The conference, which was the first of its kind and hosted by the State Department, convened leaders from local and state government – including Secretary of State Antony Blinken whom Beam had the pleasure of hosting – community groups, nonprofits, academia, and the private sector to discuss how we tackle our most pressing challenges and build innovative cities that work for everyone.
As presenters at the conference, we had the chance to connect with inspiring government leaders and community organizations across the world. We learned more about some of the key issues affecting communities both domestically and abroad, and began engaging around how we might collectively build the next generation of the social safety net - a new public benefits system that positions communities to be resilient and equitable in the face of new challenges, and treats both constituents and government case managers with dignity and respect.
Our conversations at the summit centered around several themes for collective action across all cities in the Americas: effectively promoting democratic governance, inclusive economic growth, humane and orderly migration, sustainability and resilience, and equitable social inclusion.
The common thread across all of this, however, was the impact of climate change on our communities, and the urgency with which we need to re-engineer our social safety net to ensure that these goals are achievable.
The range of topics discussed was expansive: from providing empathetic, timely, and coordinated support to those seeking asylum after a climate event, to streamlining access to natural disaster relief, to creating the talent and incentive pipelines necessary to fill green jobs, and ensuring we weatherize, fortify, and grow our housing stock to minimize displacement and disruption of our communities.
And while the message was clear that there is significant and urgent work to do to ensure our communities are ready for the challenges ahead, it was also clear that there is a robust, dedicated, and passionate group of leaders - from local officials to HUD leaders to governors, all the way up to the Secretary of State himself - ready not only to take on these challenges, but also embrace them as opportunities.
What was also evident from our conversations is how much Beam can contribute to elevating the economic, civic, and cultural life of our cities and the collective solutioning ahead. This is a critical moment for us to reimagine the future of service delivery, particularly as communities begin to make targeted investments into their digital infrastructure for addressing these intersectional issues. Whether it’s helping cities support the coordinated entry of migrants into communities in a way that also upholds access to benefits in a “no-wrong-door-approach”, rapidly deploying disaster relief using critical census tract and historical data to optimize targeting of relief funds, administering workforce development programs for green jobs, or supporting the management of grants, benefits, and credits related to weatherizing, fortifying, or electrifying homes, Beam’s end-to-end, configurable solution is well positioned to help cities address these opportunities of the future.
But as was made clear at the conference, technology and innovation are a means to an end. Beam is excited to continue to collaborate with leaders like those at the Cities Summit to ensure we’re rigorously understanding these complex, intersectional problems and representing the right solutions together.
“Across the globe, migrants and refugees are moving to cities in pursuit of employment and a safe home. Today, mayors discussed migration not as a crisis to be solved but as an opportunity to elevate the economic, civic, and cultural life of their cities Despite cities' proven success in working with and welcoming migrants, securing financing is a major barrier to city action. And too often, mayors have been sidelined in national and international policy discussions. The Summit shows that mayors and local leaders are essential partners to advance progress in cities around the world.”
Executive Director of the Mayors Migration Council.