Innovating a way out of poverty

Hunger; homelessness; criminal justice reform; these are all expansive issues which can feel impossible to solve when taken as a whole.

And despite decades of efforts to fight them, we’re not seeing the progress against poverty we would expect. For Evan Feinberg, that’s a sign of a staid way of looking at things due for a shake up.

For 50 to 60 years, tens of trillions of dollars have been spent by the government and private philanthropists to attack poverty from the top down. “But on every trend that matters, we’re failing,” Feinberg says. There has been a lot of money and a lot of time spent, he believes, without ever asking what he considers the most important question: What truly helps individual people to make their lives better?

Feinberg believes that the solutions come from the people who know the problems best; nonprofits that are run by members of the community they serve, and that treat people like customers with distinct needs that must be met. Change needs to come from the bottom up.