Examples

Life Stage
Upward Mobility Factors
Population Impacted
Severity & Scale of Problem

Pregnancy

How do we help people avoid unplanned pregnancies, births, and plan out the birth of children?
Low-Income Teenagers
45% of US pregnancies are unintended and teen birth rates are linearly related to parent income ranks.

Prenatal

How do we ensure that children are born without avoidable health and developmental issues?
Unhealthy Mothers
Mothers who are obese at the time of pregnancy have increased chance for several kinds of birth defects, incuding heart defects.

Baby

How do we maximize the chances that young children are developing appropriately in ways that increase their opportunities for upward mobility?
Low-Income Urban Children
Low-income children in urban areas are more frequently hospitalized for severe asthma than children from higher income households.

Toddler

How do we improve the early language environment for low-income children?
Low-Income Children
Children from low-income families hear 30 million fewer words than children from higher income families by the time they are four.

Preschool

How do we ensure children are eating nutritional and healthy meals?
Homeless Youth
45% of homeless youth are overweight or at risk of being overweight.

Elementary

How do we ensure that students can attend and learn in high quality environments that provide them with the skills needed to achieve upward mobility?
Children from Low-Income Households
The test score gaps between low-income and higher- income children widen as children progress through school.

Teen

How can we ensure that high achieving students attend and graduate from selective colleges?
Low-Income Students
Dropout rates for students from low-income households are twice as high as those from high income households.

Young Adult

How do we ensure low-income individuals don’t have their chance for upward mobility undermined by incarceratation?
Low-Income Black Men
21% of black men born to the lowest income families are incarcerated on a given day. Over 75% of incarcerated people earned less than $38k before incarceration.

Adult

How can we eliminate unconscious biases in hiring practices?
Racial Minorities
A study that responded to help wanted ads in Boston and Chicago found that resumes with White-sounding names receive 50% more callbacks for interviews.

Elderly

How can we make sure that household income is not a predeterminant of life expectancy?
Low-Income Households
Low-income individuals have lower life expectancy.

Solution Example 1

Helping Elementary Students Succeed

In Class Today

What upward mobility factor does your proposed solution address?

Education is a very important factor for enabling upward mobility. Research shows that an individual’s work-life earnings potential is highly correlated with the level of education they complete.

Unfortunately, chronic absenteeism undermines students’ ability to successfully graduate from high school and position themselves to go to college. The consequences of chronic absenteeism are significant. Absences robustly predict students’ academic performance, high school graduation rate, drug and alcohol use, criminality, and risk of later life adverse outcomes.

Who in America is negatively impacted by this upward mobility factor?

There are a variety of underlying causes for chronic absenteeism and we see evidence of chronic absenteeism across all school districts in the US. Data shows that the rates of absenteeism are higher in low-income and urban school districts. Youth struggling with unstable living conditions are also particularly prone to being chronically absent.

More than 24 million K-12 students are chronically absent (generally defined as missing 18 or more days of school a year) or at-risk of becoming chronically absent, and collectively they miss more than 300 million days of instruction.

What is your proposed solution to addresss this upward mobility factor?

Personalized mail-based communications with behaviorally informed content and data from school districts to parents and guardians of chronically absent and at-risk students.

What evidence (if any) do you have that supports the feasibility of this solution being an effective intervention?

In Class Today’s interventions originate from innovative experiments conducted by Dr. Todd Rogers and the Student Social Support R&D Lab at Harvard University. These studies involve more than 250,000 at-risk students in the United States and around the world.

In 16 school districts across the US, In Class Today’s interventions have gone through randomized controlled studies at the Student Social Support R&D Lab at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. The notable studies are:

At scale, what type of positive impact can your proposed solution create?

In Class Today’s mission is to reduce absenteeism among at-risk Pre-K–12 students by one million days per year in America.

If In Class Today were rolled out across the roughly 5 million students who are chronically absent each year, we could help prevent 750,000 students from being chronically absent each year.

Solution Example 2

Helping Adults Get Jobs

Recruiting Platform Built for Candidates

What upward mobility factor does your proposed solution address?

There are a wide variety of unconscious biases in the hiring and recruitment process. A study conducted in Boston and Chicago found that resumes with White-sounding names receive 50% more callbacks for interviews than resumes with African-American-sounding names.

