When we launched the Economic Security Project within days of the 2016 Presidential Election, we could not have imagined the seismic shifts that would rock our democracy and economy in the years ahead. The pandemic and its economic fallout put on full display how our economy – by design – was concentrating power and wealth into the hands of a few and failing to deliver for millions of Americans.
Yet during one of our country’s hardest moments, a renewed movement committed to making a different set of choices emerged. Academics, practitioners, organizers, elected officials, and culture makers are rallying behind economic ideas that were once considered too radical or too ambitious in America. These economic ideas represent an alternative vision of what our economy could look like: a world where families can pay the heating bills and make the rent; where consumers have choices, and small businesses have a fighting chance; where we can all not just survive, but thrive with dignity.
Economic Security Project is at the forefront of this movement with our two campaigns: to put cash into people’s pockets by winning a guaranteed income; and to keep corporations out of them by checking monopoly power. The influence of these campaigns is evident in the 100 guaranteed income pilots in 30 states, with 38,000 people across the country receiving cash payments each month, no strings attached. It’s visible in the support for the David-versus-Goliath fight for the first piece of legislation with a fighting chance to constrain undue corporate power in over 40 years. And it’s embodied in leaders like Mayor Michael Tubbs and Priti Krishtel, who fought for their values and took risky positions on behalf of bold ideas, and are now leading movements.
We’re proud of the leadership we’ve provided and the contributions we’ve made to bring us to this moment, and to take us into the next exciting phase.
From the Margins of the Debate, to Achieving Common Sense Solutions
In our advocacy for transformative ideas that rebalance economic power from the few to the many, we’ve provoked the existing conventional wisdom to shift what’s considered possible, legitimized the ideas by supporting cutting edge research and elevating champions, and won concrete policy victories for communities.
We’ve convened thousands in briefings, workshops, and marquee events to strategize and set the agenda for a more just political economy. We passed policies in over seven states to modernize the tax code, won over $1 trillion in checks for families in response to the pandemic, and spearheaded the federal fight for a guaranteed income for kids in the form of the expanded Child Tax Credit. These cash-based policies reduced poverty in the middle of a recession, in the words of one observer, “defying gravity”.
And we’ve built the field by investing over $25 million directly into groundbreaking research; pilots and task forces; coalitions and campaigns; new initiatives and organizations; and trend-setting narrative and cultural interventions to advance racial and economic justice and reset the conversation. As a result, ideas that were once considered impossible are now at the center of a vision for an economy where people are the authors of their own lives.
We’ve worked alongside thousands across the country exercising political muscle, moral imagination, and on-the-ground experimentation. It’ll take this and so much more in the years ahead; we are in a broader fight for a multiracial democracy and an economy that works for all. Our task is to deliver.
That’s why, as we approach six years since Chris Hughes, Natalie Foster, and Dorian Warren first launched the Economic Security Project, we’re expanding our team and building for the future.
Welcoming Dr. Felicia Wong and Dr. Aisha Nyandoro
We’re excited to announce that Dr. Felicia Wong, CEO and President of the Roosevelt Institute, and Dr. Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Springboard to Opportunities and Founder of Magnolia Mother’s Trust, are joining Dorian Warren, Chris Hughes, and Natalie Foster as founding members of our inaugural Board of Directors.
Felicia leads the Roosevelt Institute in its pursuit of a high-care, low-carbon economy that works for all; and Aisha created the landmark guaranteed income pilot project Magnolia Mother’s Trust, and directs Springboard for Opportunities, serving residents of affordable housing. Felicia and Aisha bring not just phenomenal track records, but deeply informed visions for ways to make the economy work for all people; and their presence both deepens and expands the expertise guiding the organization as we enter the next phase.
They’ll work alongside Natalie Foster, serving as President; myself, as Executive Director; and our extraordinary and growing team of academics, campaigners, practitioners, and culture-makers to help ESP build on its success and win new victories in the fight to build economic power for all Americans.
Changing Who the Economy Works For
Now is the time to harness the headwind behind our issues, and ensure the gains made for families become broader, better, and more lasting.
We believe significant gains for both a guaranteed income and anti-monopoly action are on the horizon. Looking ahead, we’ll continue the work we’ve been doing, and also expand our state and federal campaigns; provide technical assistance to more partners and policymakers; build even broader public support; and mobilize around new political opportunities as they arise. We’ll pick our ideas–or fights–based on where strategic mobilization of people and resources could turn emerging trends into concrete policies that meaningfully improve lives. We’ll keep our ear to the ground, to make sure we’re not only staying ahead of the curve, but actively pushing it.
Most importantly, we’re more committed than ever to work alongside you. Because taking an idea from the margins to the mainstream requires a diversity of champions, organizations, and experts working together across fields to create change.
That’s why we’re excited to roll out our new brand and website to make it easier to engage with the breadth and depth of our issues and the partners we are proud to work alongside. It’ll provide a clearer portal to discover ideas, actions, and ways to create change.
We, together, are shifting the thinking around how and for whom the economy should work. We’re excited for the opportunity – and responsibility – to expand our contributions to our movement. Together, we can build an America where everyone has the freedom and stability required to thrive.