The U.S. still struggles to shake off its stubborn racial wealth gap, one that is most apparent when contrasting the total amount of assets owned by Black and white families. On average, Black families across the U.S. have only one-eighth the wealth when compared to white families, and that gap has actually widened in recent years. Meanwhile, it has been an ongoing challenge for leaders who support and fund programs that could boost Black families’ ability to build intergenerational wealth. The problem? Much of the data available that could help address this wealth disparity is incomplete or long outdated.
The impacts of the racial wealth gap in the U.S. are devastating. To start, family wealth provides economic cushions at times of need. Having that access to cash (or even a home equity line) can help a family through a rough economic patch. Wealth allows for investments in real estate and passive income streams such as equities, and the availability of such funds can pay for a child’s education or unexpected medical bills without turning to burdensome loans.
To that end, the nonprofit Prosperity Now has launched a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, a program focused on building wealth for Black families while taking on the lack of investment in Black communities throughout the U.S.
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Key to this partnership is the Black Wealth Data Center (BWDC), an initiative that seeks to narrow the racial wealth gap by providing relevant, nonpartisan, evidence-based information to policymakers and other leaders who are determined to design programs that could improve racial equity.
Plans for the BWDC includes the hosting of data sets with information on assets, debt, education, employment, home ownership and business ownership. With strong, relevant and reliable data, the BWDC can function as a resource for advocates and leaders to build better and evidence-based policymaking and investment choices — thereby chipping away at the wealth gap lingering across U.S. states and local communities.
“At Prosperity Now, we know firsthand that reversing centuries of economic inequities takes intentional, coordinated efforts aimed at dismantling structures that exclude people and rebuilding our economy from the ground up," Gary Cunningham, CEO and president of Prosperity Now, told TriplePundit in an email. "The BWDC underscores the importance of democratizing data, because the most effective solutions come from those most closely impacted by injustice. The Black Wealth Data Center is a significant advance for the field as it will help us unearth new ways to build wealth in Black families and ensure that we are using the most robust information and tools to create programs and policies that drive toward racial wealth equity,”
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Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.