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Economic Mobility

Initiatives and demonstration pilots designed to test strategies that prevent the displacement of our lowest income neighbors, and advocating for policy change and public resources to scale up these strategies. All of our work is grounded in the 3-fold definition of mobility from poverty: increased income and assets, personal power over one’s life, and a sense of belonging to the community.

Can Arlington be both world class and inclusive?

Yes. But not if our lowest wage earners continue to be displaced.

Arlington’s vision statement says that we are a world class, caring, and inclusive community; and the County defines equity as all Arlingtonians having the resources to experience optimal well-being and realize their full potential. Arlington Community Foundation is grounded by the moral mandate of equity and inclusion. And there is an economic mandate as well.

The most recent poverty information for Arlington indicates that just over 24,000 people, or over 10,000 households in Arlington, make under 30% of the area median income (AMI), or about $45,600 for a family of four.

With the cost of living for such a household two to three times that amount, there are currently only 1,585 apartments in Arlington truly affordable to these 10,000 households, as demonstrated in this housing supply-demand mismatch graph.

These neighbors are a vital part of our diverse community fabric and our economic viability: they are childcare providers, hospital aides, office cleaners, construction, and food service employees. Yet these residents are being priced out of Arlington by market-driven losses in affordable housing and other pressures, including some of the highest childcare expenses in the country.

In response to these constant and ever-changing stressors, Arlington Community Foundation runs initiatives and demonstration pilots designed to test strategies to provide resources and opportunities for financial stability, personal power, and a sense of dignity and belonging to our lowest income neighbors, while advocating for policy change to scale up these strategies in meaningful and sustainable ways.

2023 living wages chart

Based on most recent available data (2023). For full job listings, “living wage” definitions, and data sources, click here.

Shared Prosperity Initiative

Three primary factors drive our lowest-income residents from the community: lack of deeply affordable housing, lack of deeply affordable child care, and limited pathways to living wage jobs.

All of these issues, separately and when taken together, represent the crushing pressures and impossible trade-offs that our very low-income neighbors face every day as they try to keep a foothold in Arlington.

Arlington is known for its thoughtful and holistic approach to planning and community engagement, as well as a commitment to preserving the diversity and rich social and cultural fabric of the community.

Arlington Community Foundation’s Shared Prosperity Initiative builds on this approach and brings together public and private leaders to continue pursuing bold solutions that encourage inclusive economic growth and stop the displacement of our lowest-income residents, specifically in the areas of deeply affordable housing, deeply affordable child care, and workforce development. We do this through a combination of policy analysis, advocacy, demonstration pilots, and striving to attract major resource investments in these areas.

Arlington’s Guarantee

A local guaranteed income pilot. A national movement.

Launched in partnership with Arlington County Department of Human Services, Arlington’s Guarantee is a guaranteed income pilot that equips 200 low-income families with monthly funds that can be used for whatever is needed most in real time– making ends meet, dealing with an emergency, paying off debt, pursuing education or employment goals, college savings for kids, or allowing parents more time with their children and less time away from home in a second job.

Just as important as income and assets are power and autonomy—people’s sense of control over the trajectory of their lives—and being valued in community—their sense of belonging and social capital. Guaranteed income touches each of these areas by bringing in extra income, allowing people choice over how to use it, and freeing up personal bandwidth to connect with others in the community.

The moral and economic mandate for guaranteed income, particularly for low income, vulnerable, and historically marginalized groups continues to be proven by pilot initiatives around the country.

Click here or the images below to meet Arlington’s Guarantee participants who have shared their story and experience in the pilot so far.

Arlington Safety Net Nonprofits
Bridges out of Poverty

A History of the Arlington Bridges Out of Poverty Work (2016-2023)

Streamlining Arlington’s public-private safety-net system for those who cycle in and out of crisis.

This impactful initiative began in 2016 when Arlington County Department of Human Services (DHS) identified the potential of the Bridges Out of Poverty (BOP) Framework to be more effective in serving households facing generational poverty and multiple challenges. DHS asked the Arlington Community Foundation (ACF) to convene the local safety net nonprofits into partnership to further explore implementing the framework in Arlington. Over the course of the next 7 years, hundreds of staff from DHS, ACF and Arlington nonprofits participated in the systems reform work and in pilot testing the system improvements designed to make our local safety net system more effective with fewer bureaucratic barriers.

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Barcroft Apartments
Concrete steps for ensuring long-term deep affordability for all Barcroft residents
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The new status report on affordable child care in Arlington
Re-energizing the work and efforts made so far
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Arlington’s Guarantee Anniversary Webinar
Video: A panel of local and national experts discuss the pilot so far and the future of the guaranteed income movement
What can
you do
to support economic mobility?

From financial support to spreading the word, there’s always a way to get involved.

open a fund
Stabilizing the most financially challenged segment of Arlington’s population
Community Impact
Visit our policy page, and share the resources with your local policy makers
Leave a legacy
Funds enable you to support your community in a way that’s highly impactful and rewarding
Professional advisors
Send an email to Anne Vor der Bruegge, Director of Grants and Initiatives.