In the Media

INSIDE PHILANTHROPY: A Funding Intermediary Goes to Bat for Government-Run Options in Local Economies

02. 29. 2024

“ESP often supports local-level projects and policy research to galvanize new economic models that speak to Americans’ kitchen-table concerns.”

Read the full article at Inside Philanthropy.

“Pursuing what it calls “ideas advocacy,” ESP often supports local-level projects and policy research to galvanize, at relatively low cost, new economic models that speak to Americans’ kitchen-table concerns. The advantage of this approach is that whether or not it leads to broader policy shifts — always a much heavier lift — it has some undeniable local impact and sparks conversation, including among other funders.”

“It is not a new or revolutionary concept,” said Taylor Jo Isenberg, executive director of the Economic Security Project. “The argument is that postal services, libraries and public K-12 education are all examples of where we have deployed public options in the past, in a deep American tradition, to ensure economic mobility for all.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to support [ESP’s] work when we are seeing a renewed interest nationally in public options for all of the things we need to live a good life. This fund represents an essential part of our effort to build a more equitable society and just economy,” said Carmen Rojas, president and CEO of the Marguerite Casey Foundation.

“We believe that some of the things we need to thrive that are currently controlled by the few would be better managed democratically,” said Josh Wallack, program officer for Ford’s civic engagement and government team. “For example, we have seen examples across the country of communities running their early childhood systems successfully — saving families money and helping their children thrive. We want to explore the question of what else we might take on as communities to manage together.”

“The good news here is that unlike guaranteed income, public options in the local economy aren’t actually anything particularly newfangled, as ESP has emphasized. And unlike battling corporate monopoly, which must rely on federal action, public options can be implemented locally — just like guaranteed income pilots. With those structural factors putting wind in its sails, ESP is also leaning into storytelling and narrative change with this initial funding, hoping the appeal of local public options can counteract prevailing cynicism toward government writ large.”