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Every Zip Code Has A Story.

Why do you still hope?

That’s the question we found ourselves asking in the middle of 2020 as the pandemic spread and our country reckoned with social injustice. To answer it, we returned to some of the most memorable voices from our first season—the ambassadors of hope who inspired us with their tireless resilience in the face of adversity. The result is Zip Code Economies 1.5—a project we never intended to make, but that we can now never forget. Please join us.

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About the show

Watch the Zip Code Economies Season 1 trailer (transcript).

Learn more about the origin story behind Zip Code Economies (transcript).


Listen to the latest from Zip Code Economies.

East Palo Alto Introduction

Only 2.64 square miles, East Palo Alto borders more affluent Silicon Valley neighbors on all sides. In the wake of dramatic demographic changes and soaring housing prices, residents have found creative ways to maintain their way of life. Now, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and the killing of George Floyd introduces another complex dimension to the community’s identity, while rekindling conversations around decades-old economic and racial injustices.

*All photos are from season 1

Planting Tulips

In the first episode of Zip Code Economies 1.5, we reconnect with someone who understands how to nurture hope in others, even during the most difficult times. Pastor Paul Bains is a tireless advocate in East Palo Alto, especially on issues of justice and equality. Like tulips, we learn that hope can be buried for a time, but returns with patience, love, and perseverance.


  • Pastor Paul Bains

Resiliency is a Mindset

July 9, 2019

East Palo Alto, California, is a 2.64 square mile community surrounded by tech giants and staggering wealth, where residents must weigh being welcoming to newcomers today with the real possibility their own families may be displaced tomorrow. In this episode of Zip Code Economies, we meet individuals bridging this tension through entrepreneurship, coding, and legal services. While the future may be uncertain, residents have a mindset rooted in resiliency that offers reason to be optimistic.


  • Youth United for Community Action students
  • Tim Russell
  • Frederick Alexander
  • Salimah Hankins


  • Youth United for Community Action
  • Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
  • StreetCode Academy
  • Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto

Loving the Bulldog Way

July 16, 2019

How do you love yourself and your community when it feels like the whole world is against you? In this episode of Zip Code Economies, we head back to East Palo Alto and talk with a charter school principal, an “old-school” police chief, and a pastor who runs a homeless shelter where billionaires take out the trash. Through these conversations, we witness a refrain of love and forgiveness, which is transforming East Palo Alto from the inside out.


  • Amika Guillaume
  • East Palo Alto Academy students
  • Albert Pardini
  • Paul Bains


  • East Palo Alto Academy
  • East Palo Alto Police Department
  • Project WeHOPE

Salt Lake City Introduction

Since 1848, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has played a central role in Salt Lake City’s culture and economy. Today, while the church remains influential, newcomers—particularly of color—bring rapid change. Now, COVID-19 and the national reckoning on systemic racism causes new fault lines to emerge.

*All photos are from season 1, except for photo #7 which is from 2020

The Family You Choose

In our continued search for answers, we check in with Will Unga, a Pacific Islander raising his young kids in the predominately white, religious community of Salt Lake City. He walks us through his experiences, reminding us of our obligation to continually cultivate hope for the sake of both past and future generations.


  • Will Unga

A Leap of Faith

June 25, 2019

What makes a neighbor? In this episode of Zip Code Economies, we head to Salt Lake City, where we grapple with matters of values, faith, and inclusion— while confronting some of our own biases. In the search for clarity, we talk to an array of residents, from a demographic researcher at the University of Utah to a Brigham Young University student interning at the San Francisco Fed.


  • Will Unga
  • Brandon Payne
  • Pam Perlich
  • Josh and Elizabeth England


  • Salt Lake City Community College
  • The University of Utah
  • England Logistics, Inc.

A New Economic Reality

June 28, 2019

We continue to chisel away at preconceptions through conversations with five women in Salt Lake City - all of them part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this episode of Zip Code Economies, we take a closer look at their individual paths to the labor force, which all reflect a broader narrative of more women than ever before choosing to pursue work outside the home.


  • Janae Moss
  • Robbyn Scribner
  • Susan Madsen
  • Meg Walter
  • Sister Henrie


  • Utah Women and Leadership Project at Utah Valley University
  • Silicon Slopes

Honolulu Introduction

A “beef stew” of diverse cultures, Honolulu has cemented its role as a major economic center for Hawaii and the western United States. While the economy continues to diversify, the city still heavily relies on tourism, which COVID-19 dramatically curtailed. As unemployment soars, Honolulu grapples with the tension between reopening to tourists and protecting the health of residents.

