The Rockefeller Foundation has announced the launch of the Opportunity Collective (ROC), an effort to catalyze public and private sector investment in ten communities and promote inclusion and growth during the post-pandemic recovery and over the longer term.
As part of the foundation’s $65 million effort to help low-wage workers and their families secure a more prosperous future, the foundation will commit an initial $10 million to a collective of government, business, faith-based, and nonprofit partners in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Oakland, El Paso, Miami-Dade County, Louisville, Newark, and Norfolk, Virginia. Those funds, in turn, will be invested in organizations, projects, and programs focused on protecting low-wage workers and small businesses operated by women, African-American, and Latinx owners from displacement and eliminating barriers to their ability to access capital and credit.
According to the foundation, an estimated 26.5 million adults in the United States are not in the formal credit economy, while federal data reveals that 15 percent of African Americans and Hispanic Americans are credit “invisible,” compared with just 8 percent of White and Asian Americans. Negative or nonexistent credit information, cash constraints, and lack of access to affordable housing are all factors that limit low-income individuals’ ability to advance economically. To help expand access to capital and credit for such individuals, ROC will focus on efforts to build equity for people of color and women-led businesses, credit-building tools for small businesses, and affordable borrowing for entrepreneurs.
“The Rockefeller Foundation Opportunity Collective is an essential place-based approach to create economic equity for low-wage workers through structural and systemic change in ten places across the United States,” said Otis Rolley III, senior vice president for the foundation’s U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative. “The disproportionate economic toll on communities of color has historically stymied access to opportunity and been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s going to take a collective effort by local government and nonprofits and businesses to meet the moment and undo the racist economic inequities that have plagued these communities for decades.”