The Roosevelt Network has a new focus. A collective decision-making process spanning 2013-14 has yielded a network-wide commitment to tackle the rise of economic and political inequality.

While inequality is widely acknowledged as one of the most pressing issues confronting our country, we’ve seen that many of the proposed solutions are too large in scope for an individual or even a group to grapple with. Since our federal system as it is currently constructed is not responsive nor fine-tuned enough to effectively promote local economic development or democratic access, we’re focused on how to make those things happen intelligently and with input from the people who will be directly affected by them. We believe that a local plan can – and must – be stronger and more sustainable than what we have the chance to create through the U.S. Congress of 2014. To tackle the sweeping issue of economic inequality, to maximize the potential of our complex and vibrant network, and to build on 10 years of success in implementing impactful policy ideas, we’ve developed the Rethinking Communities initiative.

The Rethinking Communities Initiative is a Roosevelt Network wide effort to work with universities and their communities to identify and advance solutions that promote broadly shared economic progress. Students research and diagnose the local drivers of inequality and build strategies and coalitions to enact policies that contribute to shared growth and prosperity. We aim to meaningfully contribute to a movement dedicated to building an economy that works for everyone.

These projects have a few things in common: clear connections to a source of economic inequality, clear methods for students to engage, and clear policy ramifications if and when small-scale projects have proven success in reducing economic inequality in the AnchorInstitutions’ communities.