*All photos are from season 1

The Essence of Kuleana

March 15, 2021

If the intergenerational transmission of hope is a journey, Lahela Williams is an ideal guide. A Native Hawaiian, she discusses the effects of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement in Honolulu, while drawing parallels with the fight to protect the sacred mountain, Mauna Kea. Through it all, we learn that from great chaos comes great change, and we have the “kuleana”—or responsibility—to maintain hope.


  • Lahela Williams

Hidden Hawaii

August 6, 2019

Many people think of Hawaii as a vacation destination. But what about the people who call it home? In this episode of Zip Code Economies, we travel to Honolulu to uncover “hidden” Hawaii. Through the stories of a blind shopkeeper, Filipino immigrants transitioning jobs, and a native Hawaiian working to build financial resilience, we encounter a community striving to adapt to tough economic realities in a landscape dominated by tourism.


  • Ryan Kusumoto
  • Zachery Grace
  • Shantel Jones
  • Kim Gillis-Robello
  • James Hardway
  • Janny Mendoza
  • John Dumayag
  • Lahela Williams


  • Parents and Children Together (PACT)
  • Hotel And Restaurant Industry Employment & Training Trust (HARIETT) Hawaii
  • Hawaiian Community Assets

Searching for Ohana

August 13, 2019

When you ask residents what makes Hawaii such a special place to live, one word comes up over and over again: “ohana.” But what is “ohana”? In this episode of Zip Code Economies, we return to Honolulu to find out. Join us as we walk away with not just one definition of ohana, but many—all of which we hope to carry back to the mainland.


  • Michelle Kauhane
  • Michael Bruno
  • University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa students
  • Lahela Williams
  • Shantel Jones


  • Hawaii Community Foundation
  • University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
  • Hawaiian Community Assets

Firebaugh Introduction

In the heart of California’s Central Valley, Firebaugh is a tight-knit, agricultural community that generations of immigrants have called home. Thanks to an intergenerational commitment to education, more than 97% of their young people- many of them English language learners— graduate high school. Now, like many low- to moderate-income communities of color, COVID-19 casts a long shadow on Firebaugh’s economy, sense of community, and access to education.

*All photos are from season 1

Warrior of Light

March 22, 2021

We reconnect with Mr. Sanchez, the 10th grade English teacher at Firebaugh High School, who is the definition of an essential worker in the pandemic. Racial and economic inequities have always existed in Firebaugh, and recent events have only magnified this reality. As lack of internet access threatens to cut students off from his class, Mr. Sanchez fights to ensure continued access to education as an act of social justice.


  • Luis Sanchez

Intergenerational Transmission of Hope

June 21, 2019

At first glance, Firebaugh doesn’t seem to have much going for it as a small, agricultural community in the fifth poorest region in America. Yet somehow 97% of students in this primarily immigrant town graduate high school and 77% head to college. In the inaugural episode of Zip Code Economies, we discover the recipe for this success at Firebaugh High School.


  • Luis Sanchez
  • Luis Linares
  • Russell Freitas
  • Cynthia Best


  • Firebaugh High School

Your Current State Does Not Determine Your Future State

June 21, 2019

Can a physical place be a source of comfort? Can it be a light in the midst of darkness? We explore these questions and more in this episode of Zip Code Economies, as we return to the community of Firebaugh. From the Firebaugh Police Department, which serves as a type of community hub, to the campus of West Hills Community College operating in a former bowling alley, we meet individuals living out the message: Your current state does not have to determine your future state.


  • Salvador Raygoza
  • Fernando Moreno
  • Raquel Tabares
  • Brady Jenkins
  • Angelic Salinas
  • Amber Myrick


  • Firebaugh Police Department
  • City of Firebaugh
  • Firebaugh High School
  • West Hills Community College

San Diego Introduction

The San Diego economy is truly international in scope- a prime example of a “cross-border” community. With its close proximity to Mexico, the city relies on international trade, defense, healthcare, and biotechnology as it welcomes a growing proportion of immigrants from all over the world. While San Diego’s agility has helped it adapt to changing economic conditions, the pandemic has not left the city and its residents unscathed.

*All photos are from season 1

Virtuous Cycle of Hope

March 29, 2021

As we wrap up Zip Code Economies 1.5, we want to know how young people are faring. So we reconnect with Nefiso and Najmo Abdi, twin sisters we met as high schoolers from San Diego’s tight-knit Somali community. Now in college and navigating the intersection of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests, they recognize you can’t put a timeline on change. Instead, they focus on what they can—learning from this time of turmoil and making sure their voices are heard.


  • Nefiso Abdi
  • Najmo Abdi

An Economy Like Water

August 20, 2019

On our last stop this season, we land in San Diego facing a chicken or egg dilemma: Do communities create economies? Or is it the other way around? To help us solve that puzzle, we talk to a manager of a nonprofit, a hotel CEO, a colonel in the Marines, and a Spanish teacher – people who might not seem to have much in common, but who have found a shared home in this fluid, ever-changing part of Southern California.


