Terri Ludwig: Understanding systems change through the story of Elena


By: Terri Ludwig, President, Ballmer Group Philanthropy

At Ballmer Group, we are focused on improving economic mobility. To work on this effectively, we need to understand the complex challenges faced by children and families living in poverty.

There are a range of supports that help a person move up economically, from fulfilling basic needs like health care, nutrition, and housing, to reaching academic milestones that set kids up for future success. But we think that focusing on one issue alone will never bring about the change we hope to see.

That’s why Connie and Steve are directing our philanthropy and civic engagement to creating opportunities that span across a young person’s life, starting with a healthy birth and culminating in a career.

To help explain how we approach our giving, I’d like to share the story of a girl we’ll call Elena. It identifies the many touchpoints in her life where she and her family may need community support to overcome barriers so she can grow up safely and finish school.

Ballmer Group works on economic mobility in the United States through supporting broad, systemic change. This comprehensive approach may take longer to prove impact, but we believe that it has a greater chance to be lasting and sustainable, giving our most vulnerable kids their best shot at moving up.