Cook Center Awarded $3.4 Million in Grants for Second Phase of NASCC Studies

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The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University is thrilled to announce it has received a total of $3.4 million in grants from four institutions to support the second phase of its National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color (NASCC) surveys and analysis.

This research, taking place in five cities, will further the Cook Center’s robust understanding of racial and ethnic wealth inequality across the United States, particularly with regards to the connection between the wealth gap and rates of entrepreneurship in various communities as well as the racially disparate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This evolution of the NASCC project represents an exciting collaboration between the Cook Center and a number of partners from various sectors. Significant financial support for this phase has come from the MetLife Foundation, the JPB Foundation of New York, Walmart through the Center for Racial Equity, and the city of Durham, North Carolina.

“We are thrilled to be able to collaborate with these organizations and have their support in building upon the first NASCC phase and continuing to study the racial wealth gap across America,” said William A. “Sandy” Darity Jr., the founding director of the Cook Center and the Samuel DuBois Cook professor of public policy, African and African American studies, and economics at Duke.

“In addition to comprehending these disparities, the Cook Center aspires to offer policy solutions that will meaningfully alleviate inequality,” said Gwendolyn L. Wright, director of strategic initiatives at the Cook Center. “The continuation and expansion of the NASCC project is a major step forward, and these partnerships reflect the widespread desire for such solutions.”

The first round of NASCC surveys, conducted in the mid-2010s, asked participants a detailed series of questions to document racial differences in asset and debt accumulation, income, intergenerational asset transfers, and net worth at the household level.

Results from these surveys formed the backbone of the Cook Center’s “Color of Wealth” reports, which offered an unprecedented look at the depths of racial wealth inequality in Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Tulsa, and Washington, D.C. Among other findings, the “Color of Wealth” helped highlight an astonishing disparity in Boston: that while the median household wealth for a white family in Boston was nearly $250,000, the median household wealth for a (non-immigrant) black family in the city was just $8.

“The data from the original NASCC project were widely used by community foundations, think tanks, local governments, and the media to frame key issues, elevate promising approaches, and build support for strategic investments,” said Mark Harris, Senior Program Officer of Community and Worker Power at the JPB Foundation.

The latest NASCC survey will explore the racial wealth gap in these cities following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to provide an understanding of how the pandemic has affected small business development in different geographies. Surveys will be conducted in one city from the first NASCC cohort, Washington, D.C., as well as four new cities — Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, and Durham, North Carolina.

“The City of Durham recognizes impacts of historical intersections of race, class, and the likelihood of compounding generational influences on its residents. The strategic aim to strengthen the communities it represents is critical to the work of equity, justice, and cumulative ability to create opportunities that expand quality of life for residents,” said Victoria W. Samayoa, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Grants Manager for Budget of Management Services in the city of the Durham. “It is incredibly fortunate and fortuitous that the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding allows for an unparalleled chance to deepen acceleration of tangible projects that target gaps in support and resources to be sure the City forges ahead tenaciously in its desire to create excellence with quality to support the foundations that create that.”

The Cook Center will conduct its research in these five cities in collaboration with local nonprofits, partner institutions, and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The second round of NASCC surveys will take place throughout 2024 and 2025. As part of its analysis of survey results, the Cook Center plans to generate evidence-based recommendations for supporting small businesses to share with municipal leaders.

“The JPB Foundation seeks to help people who have been denied power to build it, so they can change unjust systems and create a more democratic, inclusive, and sustainable society,” said Harris. “The NASCC project is important as it has the potential to develop a model for deep local engagement around strategies to ensure the benefits of economic growth over the next several years are shared equitably and don’t deepen existing disparities.”

For more information on the Cook Center’s “Color of Wealth” series, please view the Center’s website here.