Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative Launches New Racial Wealth Equity Database
New York, NY — Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative announced the launch of the Black Wealth Data Center (BWDC) which will host the new Racial Wealth Equity Database. The BWDC aims to empower decision-makers – including practitioners, elected officials at all levels, and philanthropists – as well as journalists, working to improve and chronicle economic opportunity by making it easier for them to find and analyze a wide range of factors correlated to economic well-being and progress by race. This new effort will also build a network for leaders and organizations working to create economic progress for Black families and communities. The BWDC is incubated by Prosperity Now, a leading nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. focused on advancing racial and ethnic economic justice.
On the Black Wealth Data Center’s website, visitors will use BWDC’s Racial Wealth Equity Database to interact with wealth data by topic (assets/debt, education, employment, homeownership, and business ownership), and compare wealth data by race (Black, Hispanic, Asian, White, Other or multiple races), sex, age, education attainment, and geographic area (state, county or zip code). Over the coming months, the BWDC will continuously add datasets and functionality to the database, looking for opportunities to offer new tools for the field to better interpret racial equity data. It will also convene leaders and host events about the power of data to help drive solutions for racial wealth equity.
The need for the BWDC was explained by Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City in January 2020 when he spoke in Tulsa, Oklahoma, launching the Greenwood Initiative, and addressed “the enormous obstacles that so many Black Americans have faced not only in creating wealth, but in passing assets to their children and grandchildren as generations of white families have done.” He said, “I believe that we have the power to build a future where color and capital are no longer related.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative is a national program focused on accelerating the pace of wealth accumulation for Black individuals and families and addressing systemic underinvestment in Black communities across the U.S. Through this initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies supports and works with leaders and organizations across the country to implement, scale, and advocate for efforts that increase economic and social mobility to reduce wealth disparities in Black communities.
“Leaders and organizations across the country have been challenged by the lack of accessible and high-quality data disaggregated by race – making it difficult to assess what’s working and not working in efforts to make America more equitable, what assets exist in Black communities, and what we need to do to effect change,” said Garnesha Ezediaro, who leads Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative. “With a commitment to continuously scan and integrate the best data into a comprehensive user-friendly source, the Black Wealth Data Center will be a resource for leaders who are working to ensure that data can be accessed more equitably, progress can be measured more precisely, and that change can come faster.”
The BWDC is led by Natalie Evans Harris, who brings nearly 20 years of experience advancing the public sector’s strategic use of data. She spent 16 years at the National Security Agency where she led an analytics development center and was a senior policy advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer in the Obama administration. Most recently, Natalie co-founded and served as the head of strategic initiatives of BrightHive, a data sharing platform for users to easily and securely connect data.
“I am thrilled to lead the Black Wealth Data Center, help leverage data and technology to expedite the accumulation of Black wealth and establish partnerships with practitioners and policymakers to power the path to equity,” said Natalie Evans Harris, executive director of the Black Wealth Data Center.
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative has partnered with Prosperity Now to incubate the Black Wealth Data Center because of its long legacy of work in racial economic justice rooted in data, research, and community building.
“For so long, those of us working to develop meaningful programs to address racial wealth inequities have had to use our organizations’ critical resources to search for and access needed data to support our work,” said Gary Cunningham, president and chief executive officer of Prosperity Now. “Prosperity Now is excited to incubate the Black Wealth Data Center. We hope it will serve as a resource for leaders seeking to solve racial wealth inequities for both the Black community and other groups who systematically experience wealth inequities.”
In order to lay the foundation for new data sources and to help contextualize the data, the BWDC is currently partnering with the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, the Urban Institute, and DataKind. BWDC will create additional partnerships with a specific focus on increasing the amount of local data in its database, incorporating data from private sources, and collaborating with existing data providers to strengthen data quality.
The Black Wealth Data Center is the most recent investment made by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, which was launched in September 2020. The first investment was a $100 million partnership with the nation’s four historically Black medical schools to help ease the debt burden of approximately 900 Black medical students. The second investment was more than $6 million to those four schools to increase their mobile unit COVID-19 vaccination efforts and help ensure equitable access to vaccines within Black communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The third investment was the Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative, a $150 million effort at Johns Hopkins devoted to addressing historic underrepresentation in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields by providing permanent funding for a sustained cohort of approximately 100 new slots for diverse PhD students in JHU’s more than 30 STEM programs. The Greenwood Initiative has also partnered on programs to help local leaders prioritize economic equity agendas through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Local Infrastructure Hub and the CityStart Program at Cities for Financial Empowerment.
To learn more about the Black Wealth Data Center and the database, visit blackwealthdata.org.