Duke University receives funding to broaden study on racial and ethnic wealth disparities

Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity has been awarded $3.4 million in grants from four organizations to fund research on the post-pandemic racial wealth disparity in five U.S. cities, including Durham and Charlotte.

The additional cities being studied are Atlanta, Houston, and Washington, D.C. Over the span of 2024 and 2025, researchers aim to gain deeper insights into the impact of the pandemic on small business development in these regions, alongside analyzing racial and ethnic wealth inequality across the country.

This initiative will delve into the correlation between the wealth gap and entrepreneurship rates within different communities, as well as the differing effects of the COVID-19 crisis based on race.

Gwendolyn Wright (Duke University)

“In addition to understanding these disparities, the Cook Center aims to propose policy measures that can significantly reduce inequality,” said Gwendolyn L. Wright, director of strategic initiatives at the Cook Center. “The extension and enhancement of the NASCC [National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color] project marks a significant advance, and these partnerships demonstrate the widespread demand for such solutions.”

The Cook Center received substantial funding from the MetLife Foundation, the JPB Foundation of New York, Walmart via the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equality, and the City of Durham.

“We are excited to collaborate with these organizations and receive their backing to expand upon the first phase of NASCC and continue examining the racial wealth gap nationwide,” stated William A, “Sandy” Darity Jr., the founding director of strategic initiatives at the Cook Center.” “The extension and expansion of the NASCC initiative is a major step forward, and these partnerships reflect the widespread demand for solutions.”

Victoria W. Samayoa, American Rescue Plan Act Grants Manager for the City of Durham, emphasized the critical nature of the survey in equity and justice efforts, providing opportunities to enhance residents’ quality of life.

“We are fortunate to have the ARPA funding as it provides an exceptional opportunity to accelerate tangible projects that address support and resource gaps, ensuring the city progresses steadfastly towards creating quality excellence to support foundational elements,” Samayoa remarked.

Dr. William Darity (Duke University)
The initial round of NASCC surveys was conducted in mid-2010, where participants answered various questions to document disparities in household net worth, asset and debt accumulation, and the transfer of wealth across generations.

The findings formed the basis of the Cook Center’s “Color of Wealth” reports, which shed light on the extent of racial wealth inequality in Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Tulsa, and Washington, D.C. Among other revelations, the “Color of Wealth” reports exposed a shocking disparity in Boston: while the median household wealth for a white family in Boston was close to $250,000, it was a mere $8 for a Black family (non-immigrant) in the same city.

“The data from the original NASCC project had significant usage by community foundations, think tanks, local governments, and the media to outline key issues, highlight effective approaches, and garner support for strategic investments,” noted Mark Harris, senior program officer of Community and Worker Power at the JPB Foundation. For more details on the Cook Center’s “Color of Wealth” series, visit the Center’s website here.

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