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REGION

$1.3 million initiative aims to reduce income inequality

An Essex County charitable foundation recently announced plans to invest $1.3 million over the next three years on strategies to reduce income inequality in the region.

The Essex County Community Foundation, which serves the county’s 34 cities and towns, announced the initiative to more than 200 nonprofit and business leaders, philanthropists, and state legislators at a recent event in Peabody.

Empowering Economic Opportunity consists of four components set to be launched over the next six months, according to the foundation, which plans to work with nonprofit partners on each of them.

“With these four programs, we want to uncover the root causes of income inequality in our region to make lasting change,” Stratton Lloyd, the foundation’s vice president for community leadership and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

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In one of the initiatives, the foundation will work with five community action agencies, community colleges, financial literacy providers, banks, and community volunteers to provide financial literacy education and financial coaching to low-income families.

In another, it will work with local colleges and universities and others to enable adult learners to transform their experience and skills into college credits.

In a third, the foundation will expand a Lawrence-based commercial lending program for small businesses that would not otherwise qualify for bank loans.

The final program will involve the foundation convening stakeholders and experts in “think labs” to develop new ideas for reducing income inequality. For more information, go to eccf.org.


John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.