In 2014, the nonprofit MDC, published the State of the South report, calling for the creation of an “Infrastructure of Opportunity” — a system of pathways that connects all young people, irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and geography, to educational credentials and rewarding work in order to help them move up the economic ladder. In order to inspire and equip communities to respond to the State of the South, MDC initiated the Network for Southern Economic Mobility (NSEM) in late 2016.

NSEM is a group of Southern communities—Athens, GA, Chattanooga, TN, Greenville, SC, and Jacksonville, FL—committed to increasing upward economic mobility for youth and young adults in the lowest income brackets. The Network is designed to help communities deepen, accelerate, and align strategic investments for systemic change that position youth and young adults for economic success.

The Network members examine how well the existing systems are working to support economic mobility for young people facing the most difficult barriers to advancement, analyze the policies, systems, and culture that impede or accelerate their progression, and adapt relevant systems to improve pathways.

The Greenville network strives to develop a targeted, cross-sector approach to solving this problem. To date, the Network has focused on building a diverse team, learning about the factors that impact economic mobility, network development, and connecting with and listening to members of the community.

Hollingsworth Funds’ Involvement

Hollingsworth is a founding investor in NSEM.  We provided an initial grant to MDC to support Greenville’s participation in the Network and we serve on the leadership team.  We now invest ongoing operating funds to support Network activities, including backbone management and coordination from local social impact consulting firm, Openfields. We feel strongly that the work of the Network can and will lead to changes in the leadership, systems, and culture of the Greenville community as it relates to helping all members of our community climb the economic ladder and achieve their fullest potential.