For a recent #BuildItBackBetter event, NationSwell Council member Andrew Yang, entrepreneur and former Democratic candidate for United States President, and Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood, gathered around our digital table to identify some of the most compelling and precise solutions for creating a more human-centered and dynamic national economy. The event was moderated by Marie Groark, Director of Programs at Schultz Family Foundation

Here are some of the insights and resources they surfaced.


  • The structure of the current economy has been broken for some time: COVID didn’t break anything, it simply exacerbated already existing realities of inequality.
  • You can’t solve trillion-dollar problems with a million dollars: Half of all philanthropy each year goes to alma maters, and half of the remaining half goes to hospitals and houses of worship
  • We all need to think of ways we can better give people power and autonomy over their own financial circumstances: an important tool in this regard can be direct cash assistance. Millions of people recently received cash assistance this April and this didn’t make them lazy, it simply allowed them to address immediate needs and take care of themselves and others. 
  • Philanthropy alone is never going to make up for bad policy: you have to attack bad policies directly and develop new policies. 
  • There is a very human need that is screaming at us right now – our job is not to make pain tolerable, our job is to break down why the pain is there in the first place and what we need to do to change the systems causing the pain.
  • Given that philanthropy dollars don’t match up with our current needs, we need to start embracing the fact that we all have to get political.

Practices/Calls To Action:

  • Philanthropy should see itself as risk-capital: the thing that is able to nurture ideas that are scaleable, prove they can work, then pass them on to our government partners. We should not be thinking about ourselves as a line item. Ask yourself: what’s the problem you’re trying to solve? And how are you trying to solve it?
  • Create a dashboard for human flourishing: People in power need to change the very measurements of our economic progress from GDP, stock market values and unemployment rate to life expectancy, mental health, freedom from substance abuse and childhood success rates. 
  • We need a truth and reconciliation process — to face up to the original sin of slavery and the continuing racsim against people of color, just like other countries like Rwanda and Ireland and Chile have done
  • Give every American 100 dollars they can use to give to a non-profit every year
  • Public officials proactively collaborate with non-profits: every mayor of every city should know and collaborate with the leading local non-profits to solve problems with a community perspective
  • Get civically involved: vote, adopt a candidate, lend a hand to local races, or consider running yourselves!
  • Think bigger and better and more creatively about how you can support equitable solutions


If you missed the conversation, watch it here on our Facebook page.


#BuilditBackBetter is an ongoing initiative that will invite the NationSwell community to come together to surface the solutions and ideas that can help us to emerge from this period of crisis with a more equitable, inclusive, resilient society and planet. Learn more about it here.