Connecting state and local government leaders
The Black Wealth Data Center consolidates different data sets to allow users to compare inequities across their communities and the nation.
A tool launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative Thursday aims to provide better access to data about racial wealth inequities in the United States.
With interactive maps and graphs, the Black Wealth Data Center, or BWDC, allows users to compare data across race, sex, education and location and explore topics including employment, homeownership, assets and debt.
The Greenwood Initiative is a national program that aims to accelerate “the pace of wealth accumulation for Black individuals and families and addressing systemic underinvestment in Black communities across the U.S,” according to a release from the organization.
The BWDC website allows users to sift through data on a national level or dive into specific zip codes, making it a powerful tool to help elected officials better understand their communities and constituencies, the center’s executive director Natalie Evans Harris told Route Fifty.
Data about race and ethnicity has long been difficult to access in part because the data sets sit in many different places and collection standards vary across organizations, Evans Harris said. Working with several sets is important to better understand the challenge of racial wealth inequity, she added.
“What we do know is that no one or two data sets alone can tell the full comprehensive story, especially when you're talking about something like racial wealth,” Evans Harris said.
The BWDC also hosts a resource library with articles, reports and case studies focused on improving racial wealth equity.
“The power in our work is not just being able to provide data out there, but that people use it and use it to improve the conditions and advance racial wealth equity,” Evans Harris said.
Over the last few years, there’s been an increased focus on addressing racial inequities in the United States, including racial wealth inequities, said Garnesha Ezediaro, who leads the Greenwood Initiative.
“And so we saw an opportunity to help become this resource and provide more access to data that will help inform decision making around where to invest [and] what opportunities there would be to scale programs or policy or initiatives,” she told Route Fifty.
Government officials and other organizations are often working with limited resources and time, and Ezediaro said she hopes BWDC will allow them to do research and analysis that would otherwise take hours, days or weeks to conduct.
Prosperity Now, a nonprofit that aims to advance racial and ethnic economic justice, is incubating the BWDC.
“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, in a statement.
The tool’s launch coincides with the federal government’s efforts to update its standards for collecting, reviewing and maintaining data about race and ethnicity. On Thursday, the Office of Budget and Management held its first public listening session as officials move to revise the standards, which have not been updated since 1997.
These steps will continue to help the BWDC’s mission of providing more insight into racial wealth inequalities, Evans Harris said.
“Once that happens, then you'll start to see more aggregation of data and increased accessibility to different data sets, which will allow us to create that more holistic and nuanced picture,” she said.
The BWDC partners with the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, the Urban Institute, and DataKind to source data.
Molly Bolan is an assistant editor for Route Fifty.
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