In partnership with the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, the Roosevelt Institute evaluated two decades of the Ford Foundation’s grant-making that centers the racial wealth gap (RWG) and provided recommendations for how the philanthropic sector can more effectively address the issue.
Roosevelt Fellows Andrea Flynn and Rakeen Mabud find that Ford’s work on the RWG has, by many measures, been successful. Ford’s work dramatically enhanced the field’s understanding of the racial dimensions of wealth inequality and the extent to which that inequality is borne out of a web of structural issues. Ultimately, the lessons learned from Ford’s extensive grant-making on the RWG will be critical for future efforts.
Despite advances in our understanding of such a complex problem, numerous gaps remain in addressing racial wealth inequities. The philanthropic sector largely continues to primarily approach the issue through an asset-building lens—focusing on individual savings behavior—rather than from a perspective that addresses the historical and systemic racial exclusions that prevented families of color from building wealth over many generations. Additionally, the field, comprising policymakers, advocates, academics, and the philanthropic sector, lacks a comprehensive set of solutions for both closing the racial wealth gap and increasing wealth for families and communities of color. As Flynn and Mabud show, there are great opportunities, particularly in the current political environment, for the philanthropic sector to advance this work by investing in further research and advocacy around solutions that will effectively address wealth inequities.