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Harnessing the Power of Data to Advance Racial Wealth Equity with Black Wealth Data Center
September 27, 2022

The wealth gap between Black and White Americans, an important measure of inequality, has been worsening since the 80s. After the rapid wealth concentration we saw during the pandemic, the gap is growing even faster. In 2019, Black American households held only one-sixth the wealth of White American households.

DataKind partnered with the Black Wealth Data Center to create a new, easy-to-use data resource: blackwealthdata.org.  

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Comprehensive data is essential to tackle tough societal challenges, and racial wealth inequality is no exception. 

To address racial wealth disparities in the U.S., we must fully understand the problem and increase accessibility to the relevant data. Black wealth data can unlock solutions to solve our nation’s racial wealth inequities. Unfortunately, there are significant gaps in Black wealth data. Often, it’s hidden behind paywalls, scattered across numerous resources, out of date, incomplete, or outright missing—making data on Black wealth not only difficult to find but also difficult to assess without consistent definitions and ways to visualize datasets. 

So, how can leaders make investment decisions and fund programs to grow Black wealth in the U.S. with no conclusive knowledge that these efforts are working and can be effective at scale? 

Racial wealth equity will be more attainable when leaders create programs, policies, and strategies that are informed by data and take into account historical factors. Currently, it’s hard to know what’s working and not working, what assets exist in Black communities, and what needs to be done to effect change. Comprehensive and up-to-date Black wealth data will show leaders where and how to invest to disrupt systemic inequities and generate sustained Black wealth accumulation. 

That’s where Black Wealth Data Center (BWDC) comes in. BWDC is on a mission to empower  decision makers—including practitioners, elected officials at all levels, philanthropists, and 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. 

We partnered with BWDC on their newly released, first of its kind Racial Wealth Equity Database, drawing from dozens of different data sources and producing more than 30 visualizations to transform data into actionable insights. 

On BWDC’s website, visitors can now use the database to interact with wealth data by topic (assets and 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). 

At DataKind, we’re honored to harness the power of data to help drive solutions for racial wealth equity. We’re looking forward to working with BWDC to expand their comprehensive repository for Black wealth data and raising the national standard for data collection and accessibility. 

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DataKind has worked previously with other indexing tools, notably the Foreclosure and Eviction Analysis Tool (FEAT) with New America’s Future of Land and Housing Program, using local data to drive housing loss decision making. For more information on FEAT, check out the impact stories, user guide, FAQ, and more here.

Over the coming months, BWDC will add datasets and functionality to the database, looking for opportunities to offer new tools for the field to better interpret racial equity data. The BWDC was conceived and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, a program aimed at increasing generational wealth and addressing systemic underinvestment in Black communities. The Greenwood Initiative conceptualized BWDC to help address the problem of insufficient and inaccessible data on the topic of Black wealth. Prosperity Now serves as the host and incubator of the BWDC, building on its long history and legacy of work in racial economic justice rooted in data, research, and community building.

To learn more about the BWDC and the Racial Wealth Equity Database, visit blackwealthdata.org.

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