Diversity & Inclusion
Data / DEI / Economics

Prosperity Now just launched a data center to boost Black wealth

The data center launches today with information on education, employment, asset ownership, debt, household income, homeownership and the impact of the pandemic.

Gary Cunningham, Prosperity Now's president and CEO. (Courtesy photo)

Today, DC nonprofit Prosperity Now launched a brand new tool that it hopes will make a splash in the world of wealth equity.

In partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, Prosperity Now just introduced the Black Wealth Data Center to the public. Designed with policymaking in mind, the center will showcase comprehensive data on racial wealth disparities and the current issues impacting Black Americans every day. One such stark data point is that Black families, on average, have one-eight of the wealth of white families.

Currently, the center has figures on education, employment, asset ownership, debt, household income, homeownership and the impact of COVID-19. Gary Cunningham, president and CEO of Prosperity Now, noted that it builds on the organization’s Prosperity Now Scorecard and Racial Wealth Divide Initiative.

“This data center is really about: how do we create something that we can actually look at [so] we can measure and we can develop solutions to these long-standing issues of racial and economic injustice in America?” Cunningham told Technical.ly.

The data center is an independent organization within Prosperity Now, Cunningham clarified. That said, he feels that it aligns perfectly with the organization’s mission. While it will highlight data on Black Americans, he also noted that the center will have figures on every racial and ethnic group in the hopes of even wider use.

The data comes from the US Census, a working community survey and a few private sources with data that hasn’t been shared before, according to Cunningham. It also pulls from Small Business Administration and Paycheck Protection Program records as well as the Bureau of Labor Statistics. and much of its visualizations are inspired by the work of W.E.B. Du Bois.

The Black Wealth Data Center will also be constantly updated and, as it grows, will include personal stories from the community. It also hosts a resource library with case studies, academic articles and more information on racial wealth inequity.

“We’re really democratizing data,” Cunningham said. “We’re trying to create data in a way that people can actually print out a report and then use that report that same day to inform their legislators or inform people in the community about what the conditions are on the ground in this community.”

The center is largely designed for those seeking data to make or advocate policy changes. Still, Cunningham noted that the data can be a game-changer in several ways — for both policymakers and the actual communities impacted. This, Cunningham hopes, will offer a way to tell a more complete story about the lives of Black Americans.

“This is a long legacy of denied opportunity, segregation and discrimination that has led us to this point,” Cunningham said. “So this data will help us develop remedies based in fact. We’re hoping that this will be one of the tools that will be used to create an America that works equally well for everyone.”

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