Economic Mobility

Working Up: A Convergence Dialogue for Action to Increase Economic Mobility

The Challenge
There is striking consensus across the ideological spectrum that economic mobility in America is not what it should be. The promise of equal opportunity for anyone who is willing to work for it feels out of reach for too many hard-working Americans. While there is a growing consensus that this presents significant challenges for our country, people are articulating differing analyses of the problem and proposing different solutions. A failure to communicate and connect proponents of these varied approaches fuels partisan gridlock in Congress, stifles the creation of new solutions, and limits chances for collaboration leading to impact.

The Convergence Process
In response to this challenge, Convergence created Working Up: A Dialogue for Action to Increase Economic Mobility to bring people together to catalyze meaningful policy, programmatic, and private sector changes to help more people experience upward economic mobility through work. The group was tasked with identifying concrete solutions to drive impact in the short-term as well finding ideas new approaches in response to the changing nature of work.

Thirty influential leaders from across sectors including employers, worker advocates, workforce development experts, higher education leaders, faith leaders, dynamic community practitioners, and key left-and right-leaning voices began the dialogue in summer 2016. During 2017, through the Convergence dialogue-leading-to-action-process, the group built trust, developed a common understanding of the issues, and began to craft a shared action agenda. They engaged thought partners from a diverse range of backgrounds as advisors to the project and met with low-income Americans to better understand the challenges they face.

View our stakeholders.

Areas of Focus
The group identified three principle areas of focus:

  • Work Opportunity and Workforce Development
    Areas of inquiry include: post-secondary and career readiness; career access; and career success & resiliency.
  • Creating and Enhancing Quality Work
    Areas of inquiry include: exploring conditions of work that enhance mobility, such as child care, paid leave, and scheduling practices with responsibility for these conditions shared across workers, employers, intermediaries, government, and others.
  • Building and Maintaining Financial Security
    Areas of inquiry include: savings & debt reduction; financial skills; affordability of education & training; reduction of income volatility

Finding Consensus and Taking Action
We believe that the consensus action agenda emerging from this process will be able to garner support from a wide range of actors and lead to meaningful policy, programmatic, and private sector changes to address one of the most significant issues of our time. The Working Up Dialogue plans to issue its final recommendations early in 2018.

For more information about this project, please contact Russell Krumnow at or Talia Harris at

This project is made possible thanks to primary support from the Ford, Annie E. Casey, JPB, W.K. Kellogg Foundations and additional support from the Collegiate Church, Hellman, and Arthur M. Blank Family Foundations.