Since its founding just six years ago, Economic Security Project (ESP) has helped turn bold economic ideas into reality. We’ve conducted pilot projects, passed policies, and put cash into the pockets of tens of millions of people who needed it. We’ve made significant first strides towards a guaranteed income, and we’ve fought the monopolies skewing the economy towards their own interests.
Now we’re preparing for the next phase of the fight. To that end, we are excited to announce two changes that will increase our capacity to advance an economy that allows people to be the authors of their own lives. First, we are expanding our leadership to include Harish I. Patel as Vice President, Build the Field. Second, we are bringing onboard longtime partner Economic Security for Illinois (ESIL) as a part of our expanded efforts in states nationwide.
Harish I. Patel joins ESP as Vice President, Build the Field
We’re so excited to bring Harish I. Patel on board as Vice President, Build the Field. “Building the field” has always been a central part of our success: We’ve invested over $25 million to bring people together; to nurture and fund a diversity of voices and strategies by seeding new initiatives and organizations; and to shape the landscape of activism in line with our larger vision for the economy. Harish will be central in taking our successful formula and scaling it further. He will take the lead on producing reports that define the field and creating events that galvanize key constituencies, keeping them connected, informed, and on the cutting edge–not just ahead of the curve, but shaping it.
Harish brings tremendous experience and vision to the position. He comes to ESP from Economic Security for Illinois, a leader in the fight for economic justice on the state front. He’ll bring organizing chops; leadership on racial and gender justice; a commitment to connecting bold, high-level economic ideas with real-world, on-the-ground perspectives; as well as experience running ESIL, a state organization that’s achieved real wins for Illinoisans–and which we are thrilled to say is formally becoming part of ESP.
Economic Security for Illinois becomes part of ESP
Economic Security for Illinois has been a leader in changing state law to benefit real families, securing over one billion dollars worth of direct cash programs and tax policies. We’ve worked with ESIL for years, and we know that their expertise at winning state-level battles will be a formidable asset to our organization.
States are central battlegrounds in the fight for economic justice. Throughout history, visionary local leaders have innovated in their states, demonstrating the impact of new policies that are then scalable nationwide. While federal policy typically establishes a floor for the entire country, states have the potential to champion bold and innovative tax credit expansions that can serve as national models. States can also respond nimbly to the economic needs of their citizens, stepping in to help people overlooked by federal laws.
It’s why we’ve been investing in organizing and bold policy development in states since 2018. We’ve changed policies in seven states, modernizing their tax codes to get cash, in the form of tax credits, to the families who need it most. These were major wins, and we are pushing for more as we expand our active campaigns to at least twelve states across the country with our Pilots to Policy State Fund, which is kicking off with an initial investment of $1 million for state-based grassroots and policy development organizations.
Bringing ESIL on board as an affiliate will improve our ability to do just that. ESIL’s innovative state campaign served as a model for the nation, successfully getting Illinois laws passed to get cash to communities left behind by federal legislation. ESIL won a permanent expansion of Illinois’s Earned Income Tax Credit, delivering direct payments to Illinois workers regardless of immigration status or age; and ESIL helped develop two of the largest guaranteed income pilot programs in the country, in Cook County and the City of Chicago. Their work has set the template for other states pushing to put money into the pockets of hard-working Americans.
By combining ESIL’s expertise and perspective with ESP’s organizational depth and strength, we can invest in Illinois as a state leading the fight, and connect their vision and energy to other leaders aiming to deliver in their states. We can’t wait to see what we’re going to accomplish together in the fight for an economy that works for all people.
For more on Economic Security Project’s growing team and the exciting work ahead, check out our recent announcement of the addition of Dr. Felicia Wong and Dr. Aisha Nyandoro to our Board of Directors.