"Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary. Martin Luther King, Jr."
Taking the lead from Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of his birthday, I began to analyze the economic inequity in Delaware from an analytical lens. The average income of the top 1% in Delaware is $869,461 and the average income of the remaining 99% is $51,049 a 94% difference. CEO pay has increased from about 20 times the typical worker’s pay to 271 times greater, from 1965 to 2016, according to 2017 a study by the Economic Policy Institute. One way this inequity is measured is a Gini Coefficient (Gini coefficient is a measure of inequality of incomes (or sometimes wealth) across individuals), Delaware is 14th in the country (1 being least disparity) and the US is at it highest level since the 1967 census and the largest in the western civilized countries.
How does economic inequality affect communities? The implication is that high levels of inequality create a permanent underclass forced to compete, sometimes violently, either with itself or with other classes for scarce resources. Trying to get their piece of the pie, which is driven by money. The cities of Dover, Newark and Wilmington have areas that have been persistent poverty tracts. A child whose parents earn less than $25,000 a year have a 6% change of earning over $99,000; Parents earning $25,000 to $48,000 it more than doubles to 14%. You can see the trend, but how to we begin to change this?
Philanthropy can not do it alone. Philanthropy and the non profit sector only accounts for 5% of the GDP, it must work with government, business, and community structures. Here are a few ways Philanthropy can increase their longitudinal impact to balance the scale. Philanthropies understanding of the labor market from pay rates to viable occupations that can effectively and efficiently move income levels for individuals. Philanthropies learning how fiscal policy can be inconsistent not just in dollars, but scope and priorities. Taking stock in Wall street, not just from their internal portfolios but in the areas it affects access to funds for lower wage populations.
Philanthropy, now more than ever is moving in new directions to understand and to create long lasting sustainable change to the economic injustice.