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Ben Hecht
Mr. Hecht has been the President & CEO of Living Cities since July, 2007. Since that time, the organization has adopted a broad, integrative agenda that harnesses the collective knowledge of its 22 member foundations and financial institutions to benefit low income people and the cities where they live. Living Cities deploys a unique blend of more than $140 million in grants, loans and influence to re-engineer obsolete public systems and connect low-income people and underinvested places to opportunity.

Prior to joining Living Cities, Mr. Hecht co-founded One Economy Corporation, a nonprofit organization that leverages the power of technology and information to connect low-income people to the economic mainstream through broadband in the home and public-purpose media.

Mr. Hecht received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center and his CPA from the State of Maryland. For 10 years, he taught at Georgetown University Law Center. In 1997, he was awarded Georgetown’s prestigious Charles Fahy Distinguished Adjunct Professor Award.

Entries by Ben Hecht

We Could Be Providing Better Education Solutions to Low-Income Americans, But Aren't

(4) Comments | Posted October 5, 2015 | 6:40 PM

When my grandfather came to this country, he barely spoke English, but he was able to get a good enough education that allowed him to compete in the economy at the time and land a good enough job to support and build his family. That was the intent and promise...

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Asset Building and the Path to a "Universal Fix" to Poverty

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2015 | 5:39 PM

The ability of a family to transfer wealth from one generation to the next is the single most important factor for ending intergenerational poverty. Yet the ability of low-income people to grow wealth by owning assets in the U.S. has been decreasing since the Great Recession, not increasing....

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Change Isn't the Greatest Political Challenge, Sustaining It Is

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2015 | 3:20 PM

I was blown away by former Bogotá, Colombia Mayor Antanas Mockus recent op-ed, "The Art of Changing a City" in The New York Times. It is reflective, honest and practical. Most importantly, it plays on many of the promising practices we are seeing in American cities, and believe...

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Failure as a Public Good

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2015 | 11:05 AM

Last week, Jim Anderson of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Andrea Phillips of Goldman Sachs shared lessons from their investment in a social impact bond to reduce recidivism at Riker's Island. In less than 850 words, they publicly admitted to the failure of the program to achieve its desired outcomes...

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Baltimore, Race and the New Urban Practice

(0) Comments | Posted April 30, 2015 | 5:35 PM

The riots that have shaken Baltimore over the past few days are just the latest in a series of recent events that have put America's racial divide front and center in the nation's consciousness. Let's be clear, that is an important and necessary place for this issue to be. The...

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How Can We Recapture the Spirit of Community Engagement That Built America?

(0) Comments | Posted March 17, 2015 | 1:08 PM

" Let each person do his or her part....For the American idea, though it is shared by all of us, is realized in each one of us." -- Barbara Jordan (American political and civil rights leader, 1936-1996)

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the...

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Hiding in Plain Sight: Disaggregating Data to Address the Racial Divide in Education

(0) Comments | Posted October 13, 2014 | 11:33 AM

This blog is co-authored by Ben Hecht and Kathy Merchant, President & CEO of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.


Education is a game changer. Those that have more of it earn more over a lifetime and have the greatest chances to build wealth. Yet...

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Harnessing Government Technology for Good

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 2:51 PM

It's no surprise that technology has changed how people interact and redefined our notion of community. What you may not know is the extent to which governments today are using technology -- moving towards a vision for 'government as platform.' Cities across the U.S. are turning to data, software and...

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From Ideas to Action: Cities as Drivers of Economic Opportunity

(0) Comments | Posted March 21, 2014 | 1:55 PM

This blog is co-authored by Ben Hecht and Brandee McHale, Chief Operating Officer at the Citi Foundation.


U.S. cities produce 85 percent of the nation's GDP, are home to more than 50 percent of the population, and spend billions of dollars...

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Massachusetts Pay for Success Initiative Advances Government, Private Sector, and Philanthropic Investment in Human Capital

(0) Comments | Posted February 11, 2014 | 11:50 AM

Can you do good and do well? This is the driving question for impact investors - those who want their dollars to both provide a reasonable return on their investment and make the world a better place. By some estimates, in the next 30 years, there will be as much...

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Hidden in the Shadows of the Government Shutdown, Millions Are Now Eligible for Health Care Coverage

(2) Comments | Posted October 16, 2013 | 3:03 PM

Despite the well-publicized issues with the Health Insurance Marketplace Open enrollment, millions of people are eligible to enroll, and demand is high. Websites crashed from exceeded bandwidth limits and anxious Americans reverted to good ole' fashioned postal mail. People across the United States are now scrambling to choose...

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The March Was Only a Beginning: Measuring Dr. King's Dream

(0) Comments | Posted August 28, 2013 | 12:00 PM

Dr. King's 'Dream' speech, like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Emancipation Proclamation before it, profoundly shaped modern America. In a society rife with discrimination, Dr. King dared to share a vision for a nation whereby the American Dream, in which his own inspiring dream was "deeply rooted,"...

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4 Ways Cities Should Be Adapting to Change

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 6:46 PM

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change" - Charles Darwin

Six years ago, Living Cities, a philanthropic collaborative composed of the nation's leading foundations and financial institutions, set...

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5 Elements That Could Fix What Ails America's Cities

(0) Comments | Posted May 3, 2013 | 3:00 PM

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston made an announcement on May 3 that has nothing to do with monetary policy or interest rates.  For that reason, it may be the most important statement it makes all year.  What's being announced, the 'Working Cities Challenge,'...

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The Transformational Power of Data

(0) Comments | Posted April 2, 2013 | 6:09 PM

"Data! Data! Data!" cried Sherlock Holmes in the Adventure of the Copper Beeches, "I can't make bricks without clay."

Data is central to the most effective "collective impact" initiatives across the country. Collective impact is a strategy in which partners come together across sectors, targeting the same set of measurable...

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Big Data Gets Personal in U.S. Cities

(2) Comments | Posted February 8, 2013 | 8:00 AM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

Much has already been said about how big data is dramatically changing the way that organizations make decisions. Today, more data is being created from more...

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What Would Carlos Slim Do?

(5) Comments | Posted June 26, 2012 | 8:08 PM

Mexican business leader and philanthropist Carlos Slim, whom Forbes magazine terms "the richest man in the world," recently donated $3 million to help low-income Hispanic families in the U.S. with school-age children get high-speed broadband and computers in their homes. He also agreed to join the board of...

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Bloomberg's Mayors Challenge Bets on America's Petri Dishes for Innovation

(0) Comments | Posted June 14, 2012 | 3:25 PM

I have a city bias. I live in New York and Washington, D.C. I run a collaborative of the nation's leading foundations and financial institutions, Living Cities, which has invested more than $1 billion in cities over the past 20 years. I've had the privilege to see amazing things happen...

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Big Data and a Brave New World

(1) Comments | Posted May 17, 2012 | 1:34 PM

John Tolva and Brett Goldstein are leading us into a Brave New World. John is the newly appointed chief technology officer for the City of Chicago and Brett, the city's chief data officer. Together, they are turning the promise of Big Data into reality in one...

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Mainstreaming Social Innovation With the Public Sector

(1) Comments | Posted April 16, 2012 | 5:13 PM

Social innovation has been a hot topic for a number of years now, but never more so than today. Conferences, awards, magazines, even a White House-led Social Innovation Fund, are dedicated to it. And for good reason. People have lost confidence in the institutions that they historically relied upon to...

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