Search for Solutions: Family Economic Mobility


Family Economic Mobility

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Why do we need solutions that address family economic stability and wealth-building?

One in four families in Metro Denver doesn’t have enough income to cover essential costs of living.

In fact, a family of four needs more than $70,000 to make ends meet. That’s more than the area median income. At Gary, we believe all families should have the resources they need to raise thriving children. For this reason, we are in search of solutions that create opportunities for families to:

1. Increase income

2. Decrease expenses — particularly those related to housing, childcare and debt

3. Own assets that grow in value over time (including but not limited to home ownership)

What kinds of solutions are we looking for?

Perhaps you have an insight on just one part of this question, or you’ve got a way to address several aspects at once. Will you share your best ideas with us?

Whether you’re a worker, parent, business leader, policy-maker, or non-profit organization, there’s shared wisdom in our community. We need your voice, and your expertise. Your solution doesn’t need to be perfect to be valuable — we can help you bring it to life.

Antonio Soto


Antonio went to the State of Colorado hoping for a grant to help his community recover from the pandemic. He was instead hired to lead Colorado’s Minority Business Office, and now has a chance to influence change. Sourcing community ideas, creating access to capital and generating small business resources in places like his Westwood neighborhood are all part of Antonio’s solution to increasing family income.

Jess Ervin-Adkins

Working Mom

Jess became a mom at a young age. Forced to navigate complicated public aid programs like the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, Jess found a host of childcare solutions to help reduce her expenses. She continues to share her lived experiences and knowledge with her North Denver community, aiming to share resources and overcome taboos often associated with conversations about money.

TeRay Esquibel

Non-Profit Founder & CEO

Even with a bachelors degree in business, TeRay was struggling financially in his mid-20s. When he found a stable job, he got tired of “just getting by” and decided to make an investment in Denver Public Schools alumni. Through Ednium: The Alumni Collective, he’s now working with and growing his coalition to champion K-12 financial literacy and wealth-building curriculum as tools of systemic change.

Below are more example solutions to increase income, decrease expenses, and grow wealth:
INCREASE INCOME (Click for sample solutions)
  • Perhaps you’re the leader of a job training program partnering with employers to hire skills-based jobs that can support a family.
  • Perhaps you’re a policy-maker wanting to propose a child allowance in the tax code.
  • Perhaps you’re a restaurant group trying to do away with tipping to instead offer higher wages to everyone. 
DECREASE EXPENSES (Click for sample solutions)
  • Perhaps you’re an employer who cannot afford pay raises, but could instead re-finance employee debt to alleviate their monthly expenses.
  • Perhaps you’re a non-profit that helps property owners develop affordable units on an unused portion of their lot.
  • Perhaps you’re a job recruiter trying to guarantee quality childcare to successful candidates.
OWN ASSETS THAT GROW IN VALUE OVER TIME (Click for sample solutions)
  • Perhaps you’re a landlord looking for ways to offer tenant-equity to your longest-standing renters.
  • Perhaps you’re a retiring small business owner exploring the chance to sell your company to your employees.
  • Perhaps you have an idea that would increase long-term investing in communities of color.

As we look for opportunities to combine solutions that advance family economic stability and wealth-building, gathering the best ideas from across the country and here in Colorado is just the first step. We’ll then be taking proposed solutions to those most impacted by the challenges of financial stability and access to wealth-building, to build the path forward together.

What is the research telling us?

We must seek non-profit, for-profit, venture capital and policy solutions to this problem.

Based on our research and conversations with the community, we believe it’s vital to address the root causes of income and wealth inequities in order to shift the distribution of resources in favor of working families.

The research has shown…And our communities are telling us…
Metro Denver expenses have grown 4x faster than median wages in the last 20 years.Even if post-pandemic wages increase, single parents, hourly workers and even some double-income families have few paths to positive cashflow without government assistance.
80% of job losses in 2020 occurred in the lowest quartile of wage earners.As we recover from the pandemic, many companies and their employees are emerging strong. But hourly works, many of whom are frontline heroes, have been most destabilized.
Most struggling families earn between $35,000 and $70,000 a year.Working, middle-income families are going without the basics to make ends meet.
White families own 10x more net median wealth than families of color — and Black families own fewer assets today than 3 decades ago.Even with college degrees, families of color disproportionately owe more than they own. This has a crippling, cascading impact on future generations.

What is a Search for Solutions (SFS) ?

At Gary Community Ventures, we’re not just grant makers; we’re problem-solvers.

Finding solutions that grow family economic stability and wealth is vital to our mission, and there’s no way we succeed without recommended solutions from you. That’s why we’ve designed a new process aiming to source innovative, community-wide solutions that increase access to opportunity for all Colorado kids and families. We’re calling it a Search for Solutions (SFS) 

We’re actively searching the nation for great ideas from workers, families, business and organizational leaders, entrepreneurs, policymakers and others. 

There are three ways we could work together to bring solutions to our communities:

We can help GROW promising ideas or solutions that already exist (Click for example)

Example: Without a housing subsidy, no combination of public benefits is enough to financially stabilize a family and create positive cashflow. Perhaps your Thornton non-profit is able to provide assistance that helps families navigate their finances and public benefits, and now wants to add a housing solution. Gary Community Ventures could help you with access to networks, real-estate professionals, and funding streams that had previously been unavailable.

We might BUILD, with you, ideas or solutions that don’t yet exist (Click for example)

Example: In Colorado, student debt is up 600% since 2000, comprising a disproportionate share of a family’s monthly expenses. Perhaps you’ve an idea about a financing model that could alleviate debt-risk for students as they pursue higher-paying jobs. Our team at Gary Community Ventures could provide the infrastructure and team needed to realize your vision.

We might work together to CHANGE the policy landscape to make more solutions possible (Click for example)

Example: For hourly workers, a wage increase can be devastating. Most public benefit programs determine eligibility based on very low income thresholds, so when a worker receives a $1 or $2 per hour raise, they can loose thousands of dollars in access to healthcare and affordable housing for their children. Perhaps you have a policy proposal to change this reality, and our team at Gary Community Ventures helps you mount a campaign to get it on the ballot.

How can you submit a solution, and what happens next?

Thanks for your interest. Our Search for Solutions aiming to improve family economic mobility has closed.

But you can still reach out to our team if you have questions. Click here to contact us.

We believe reimagining and reshaping what’s possible for kids and families requires listening, innovation, collaboration and resources — not necessarily funding. So if you completed a submission, please know a member of our team will reach out to discuss how we might partner to co-create a transformative solution together.

Below are key dates in this SFS process.

  • Search for Solutions window opens: Sept. 9
  • Search for Solutions window closes: Oct. 5
  • Emerging themes announced: Oct. 19
  • Build, Grow, Change decision announcement: Nov. 10

Discover New Possibilities

Together, we will create the change our community wants to see. Whether you want to discover more about our ventures, or connect with a member of our team, we want to hear from you.