of credit) more effective, efficient, and impactful – and the results were clear.
Our end-state goals are to leverage philanthropy and convening power to expand awareness about the impact of advancing major expansion of EITC and CTC to 4.6 million people at a state level. In addition, if improvements were made alongside the doubling of the credits at the federal level, it would provide $134 billion in tax relief for 67 million people in five years. Imagine what this would mean for families all across the country!
To achieve these goals, we’re applying an integrated strategy that includes:
- Investing in the capacity of policy organizations and coalitions that seek to improve economic stability for workers at both the state and national levels;
- Promoting the use of data to inform legislation and measure impact;
- Leveraging tech-enabled innovation designed for the end-user to increase access, improve quality, and yield better outcomes; and
- Investing in social and behavioral science to understand how policies can lead to economic stability.
What issue or topics would you be interested to talk with your funder-colleagues about?
We still have a lot to learn from our peers! We are interested in thinking about how we can leverage the best practices of policy-focused funders with the best practices of movement-building funders. Good policy – the kind that really makes an impact in the lives and livelihoods of America’s low-wage workers – won’t happen if it isn’t connected to a genuine narrative and on the ground community engagement strategies, so we are eager to find new and innovative opportunities to do good work, together.