People Pathway: Expanding Access to Opportunity


From childhood, most of us dream about what we want to be when we grow up, and about where we want to live. We hope that we will have the resources and supports we need to live a good life, feel safe, and provide for our families.

These are fundamental aspirations that we all share. But as the economy and population has grown in the Bay Area, not everyone has benefitted from the financial gains, job growth, and development, and few have realized their childhood dreams. In fact, many haven’t benefitted at all, and some are worse off.

Income inequality between low- and high-wage workers continues to increase, with wages growing for top earners and shrinking at the bottom. And while people of color are leading the population growth and are now in the majority in the Bay Area, they are more likely to be in poverty and among the working poor, face higher levels of unemployment and earn significantly less than their white counterparts. Additionally, some workers face even higher barriers to a good job, including Black workers, formerly incarcerated people, and immigrants.

As the nature of work changes, our schools no longer prepare youth for good jobs in this new economy. However, it is not just the core of what is taught in schools that often leaves youth of color unprepared for the future or locked out of the job market.  Bias and racism that is built into the climate and culture of many schools leads to low expectations for students of color as well as harsh and unfair discipline that leads to suspension, expulsion, arrest, or deportation of students of color.  Youth that do not complete high school are far more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.

In addition to this, education and other opportunities are chronically underfunded in our public budgeting processes. From the national and state levels to our local cities and counties, more is spent on policing and incarceration than on supportive services, thus leading to the rallying cry of “Schools Not Jails” and “Books Not Bars”. With these outsized costs, not enough is left to invest in supportive and beneficial services for communities.

The Expanding Access to Opportunity, or the People, pathway seeks to advance economic security of low-income people of color in the Bay Area. In the upcoming 2018 Equity Grants Open Cycle, we will focus on the following funding priorities:

  • Work: Fair access to jobs, good working conditions, family-sustaining wages, and benefits
  • Education: Creating a positive school climate
  • Criminal Justice: Reinvestment of funds from the criminal justice system into needed community services

For details about the goals, strategies, and funding priorities of the Power pathway, including priority neighborhoods, please visit the 2018 Equity Grants Open Cycle funding priorities page.

To learn more about additional programs that are expanding access to opportunity, please visit Bay Area Workforce Funders Collaborative or the Great Communities Collaborative.

Grants Awarded

Review past equity grants for the People pathway.