Institutional Partners

Expanding the Urban Poverty and Business Initiative

Funder: Coca-Cola Foundation

The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded $150,000 to the McKenna Center's Urban Poverty Business Initiative (UPBI). The grant will help expand the UPBI network, and offer financial grants to up-and-coming entrepreneurs from adverse backgrounds. Since its inception in 1984, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants to support sustainable community initiatives around the world. The Urban Poverty and Entrepreneurship Program is a partnership among universities and nonprofits in fourteen cities working to empower those in disadvantaged circumstances through entrepreneurship. 

Research on Advancing Economic Mobility and Equity in the U.S. Labor Market

Funder: WorkRise

WorkRise, a research-to-action network on jobs, workers, and mobility hosted by the Urban Institute, has awarded $2.4 million in research grants to inform and drive action toward strengthening economic security and mobility for workers earning low-wages in the U.S. labor market, with an emphasis on addressing equity gaps affecting Black workers and other workers of color, immigrants, and women. 

The awards fund research across a wide range of topics, institutions, methods, and academic disciplines. The 22 projects to receive awards will explore several dimensions and pathways for workers to achieve greater economic security and mobility as well as barriers and disparities that lead to inequitable labor market outcomes. Projects will examine the role played by state and local policies and programs; employer practices around diversity, equity, and inclusion; worker power and representation; apprenticeships and workforce training; entrepreneurship; and other topics that shape workers’ labor market experiences. 

Fund given to the McKenna Center will be used to research the following question: Do Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship Represent Viable Pathways out of Poverty? The team researching this question will be composed of Michael Morris, Professor of the Practice, Keough School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame; and Reginald Tucker, Assistant Professor, Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute, Louisiana State University

Impact Evaluation of Work-travel Transport Subsidy Program

Funder: Bloomberg Philanthropies

The City of South Bend has launched Commuters Trust, a program that provides reliable and affordable travel options to city employees to reach their workplaces. The McKenna Center and the Pulte Institute for Global Development, part of the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs, partnered with the city to conduct an impact evaluation of the program. The goals of the study were to test the feasibility of the program as an employer-funded program, by measuring impact on key outcomes of interest to employer partners and to evaluate the overall impact on program participants and the broader community. This process involved measuring outcomes that included changes in income, perceived stress, job performance, and employment access/retention. The outcomes of the evaluation will be used by the city to build further commitment for the program and solicit ongoing investment to promote the program’s long-term financial sustainability. Other cities and entities will benefit from understanding the outcomes of South Bend’s program, should they choose to pursue similar initiatives in the future.

South Bend Economy Database

Funder: Citi Foundation

The University of Notre Dame is working with the City of South Bend to build an easily accessible data platform, planning tools, and dashboard to guide the city's leaders in following key indicators of economic growth and wellbeing. In close collaboration with city leaders, McKenna Center researchers are identifying key metrics of economic growth and essential social and economic investments. The McKenna Center team has built a regional database of critical economic and social planning metrics for the South Bend and Mishawaka region that can be easily updated on a routine basis. These tools and their associated metrics will enable City of South Bend planners to monitor key trends over time and anticipate the future investment needs of their city as they plan for more inclusive growth.