Undo Poverty: Flushing

Learn more about how Mobility LABs and Undo Poverty: Flushing are changing the narrative on poverty

Two women posing in an outdoor setting and pointing towards a large advertisement on a building exterior

In the bustling heart of Queens, New York, the neighborhood of Flushing buzzes with life; the streets hum with diverse languages, the aroma of various cuisines fills the air, and a strong sense of community ties residents together. Yet, beneath this vibrant surface lies a harsh reality: many Flushing residents grapple with poverty, often unseen and unspoken. This is where the Undo Poverty: Flushing Collaborative steps in, transforming narratives and offering hope.

An innovative collaborative spearheaded by our grantee Chinese-American Planning Council, in partnership with other grantees  and orgs including Asian Americans for Equality, Child Center of NY, MinKwon Center for Community Action, Queens Public Library, and the River Fund, Undo Poverty: Flushing is supported by Robin Hood’s Mobility Learning and Action Bets (LABs). Launched in 2019 with a bold vision and a $25 million, four-year investment, Mobility LABs explores the intricate web of economic success, power, autonomy, and belonging across nine diverse communities in the United States, sourcing community-grown solutions to poverty that are driven by those who experience it.

Undo Poverty: Flushing fulfills this mission not only by connecting individuals to local community resources such as English literacy courses, emergency food relief, and career training but also by driving hyper-local community-driven narrative change work, like their out of the box marketing campaign, “Poverty: It’s Not What You Think,” and the recently produced documentary “The Cost of Living,” which delves into the lives and struggles of low-income Flushing residents.

Through a series of print ads splashed across billboards, subway stations, and local newspapers. These ads, rooted in data from community surveys, laid bare the barriers to economic mobility faced by Flushing residents, sparking crucial conversations about the true nature of poverty.

In September 2023, the campaign reached a new pinnacle with the premiere of  a 50-minute documentary that serves as the heart of the narrative change effort. Created in partnership with Flushing-based Sixty First Productions, the film offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of three local families, exploring themes like housing, food security, health access, and the escalating cost of living, all set against the backdrop of Flushing’s vibrant yet challenging environment.

The documentary and the larger narrative change campaign have sparked profound changes; post-screening surveys reveal that over 50% of viewers have redefined their understanding of poverty, with many acknowledging its structural roots; and community members have become more open about their struggles, more willing to seek help, and more engaged in the fight for economic mobility.

The collaborative’s vision of a community united against poverty is increasingly tangible; through shared stories and collective action, Flushing is transforming from a place of hidden hardship to one of visible hope and resilience, a testament to the strength of New Yorkers, the impact of or grantees who support them, and to the importance of Robin Hood’s work to fight poverty and create a city that works for all New Yorkers.