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Uplifting Communities: Enabling Socioeconomic Growth and Opportunities


Richard Buery, CEO, Robin Hood Foundation
T.H. Sheena Meade, CEO, The Clean Slate Initiative
Tatiana Torres, Associate Partner, Dentons Global Advisors; Board Member, Concordia

“Poverty is a policy choice. We don’t have to live this way, we choose to live this way.”

– Richard Buery

“94% of employers, over 90% of landlords, and 72% of colleges and universities use background checks to screen applicants, making it harder for people to access jobs, higher education, and housing.”

– Sheena Meade

“Folks with a voice are still voiceless.”

– Tatiana Torres

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • People with prior criminal records face significant barriers when trying to secure employment, housing, and educational opportunities due to background checks. This challenge is prevalent, impacting a substantial portion of the population, with an estimated 70 to 114 million Americans having experienced an arrest or conviction.
  • Clean Slate laws automate record-clearing for those who’ve completed their sentences, fostering economic opportunities by removing barriers to jobs, housing, and education. To aid individuals with records and decrease the economic impact, advocate for nationwide support and expansion of these laws.
  • Poverty fundamentally stems from a lack of financial resources, resulting in numerous challenges in people’s lives. The benefits of policies like the expansion of the child tax credit lead to a decrease in child poverty. There is a dual necessity to invest in both organizations and public policies to effectively combat poverty.
  • Poverty and race intersect in the U.S., requiring the dismantling of systemic racism for a fairer society and economy. Community engagement, especially from those directly affected by poverty and racial disparities, should guide policies combating these inequalities.
  • Foundations like Robin Hood should persist in funding initiatives that alleviate poverty, prioritizing marginalized communities through direct assistance and evidence-based policy advocacy.