The Power of Communities

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By Terri Ludwig, President of Philanthropy

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the Results for America Summit in Washington, DC. The room was full of smart people from all levels of government, working to solve wickedly hard problems in their communities. We had come to discuss what works to advance economic mobility, with a clear focus on data.

I felt right at home because at Ballmer Group, we believe government is the biggest driver of any change and data is critical for effective decision making.

But the factors keeping people in poverty today are so big and so complicated that no single organization or system can take them on. I heard throughout the day a consistent theme, from mayors and academics alike, that additional federal expenditures are unlikely in the near future, so government definitely can’t do it alone. Our public officials need partners who can both invest alongside them and deliver precious services they can’t provide themselves.  

In my talk, I explore the role of communities as powerful agents of change. I tell the story of Dayton, where a data-based, results-oriented initiative called Preschool Promise is now a national exemplar for early childhood education. When people from different fields work together – including government, nonprofits, companies, and philanthropies - it makes the whole system smarter.

The problems of poverty are all interconnected, and our solutions must be, too.

Click below to watch my 12-minute talk.