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Our August 2021 Work: Digital Equity for Black Communities, House Staff Get a Raise & More

Economic Studies

Understanding the economic crisis in Black communities: Joint Center Vice President Jessica Fulton discussed the importance of disaggregated data and including Black communities in the policymaking process during a conversation on Black economics and the jobs crisis with Solana Rice, co-founder and co-executive director of Liberation in a Generation and Kyle Moore, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute. The conversation was hosted by Dr. Seft Hunter of Community Change Action. Learn more about the event here.

Digital equity for Black communities: Dr. Dominique Harrison—Joint Center technology policy director—discussed digital equity with Dr. Fallon Wilson, co-founder of Black Public Interest Technologist, and educational consultant Dr. Cathy Trimble at the 2021 Rainbow PUSH Coalition Annual Convention. Dr. Nicol Turner Lee—director of the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings—moderated the conversation.

The importance of skills training: Dr. Alex Camardelle—Joint Center workforce policy director—joined a discussion about investing in skills training and an inclusive economic recovery hosted by the National Skills Coalition. Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of the National Skills Coalition; Allison Dembeck, U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president of education and labor advocacy; and Brad Markell, AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council executive director, also joined. Watch here.

Impact on tech policy legislation: Last month, Dr. Dominique Harrison—Joint Center technology policy director—released an issue brief on expanding broadband access in the Black Rural South (152 rural counties with populations that are at least 35 percent Black), where 38 percent of African Americans report that they do not have access to home internet. Many of Dr. Harrison’s recommendations are in the bipartisan infrastructure package that is currently moving through Congress, including a $65 billion investment in broadband infrastructure, provisions to end digital redlining, and the creation of a “permanent program to help more low-income households access the internet.”

Talking tech policy: The Brookings Institution referenced the Joint Center’s Expanding Broadband in the Black Rural South issue brief in their TechTank podcast. The brief highlights the challenges in and solutions for expanding broadband in southern rural counties with populations that are 35 percent Black or higher. Listen to the podcast here.


Political Studies

House staff get a raise: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that the House will raise the maximum annual pay for congressional staff to $199,300. The pay raise falls in line with a Joint Center recommendation to create a diversity plan for recruiting, hiring, training, promoting, and retaining a diverse House staff. According to Speaker Pelosi, the pay raise will “help the Congress recruit and retain the outstanding and diverse talent that we need, as it also helps ensure parity between employees of the House of Representatives and other employees of the Federal Government.” Earlier this year, the Joint Center signed a letter urging the U.S. House of Representatives’ chief administrative officer to study staff compensation. Read more here about the Joint Center’s work to increase congressional staff diversity.


In Case You Missed It

Our history: Robert Gray, attorney and former Joint Center contributor, details the founding and early history of the Joint Center, “the oldest Black think tank in the United States” in Black Past.


Upcoming

On Sept. 1, join Dr. Alex Camardelle—the Joint Center’s workforce policy director—for a live conversation with PBS and the Aspen Institute on shaping the future of work. RSVP here.

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