Institute Focused on Improving Economic Opportunity Launched

Institute Focused on Improving Economic Opportunity Launched

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a $15 million grant in support of a policy institute focused on improving economic mobility and opportunity in America.

Announced by Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle, the grant will support Opportunity Insights, a partnership between economists from Harvard and Brown University. Founded by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, and John N. Friedman, the institute will conduct research on economic mobility and harness the power of big data to document both the fading of the American dream and scalable policy solutions for reviving it.

The institute, which builds on the work of the Equality of Opportunity Project, has received additional support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Overdeck Family Foundation, and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

"We are launching Opportunity Insights now because the American dream of upward income mobility has faded out of reach for many Americans," said Chetty. "We are poised to work on reversing this trend because we have many new insights into the key drivers of economic mobility thanks to 'big data' and advances in scientific research. Our goal now is to take those insights and work collaboratively with stakeholders 'on the ground' to translate them into changes that will improve the lives of Americans in communities across the country."

"We've learned from our work in the U.S. and around the world that local, state, and national leaders need actionable information about the why of poverty to improve the lives of their citizens," said Desmond-Hellmann in a statement. "Having witnessed the power of data to make a difference when provided to those closest to the problems needing to be solved, we made Opportunity Insights one of the first investments of our new U.S. Economic Mobility and Opportunity program."