Alameda County was established in 1853 from portions of Contra Costa and Santa Clara Counties. It was given the local name for the region, Alameda, which translates loosely as “a grove of poplars.” As one of the largest counties in the US, it enjoys a varied geography encompassing urban marinas, rolling open spaces, and hillside lakes and streams.
Though Alameda County is home to many notable movements and people (including Vice President Kamala Harris), many residents face challenges in achieving social and economic success. Through its participation in the Upward Mobility Cohort, Alameda County aims to create a framework for action that builds upon existing efforts and identifies new strategies to address racial inequities and key factors that block many residents’ ability to achieve upward mobility.
The county, one of the largest in the US, is focusing primarily on communities of color with low incomes, many of which struggle to find a pathway up and out of poverty. Many have also been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and will take longer to recover from its impact on their economic and social well-being. However, because of routine lags in data collection, county leaders don’t fully understand the scope of the pandemic’s impact. Their hope is that their Mobility Action Plan will provide a framework for connecting the mobility metrics with Alameda County’s existing reporting systems and tools.
The county already has work underway aimed at increasing racial equity and boosting upward mobility. Among its efforts is ALL IN, which the county launched in 2014 to tackle issues related to poverty, including equitable access to housing and food as well as quality economic and educational opportunities. Meanwhile, the Alameda County’s membership in the Government Alliance on Race & Equity provides county agencies and departments with opportunities to develop strategies for explicitly addressing racial inequities and applying racial equity tools when making decisions. Other programs in Alameda County schools and within the juvenile justice system are focused on reducing racial and ethnic disparities and mitigating systemic inequities.
As Alameda County looks to how it will measure its progress on boosting upward mobility, one aim is to land on a set of three to four actionable mobility metrics from Urban Institute’s framework, including one that focuses on local conditions related to the environment and to public safety.
Alameda County is collaborating with several organizations to develop its Mobility Action Plan. Among them are the following: