September 8, 2020

Advancing Mobility from Poverty: Housing & Education Partnerships

Children on a playground

By: Colin Groth, Anne Griffith, and Alexa Rosenberg

As the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network focuses increasingly on systems transformation to advance racial and ethnic equity, housing has been identified by early Proof Point communities as a key adjacent sector needed to accelerate that work.

As early as 2018, we heard from network members that building housing partnerships was becoming a priority, particularly for partnerships focused on closing racial disparity gaps in cradle-to-career outcomes. Whereas aggregate educational outcomes can be improved through traditional education interventions alone, there is growing recognition amongst the Network that closing racial disparity gaps in those outcomes requires partnership with adjacent sectors. From that recognition came StriveTogether's partnership with Enterprise.

Over the last 18 months, we have built a national partnership centered on: 

  1. Offering targeted technical assistance to partners that answers their basic questions about housing, builds understanding of the housing landscapes in their communities, and helps launch new and expanded housing and education cross-sector collaborations for economic mobility;
  2. Sharing learnings and tools with the housing and education sectors; and 
  3. Translating the learnings into policy development and advocacy to effectuate durable systemic change for which the current moment presents a unique opportunity.   

Now more than ever, place-based partnerships need support to secure the economic stability, resilience, and upward mobility of residents in the communities where they live and work. The coronavirus health and economic crisis, which is disproportionately impacting Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities, is highlighting both the critical importance of and the critical need for more stable, quality, and connected housing for kids and their families to thrive. Coordinated approaches to housing and education (among other sectors) to meet those needs is essential for advancing an equitable response to and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. 

We continue to learn about the long-standing impact of the housing system on educational and other life outcomes. A new brief by the Urban Institute summarizes evidence on this relationship and explores how housing and education systems reinforce inequity. In our respective fields, StriveTogether and Enterprise have been working to eliminate disparities to drive equitable outcomes.

The StriveTogether network has identified systems indicators that contribute significantly to the seven cradle-to-career outcomes. Similarly, Enterprise has identified five key housing outcomes that determine economic success, power and autonomy, and being valued in community – the three core principles that define upward mobility, according to the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty. We frame these housing outcomes as the “housing bundle” because they are interconnected and must work together for housing to act as a pathway to upward mobility: 

  • Housing stability
  • Housing quality
  • Housing affordability
  • Housing and neighborhood as a platform
  • Housing that builds assets & wealth

In each of the communities where Enterprise and StriveTogether are collaborating, we help partners align these twin perspectives to develop shared outcomes by identifying which housing outcomes are hindering students’ educational (and family economic) outcomes and implementing strategies to address those barriers through cross-sector partnership. 

Enterprise and StriveTogether have produced this toolkit, which provides concrete steps to launch new partnerships, scale up existing collaborations, and transform systems that produce or reinforce inequities.

Our longer-term vision is to identify replicable, scalable strategies and related field-building resources to support collaboration between the sectors, drive systems change and shift resources to improve mobility from poverty outcomes, particularly for Black, indigenous and Latinx community members. 

Join us in that work.

For support engaging your community in linking housing and education, contact Anne Griffith or Alexa Rosenberg at Enterprise Community Partners.  


Colin Groth is Executive Vice President of Strategy and Development at StriveTogether. Anne Griffith and Alexa Rosenberg co-direct Enterprise Community Partners’ economic mobility initiative. 

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