Launched in June and led by Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities Ibram X. Kendi — a leading scholar of the history of racism and best-selling author of How To Be an Antiracist (2019) — the center will work to advance research-based policy innovation, data-driven educational and advocacy campaigns, and narrative-change initiatives with the goal of "building an antiracist society that ensures equity and justice for all." Awarded through Dorsey's #startsmall LLC, the gift includes $9 million for an endowment and $1 million for immediate needs, including the hiring of staff and funding for research and policy teams focused on racial disparities in COVID-19 impacts.
Kendi's vision for the center calls for multidisciplinary research and policy teams from the fields of law, social work, the humanities, computer science, communications, and medicine and public health. In turn, those experts will collaborate with researchers from other universities as well as data analysts, journalists, advocates, and policy experts. Among other things, the center plans to expand its COVID Racial Data Tracker into a Racial Data Tracker (RDT), with the goal of creating the nation's largest online repository of racial inequity data.
Dorsey, who launched #startsmall in April with an initial pledge of $1 billion, has committed nearly $200 million in support of COVID-19 response efforts, racial and social justice initiatives, and health and education, including recent gifts of $5 million to Khan Academy and $1 million each to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Prison Policy Initiative.
"What's incredible about this gift is that it allows us to begin scaling the size of our center extremely quickly so that we can begin responding to and studying racism," said Kendi. "But we still need to raise a lot more in order to make the difference that we are striving for. We are going to be engaged for decades in high-quality multidisciplinary research, critical policy and narrative change work, and lending our support to antiracist advocacy. That all necessitates a large staff, a community of well-funded researchers, and a lot of resources."