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The Alchemy of Urban Poverty / Profit

During the day, decaying downtowns are filled with unemployed poor residents on the block and high-earning commuters in the skyscrapers. These clusters only typically collide in illegal (or even criminal) circumstances. But there's a better way.

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In 1992, David Henry founded The Allegheny Child Care Academy (ACCA) in downtown Pittsburgh.  His aim was to offer high quality child care to commuting parents who worked in the economically depressed downtown. Demand exploded for his high quality inner city child care center, but it wasn't just working moms from the suburbs seeking to use ACCA's services.  Welfare mothers with state childcare subsidies were also interested. They had never seen a service of this quality in their neighborhoods. 

By leveraging the steady payments of the subsidies and the higher payments of the suburban customers, Henry  offered exceptionally high quality services in an area where virtually nothing existed before. ACCA also helped to shrink the divide between people on opposite sides of the economic and opportunity spectrums.   

What other opportunities are there for this type of urban alchemy?

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Fab term – makes me think we could have called this the Urban Alchemy Challenge!

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DeletedUser

Alchemy is a great word, isn't it? It has some sort of magical connotation that implies we can turn lead to gold.

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