The Economic Development Administration (EDA) recognizes the need for more resources to improve the representation of underserved populations and communities in local economic development. Therefore, over the past year we have made “equity” our top investment priority.
Today, the Networks program announced it has awarded a $5.5 million grant to the New Growth Innovation Network (NGIN) to design and launch a new initiative, Equity Impact Investments. Founded in 2018, NGIN is a non-profit knowledge, insight and innovation hub that empowers economic development practitioners to drive inclusive economic growth and close structural opportunity gaps. NGIN works with two organizations in program development and implementation – the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the International Economic Development Council.
Equity Impact Investments will deliver a transformative, three-year capacity-building program to 120 organizations working on the frontlines of equitable development in the United States. This initiative is funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and is part of EDA’s commitment to ensure consistent and systematic, fair, equitable and impartial treatment for all individuals, including those belonging to underserved communities.
Equity Impact Investments will focus on the development and delivery of training and toolkits that spread knowledge of best practice in economic development serving under-represented communities. These resources will initially be made available to 60 eligible community-based organizations and 60 eligible economic development organizations serving underrepresented populations, with final program resources eventually being made available to all EDA grantees. Additionally, a series of 24 geographically distributed, in-person workshops provide technical support and forge fundraising coalitions and cross-organizational connectivity.
“This is a sustainable partnership with EDA and embodies justice in action. When underserved populations and communities are included as assets in regional economic plans, they make a significant contribution to job creation, business growth and supply chain expansion, thereby expanding the overall size of the regional economy. Equity Impact Investments is an integral part of EDA’s strategic vision and we are honored to lead this effort with our local community partners,” said M. Yasmina McCarty, CEO and President of NGIN.
Equity is one of EDA’s seven investment priorities. While all EDA grant applications are evaluated with equity in mind, the Office has also launched several dedicated programs to advance best practices for equitable economic development and provide targeted support to underrepresented communities. In addition to Equity Impact Investments, EDA will soon announce an Equity Research Grant and in 2021 launch the Indigenous Communities program, a $100 million investment to support Indigenous communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.