Behavioral gaps occur on the employee-side of the recruitment process as well. A Hewlett Packard internal report found that men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the qualifications whereas women apply for them only when they meet 100% of the qualifications. This gap results in a segment of society not receiving more senior, and higher paying, positions at the same rate as their male counterparts.

Who in America is negatively impacted by this upward mobility factor?

The problem is spread across many dimensions of the job market and hard to quantify. The impact is both in one’s ability to get a job and in the missed opportunity cost of not potentially getting a higher paying job, which could then lead to a different career trajectory altogether.

While unemployment rates in the US are at all-time lows, three in ten US adults worked in the gig economy in 2017, indicating that there is a material portion of the population with inconsistent and varying pay rates.

What is your proposed solution to addresss this upward mobility factor?

Our solution is to build a recruitment platform designed for employees, rather than the multitude of solutions today that all tailor themselves around employer needs. This platform can remove bias from the recruitment process in a variety of ways:

What evidence (if any) do you have that supports the feasibility of this solution being an effective intervention?

The existence of dozens of recruitment platforms proves that there are viable and sustainable business opportunities in the space. The challenge will be to achieve scale on both the employer and the employee sides of the equation to make it an attractive marketplace.

Fortunately, thousands of jobs in the US are already publicly posted online and the data can be scraped to provide a well populated list of career opportunities. In addition, the service can start as a direct-to-employee tool that helps candidates identify positions that they are well matched to get. This tool can attract candidates to upload their resumes, thus building out the other side of the data needed to establish the marketplace.

Solution Example 3

Helping Teenage and At-Risk Mothers

Communication Support Service for Pregnant Women

What upward mobility factor does your proposed solution address?

The delivery of healthy and developmentally appropriate babies helps both the mother and the baby avoid potential limits on future opportunities. Being born with deficiencies and/or delays due to avoidable issues while in utero undermines an individual’s potential outcome from the start. Caring for a child with health and/or developmental issues also increases the burden on the parent(s) and the child’s support system.

Who in America is negatively impacted by this upward mobility factor?

Roughly half of the pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Unintended pregnancies and the subsequent births put a substantial burden on the lives of women and their families. In addition, lower income teenagers have both a higher chance of getting pregnant and a less financial support during the pregnancy.

What is your proposed solution to address this upward mobility factor?

Advances in communication technology now allow us to achieve meaningful behavior change to improve outcomes for pregnant women at scale. By combining chatbots, natural language processing, triggered text messages, and group chat functionality, we can provide a real-time pregnancy companion that guides an expectant mother through a healthy pregnancy and offers support services when she has questions along the way.

The service we envision can help pregnant women in a variety of ways:

What evidence (if any) do you have that supports the feasibility of this solution being an effective intervention?

Chatbots already exist to provide customer support services across a variety of industries. There is an array of research that indicates that the timeliness and context for behavioral intervention is important. Automated text messages allow for timely reminders and chatbot technology can allow expecting mothers to ask questions when they’re top of mind, rather than waiting for their next medical appointment.

In addition, a similar intervention approach was taken with newly admitted Freshman at Georgia State and the impact was studied using a randomized control trial. The study found that 90% of the students who were offered a texting platform with admissions opted into the program and 63% engaged with it. The engaged users exchanged an average of 60 text messages regarding college administration enrollment and services. 80% of students gave the service 4 or 5 stars (out of 5) and the college saw a 21% reduction in the amount of ‘summer melt’ (i.e. accepted students failing to follow-through with college enrollment) prior to their Freshman year.

Furthermore, the benefits of group prenatal care for women who are due around the same time are well documented by CenteringPregnancy. Having group chat capabilities for the women outside their group appointments further extends those benefits.

At scale, what type of positive impact can your proposed solution create?

There are roughly 6.2m pregnancies in the US each year and roughly 4m babies born. Ensuring that mothers are healthy during their pregnancies, particularly mothers of unintended pregnancies, will increase the rate of healthy and developmentally appropriate babies born each year.

What type of coalition will need to come together (if any) to develop, evaluate, and scale the proposed solution?

We believe that insurers and Medicaid will ultimately benefit from this service by creating healthier outcomes for moms and babies. Unfortunately, the economic drivers of health services do not always align with outcome-based solutions. As such, we expect that there will need to be grants to fund the development and rollout of this solution so that it can get a foothold into becoming a scalable service.