RFP Preliminary Notice: “Inclusive Economy Labs”


Inclusive Economy Lab, a pilot program from EmcArts’ Community Innovation Labs, will assist communities to explore complex challenges related to financial health, inclusion and opportunity. 

The full RFP – to be released by February 14th – will invite consortia of committed individuals and agencies in any urban area of the country to submit proposals (deadline: March 17th) around complex financial issues of their choice, with possibilities centering around consumer financial services, financial readiness/fitness, business development, job creation and workforce development, business or mortgage financing, and more.  EmcArts is interested in learning from local communities how they see, frame, and define the issue, and how they envision the Community Innovation Lab model assisting them.

We will hold a one-hour informational session for all interested parties on Friday, February 17th at 1pm Eastern time. Register here.

Community Innovation Labs, advanced by EmcArts, are a new and exciting vehicle for helping communities unpack complex challenges, build capacity around adaptive change, and integrate the arts not only as a means of engagement but to enable new ways of knowing and original strategies to be developed.  The Labs exist to support the discovery and prototyping of new approaches to social challenges that have resisted traditional planning or where existing local services are seen as inadequate.  The Labs repeatedly convene community stakeholders from multiple sectors, including those whose voices have historically been absent or ignored.  Cross-sector innovation groups that emerge are supported to test new strategies for change.  The Labs take a deliberately experimental and creative approach to making progress in complex systems.

EmcArts has been conducting Community Innovation Labs since 2015 in various cities and on varying issues: in Winston-Salem, NC around racial equity and shared abundance; Providence, RI around community safety; Dallas, TX around food security and food deserts; and Buffalo, NY around “making just transitions to a new economy.” and the new economy.  Further details will be provided in the forthcoming RFP. 

The pioneering “Inclusive Economy Labs” are funded by the MetLife Foundation, that recently commissioned the illuminating report Understanding and Improving Consumer Financial Health in America.  Current funding enables the selection of one initial site for the pilot Lab, while future plans are under consideration.  MetLife is providing up to $250,000 for EmcArts to provide staff support to this project for 20 months (including a final working group prototyping phase).  The local community must raise another $100,000 exclusively for locally-related costs (research, events, participant stipends, local artists & facilitators, etc).  Site selection will occur in early April and the first convening will occur at the end of that month.  The project will run through December of 2018. 
If you are interested, please send an email to dshumei@emcarts.org with simply the words “Interested in Inclusive Economy Lab RFP” in the subject line in order to ensure your receipt of the RFP, which will also be posted publicly. 

If you have questions, please await review of the RFP; we also encourage you to attend the informational session on February 17. However, all interested parties are strongly encouraged to begin conversations with prospective consortium partners so as to be able to respond swiftly and thoroughly prior to the RFP’s deadline of March 17th.  

Thank you for your interest.  We expect this to be a meaningful and dynamic learning journey!
Photo: Providence Community Innovation Lab, 2016; Credit: Dilan Alvarado & Jose Navarro-Robles