  • Kristen Walker
  • Colonel Jason Woodworth
  • Robert Gleason
  • Dan Watman


  • San Diego Workforce Partnership
  • Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
  • Evans Hotels
  • Friends of Friendship Park

Your Zip Code Doesn’t Define Your Destiny

August 27, 2019

How can you change the narrative when the odds are stacked against you? We wrap up this season of Zip Code Economies back in San Diego, with a look at how education is creating new opportunities for not just students, but entire families. As a new generation moves forward as contributors in society, they’re determined to not forget where they came from, while also embracing that zip code doesn’t define their destiny.


  • Katherine Field
  • Reality Changers students
  • Chanel Bradley
  • Jacqueline Guan
  • Sara Boquin
  • Barrio Logan College Institute students
  • Adelita Jasso
  • Connie Snowden


  • Monarch School
  • Reality Changers
  • Barrio Logan College Institute

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Zip Code Economies?

Zip Code Economies is a podcast from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Hosted by Mary C. Daly, the series uncovers stories of hope in unlikely places, and puts a human face on micro-economies within the nine Western states of the Federal Reserve’s Twelfth District.

Who is Mary C. Daly?

Mary C. Daly is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. As a member of the Federal Open Market Committee, she helps set American monetary policy. Dr. Daly is an accomplished labor economist with a Ph.D. from Syracuse University. She previously hosted Twice Around, another podcast from the San Francisco Fed. Originally from Ballwin, Missouri (63011), she now resides in Oakland, California (94610) with her wife, Shelly.

Why did the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco make this podcast?

The San Francisco Fed is responsible for the largest and most diverse district within the Federal Reserve System. Making sure the economy works for everyone who lives here is a top priority, and the most effective way to do that is by directly engaging with the people we serve. Zip Code Economies provides a forum for people to share their own stories. And at a time when society seems more divided than ever, it offers valuable insight into how individuals and institutions can still build bridges at the community level.

What does this have to do with economics?

Economics is ultimately the study of people, and how they choose to live and work as a community. By elevating what’s working at the micro-level, Zip Code Economies invites listeners to consider how these lessons learned could be applied at the macro-level.

What did listeners experience in Season 1?

Across ten episodes, Season 1 of Zip Code Economies visited five communities within the Federal Reserve’s diverse Twelfth District:

  • Firebaugh, California
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • East Palo Alto, California
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • San Diego, California
In each episode, we heard from people facing issues we hear about every day, while striving to raise families, have careers, and make contributions. These stories are ultimately stories of people, their economies, and most vividly, their communities— which are then, by definition, stories of hope.

What can listeners expect from Season 1.5?

Across five episodes, Zip Code Economies Season 1.5 revisits some of the most memorable people featured in Season 1. The conversations center on how they’re processing the COVID-19 pandemic and recent social and racial injustices.

  • Paul Bains, East Palo Alto, California – Launching March 1, 2021
  • Will Unga, Salt Lake City, Utah – Launching March 8, 2021
  • Lahela Williams, Honolulu, Hawaii – Launching March 15, 2021
  • Luis Sanchez, Firebaugh, California – Launching March 22, 2021
  • Nefiso and Najmo Abdi, San Diego, California – Launching March 29, 2021

Will there be a full second season?

Yes! After spending its first season in California, Hawaii, and Utah, Season 2 of Zip Code Economies will travel to the remaining six states in the Twelfth District: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Where can I learn more about how the San Francisco Fed is working with communities like the ones featured in Zip Code Economies?

Visit to stay up to date on the latest news, research, and community development efforts from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Broadening the Scope

Zip Code Economies shares stories from places of opportunity – where people have come together to create a better life for each other and for future generations.

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco believes every community can – and should – be a place of opportunity. It’s good for individuals, institutions, and the overall health of the American economy.

We’re committed to identifying and reducing hurdles to economic inclusion, and ensuring people have access to the information and resources they need to succeed. As part of our community development, economic outreach, and education efforts, we:

  • Reach out to business and community leaders to understand the regional implications of economic policy.
  • Support first-generation college students and access to higher education.
  • Promote programs that strengthen the economic resiliency of individuals and communities.
  • Encourage the development of safe, healthy, and affordable housing.
  • Conduct research and analysis into how economic conditions and policies affect communities.
  • Help educators and students understand real-life applications of economics and personal finance.
  • Bring stakeholders together to implement ideas that foster inclusive economic growth.
  • Engage with banks and other investors to maximize economic opportunity and ensure fair access to credit under the Community Reinvestment Act.

You can learn more about the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's work at

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