Economic Opportunity Session Recaps

Our Economic Opportunity Program explores strategies that donors can support to ensure people achieve greater economic independence, security, and mobility through work; savings, credit, and asset building; and entrepreneurship. Here are the full economic opportunity session recaps from our 2018 Annual Meeting:


The Future of Work in an Age of Artificial Intelligence 

Andrew McAfee of MIT described to donors what the technological hallmarks of the 21st century — interconnectedness and artificial intelligence — mean for the workforce. In a conversation with David Egner of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, McAfee denounced the fear often associated with artificial intelligence, citing AI as a powerful tool to solve society’s challenges. McAfee explained the redistribution of prosperity that often accompanies technological advancement and the resultant need for experimentation and innovation in mid-career upskilling, as well as for increased dynamism in the American workplace. When asked what skills will make a successful worker in the future, McAfee identified three: quantitative reasoning, social competence, and the ability to “poke at the world” and point out problems that need solving. Watch the full session here.


Left to right: Andrew McAfee, David Egner
Photography by: LILA PHOTO

Disruptive Technology: Preparing a Ready Workforce

Predictions about the future of work are varied and far-reaching. Where some see the end of work, others see unprecedented opportunities to rethink our relationship to work. This panel detailed the kinds of disruptions we are seeing in the labor market and how philanthropy can best prepare people to thrive among the changes. Together they answered the question, “What are some of the best ways to ‘future-proof’ the workforce?” Speakers highlighted the importance of soft skills, employer-specific training, and reorienting public policy towards a focus on work and family. Listen to the full audio here.


Left to right: Matt Sigelman, Oren Cass, Mauricio Ferrazza, Kathleen Plinske
Photography by: LILA PHOTO

From Startups to Scale Ups: How Can Philanthropy Nurture High-growth Entrepreneurial Ventures?

Miami leads the nation in the number of new startups but ranks low in the number of high-growth firms, the important drivers of jobs, output, and productivity. Community partners, including Endeavor Miami, Venture Hive, and area colleges are ramping up entrepreneurship programs and investing in the talent pipeline to address this disparity. How can philanthropy effectively invest in a strong regional entrepreneurial culture? In this session, speakers stressed the importance of investing in entities with clear missions and metrics for measuring impact and the need to consider catalytic funding in terms of the level of community connectivity. They also reminded donors it can take years to nurture the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Listen to the full audio here.


Left to right: Raul Moas, Susan Amat, Rhomi Bhatia, Rebecca Danta
Photography by: LILA PHOTO

Do Minimum Wage Increases Help or Hurt Upward Mobility?

Mandatory minimum wage increases are being implemented in at least 18 states and 20 cities this year, as a highly-polarized debate continues to rage about the real impact these policies achieve. Saru Jayaraman of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and University of California, Berkeley is one of the key leaders in pushing for the $15 minimum wage and the end to a sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. Meanwhile, the Employment Policies Institute’s Michael Saltsman believes that these policies lead to fewer jobs, fewer hours, and fewer hires. Maria Kim of Cara Chicago took the middle ground, that while higher wages are ideal, she is sensitive to the financial constraints of employers. This lively discussion offered contrasting viewpoints on alternative wage policies, worker dignity, upward mobility, and workplace dynamics.


Left to right: Michael Saltsman, Maria Kim, Saru Jayaraman
Photography by: LILA PHOTO