I recently attended a conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank Board of Governors and the community development offices of all 12 Federal Reserve Banks. The theme was “The Economic Future of Kids and Communities.”
In her opening remarks, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen noted that children who grow up in poverty are more likely to experience financial insecurity as adults.
“This conference is about understanding what kinds of environments and resources can best help children meet with economic success after they reach adulthood … I hope you know that you have a partner in the Federal Reserve. In the ways we can, with the different tools we each have, our aim is the same: to make the economy work for the benefit of all Americans,” Ms. Yellen said.
It struck me that the nation’s central bank charged with setting the monetary policies that drive our economy would focus on children. While we all want kids to thrive, the Fed makes the case that it’s not only a social contract but an economic imperative. When generational cycles of poverty are not broken, the entire community suffers. Resources that could be used to foster growth are instead channeled to fix problems.
Preparing people to successfully participate in our economy is a long-term investment that starts before birth. We call it a cradle to career approach, and the research presented throughout the conference supports that it works. When we think about the public investments that will provide the best return, former Federal Reserve analyst and fellow Minnesotan Art Rolnick says that we need to bet on kids that might otherwise be left behind. In economic terms, our most vulnerable children are a blue-chip investment!
We could not agree more and Southwest Initiative Foundation is focusing its resources – both time and financial – to the work we are calling Grow Our Own.
We hope you will join us!
Diana Anderson serves on the Ninth District Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.