Dayton project funded by charities of billionaires Bloomberg, Gates, Ballmer

Dayton is one of 10 U.S. cities to be selected for a national initiative aimed at improving economic mobility funded by the charities of some of the wealthiest people in the nation.

The philanthropies of Bill and Melinda Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Steve Ballmer have provided $12 million to help Dayton and nine other cities develop, pilot and measure the impacts of specific intervention programs intended to help people climb the economic ladder.

Dayton’s project seeks to create parental engagement with high-quality early childhood education using innovative outreach methods, according to an official announcement released today. Dayton’s amount was not immediately available.

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“Dayton was selected because of its commitment to economic opportunity for its residents,” said Andrea Coleman, senior program officer at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “This new initiative will support Dayton in testing and measuring an intervention focused on increasing parental engagement in early education programs, which will help Dayton and others understand how to best ensure critical early support for their youngest residents.”

In the next year and a half, 10 cities in eight states will test a variety of intervention projects and track the results to see if they lead to expanded economic opportunities, officials said.

The new initiative, which was first unveiled last fall, is in response to declining economic mobility and growing income inequality.

“These pioneer cities will not only expand opportunity for their own residents, they will provide valuable insights to communities across the country,” said Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Dayton’s project will focus on parental engagement.

Cincinnati will engage employers to connect low-income workers with services that can help them professionally.

Detroit, Mich., will connect low-income residents in affordable housing to programs and services intended to increase economic opportunities and promote housing stability.

Other cities chosen for the program include Albuquerque, N.M.; Lansing, Mich.; New Orleans, La.; Newark, N.J.; Racine, Wis.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Tulsa, Okla.

The cities also will work with advisers and other experts.

Bill Gates is the second richest man in the United States and the world, with an estimated net worth of $96.5 billion, according to Forbes.

Bloomberg is the sixth richest man in the nation ($55.5 billion net worth), and Ballmer ranks 14th ($41.2 billion).

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