Alexandra Valdez named Director of Engagement for Economic Mobility Lab
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the appointment of Alexandra Valdez as director of engagement for the City's Economic Mobility Lab. The Lab is a team of social entrepreneurs centrally located in the Mayor's Office of Policy that researches and tests ideas with the potential to dramatically increase upward economic mobility for low- and moderate-income Bostonians. The Lab launched in late 2017 as a flagship program of the City's Resilience Strategy with support from the Rockefeller Foundation and 100 Resilient Cities.
"I'm proud to welcome Alex to the Mayor's Office of Policy," said Mayor Walsh. "She did incredible work as a neighborhood liaison for Jamaica Plain and the Latino community, and I look forward to seeing her excel in her new role and continue to make sure families can succeed in Boston.""I'm excited to join the Economic Mobility Lab and the rest of the policy team," said Alexandra Valdez. "As an immigrant who came to Boston as a kid, I'm beyond grateful for this opportunity and look forward to continuing the Mayor's agenda in creating a welcoming, strong, and inclusive city."
Valdez served as the Mayor's neighborhood liaison for Jamaica Plain and the Latino community in the Office of Neighborhood Services since 2016. She will now join Director Jason Ewas at the Economic Mobility Lab where she will lead projects that advance the Lab's work on child care, Boston Saves, and youth programs, and ensure that resident perspective is at the core of everything the Lab does.
The Lab aims to ensure City government supports residents during the times that matter most, organizing action around key moments in people's lives such as:
- Early childhood and child care as the foundation of the economic ladder
- A first job as a critical step to accessing opportunities
- The transition to college and career as a stepping stone to increased lifetime earnings, and
- Preparing for unexpected expenses that can set families' finances back for months or years.
The Economic Mobility Lab is working on a series of projects on child care with the Mayor's Office of Women's Advancement. They recently developed a survey related to child care in the City's anonymous census, which launched in February 2019. The optional survey aims to better understand how individuals and households manage child care and to provide information on the best ways for the City to support parents and young children. Boston is the first city in the country to document local child care needs and preferences through the census.
One of the goals of the Economic Mobility Lab is to coordinate a pipeline of programs that prepares students and their families for income growth. Partnering with Boston Saves, the City's children's savings account program, the Lab aims to help families build their financial capabilities and save for their children's post-secondary education and training.
Partnering with the Office of Financial Empowerment, the Economic Mobility Lab also aims to develop and expand tools that help families. For example, this work includes conducting research for and developing programs with Boston Builds Credit, an initiative that aims to raise the credit scores of Bostonians by expanding what works and trying new projects that raise people's credit scores.
While the Economic Mobility Lab is focused on municipal government, it also advocates for key policy changes at all levels of government. Advancing the work of the Lab, Mayor Walsh submitted his legislative agenda to the Massachusetts Legislature in January 2019, demonstrating the role government can play in creating economic opportunity.
The following three bills aim to eliminate policies and rules that create barriers for families trying to get on their feet. They also expand successful policies that provide a financial boost for families. The economic mobility bills in the Mayor's legislative package, advanced by the Lab and departments throughout the City, include:An Act to Lift the Cap on Kids
This bill would repeal a policy that denies critical resources to children conceived while, or soon after, a family is receiving benefits. Massachusetts is one of only 17 states that have a Cap on Kids or similar policy.An Act to Promote Asset Building for Low-Income Residents
This bill would remove the cap on assets for families receiving temporary cash assistance. The current policy disincentivizes families to accumulate even moderate savings and makes it more difficult for them to access resources. Eight other states have enacted similar changes with positive results, spurring upward economic mobility for residents.An Act Improving the Earned Income Credit for Working Families
This seeks to raise the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 50% to return money directly to low- and moderate-income working families. The EITC is almost universally seen as a great program and it should be increased and marketed so that working families know they are eligible.About 100RC, Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation
100 Resilient Cities - Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit www.100ResilientCities.org.