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In Case You Missed It: Policy Summit 2017

On June 22 and 23, the Cleveland Fed hosted its signature biennial policy event in downtown Cleveland: the 2017 Policy Summit on Housing, Human Capital, and Inequality. An audience of more than 300 policymakers, economists, community development professionals, and others came together for the 2-day summit to discuss enduring economic and social issues challenging the Cleveland Fed’s District and other areas of the country. Throughout the event, speakers shared research and policy options on myriad topics ranging from fintech lenders to the opioid addiction crisis that is ravaging families and communities in the Fourth District and across the nation.

Speakers shared research and policy options on myriad topics ranging from fintech lenders to the opioid addiction crisis.

J.D. Vance started the event speaking about his childhood experiences growing up in Middletown, Ohio, the inspiration behind his memoir, the New York Times bestseller Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Vance pointed to his own experiences in discussing many of the complicated social and economic issues that plague communities in the Appalachian region of the United States, an area that lies partially in the Cleveland Fed’s geographic Fourth Federal Reserve District, comprising Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

During a Q&A at the 2017 Policy Summit, keynote speaker J.D. Vance fields a question about how people who hope to escape poverty can do so without leaving an area. Mary Helen Petrus of the Cleveland Fed moderates.​
During a Q&A at the 2017 Policy Summit, keynote speaker J.D. Vance fields a question about how people who hope to escape poverty can do so without leaving an area. Mary Helen Petrus of the Cleveland Fed moderates. Click to enlarge

“The problems that Rust Belt families encounter are complex, and I found the best way to communicate these issues is to write about them as people and families with courage, passion, and bravery who also have their problems,” Vance said.

The Policy Summit included a mix of panel-style plenaries, research and practitioner breakout sessions, and a closing speech by Cleveland Fed President and Chief Executive Officer Loretta J. Mester. Friday morning’s panel titled “Storytelling through Creative Expression” featured examples of the way that art—whether written, oral, or visual—has transformed communities. The panel highlighted the Cleveland Fed Scholars program, a summer intern program for Cleveland-area high school students, as one of these creative endeavors, citing Somewhere in Cleveland: The Cleveland Fed Scholars Story Project, a book of poetry and stories the scholars wrote. The book was produced in collaboration with Lake Erie Ink and Esperanza Inc., 2 Cleveland-area nonprofits. Download your own free copy of the book.

The Fed scholars at Lincoln-West High School in Cleveland, Ohio, to preview their book Somewhere in Cleveland. Photo courtesy of Michael Galka, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.​
The Fed scholars at Lincoln-West High School in Cleveland, Ohio, to preview their book Somewhere in Cleveland. Photo courtesy of Michael Galka, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Click to enlarge

Fed scholars pen book

For several years, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has partnered with community organizations to employ students from area high schools in a summer internship program called the Fed Scholars program. The students learn about career paths, acquire workplace and life skills, and contribute to the Bank’s education and museum outreach. In 2017, for the first time, 7 Fed scholars became published authors. Read Somewhere in Cleveland: The Cleveland Fed Scholars Story Project, available for download here. After the book’s publication, the scholars met with civic leaders and with their peers to share their stories.

The Fed Scholars program was one of those featured at this year’s Policy Summit in a session focused on innovative programs that use art to engage multicultural groups, urban youth, and other under-tapped voices in civic life and discourse as a way to capture the narrative fabric of people and place.

Learn more about the 2017 Policy Summit and dive deeper into specific research and practitioner sessions.

Sum and substance: Policymakers, economists, community developers, and other guests gathered at the Policy Summit in June for outside-the-Beltway discussions of policy, research, and practitioner options to help address some of the region’s most pressing economic and social challenges.

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