Around the world and across the United States, unjust social stratification harms individuals and communities. To Black people and other people of color, to women, to immigrants, to Indigenous peoples, and to many others with social identities deemed different from socially defined dominant groups, society offers reduced wealth, increased discrimination, more violence, inadequate healthcare, fewer protections, and less economic, cultural, and political power. Social stratification and related belief systems — starting with race, racism, and racial resentment — prevent humane, just, moral decision making. They deter investments in common goods. They threaten democracy itself.

Inequalities that have formed over centuries cannot be undone with small ideas. Structural problems can only be solved with transformational ideas grounded in rigorous research. The Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy advances research to understand structural inequalities and works to identify groundbreaking ways to promote equity. A premier cross-disciplinary hub, the Institute draws on faculty across The New School in New York City, which has long fostered innovative thinking about power, structure, design, politics, economics, and society. The Institute engages with researchers and practitioners, including community and business leaders, policymakers, philanthropists, and journalists across the nation and around the world. Read more >>

How We Work

Building relationships beyond academia. Research matters most when it’s useful to and used by practitioners. Through collaborations, researchers learn which research questions and approaches are most valuable to practitioners. Practitioners, in turn, gain access to new research, evidence, and perspectives which they can use to inform their work and make better decisions. As a convener and supporter of partnerships and relationships, the Institute aims to connect researchers to leaders in civil society — members of community organizations, policymakers, workers groups, business leaders, philanthropists, journalists, and activists — to take on society’s most troubling inequities. 

Advancing knowledge, measurement, theory, and methodology. To be addressed effectively, problems must first be understood. Ways to measure progress must be identified. New theory must be developed, building on and critiquing past work. The Institute aims to house innovative research teams that will make new contributions to theory and methods, create  measurements, and release findings that will help everyone see inequity more clearly than ever before.

Identifying, testing, and scaling transformative solutions. From Baby Bonds to a Federal Job Guarantee to innovations that have not yet been developed, the Institute supports imaginative, bold ideas to shift policy and practice so that government, business, and nonprofit entities can advance equity in large-scale and measurable ways. As a research lab, the Institute works to put these ideas on the public agenda — and collaborates with partners on pilot projects, implementation, measurement, evaluation, and taking successes to scale.

Fostering a new generation of scholars. Too much scholarship has pathologized inequity, blaming, for example, Black people or women for failing to take advantage of opportunities to which, in truth, they never actually had equal access. One reason for this is the deplorable lack of diversity among scholars, a problem compounded by inequities in power and resources in academic institutions. The Institute aims to support the success and empowerment of scholars, especially scholars who are Black, Latino, other people of color, women, Indigenous people, or those who hold other social identities subordinated by dominant groups. Further, the Institute aims to be part of conversations about ways academic institutions that too often perpetuate and exacerbate inequalities can transform themselves into engines of equity.

The Institute on Race Power and Political Economy was founded in 2021 to understand and advance economic inclusion, civic engagement, and equity. The Institute provides the intellectual and physical space to cultivate innovative policies, strategies, and investments that break down restrictive hierarchies, empower people, and move society toward greater social equity by fusing insights from multiple disciplines to improve our understanding of the causes, consequences, and remedies associated with racial, ethnic, gender, and other forms of stratification in a host of domains including education, employment, criminal justice, health, housing, environment, asset accumulation, and other vital sectors across regional, national, and international landscapes.


We are grateful to the organizations below, which have generously provided financial support to the Institute and its research:

  • Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Inc.
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Brookings
  • Carnegie Corporation of New York
  • Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation
  • Ford Foundation
  • Japanese Community Youth Council & San Francisco Human Rights Commission
  • JP Morgan Chase Foundation
  • Marguerite Casey Foundation
  • National Urban League
  • Omidyar Network
  • Open Society Foundation
  • Policy Link
  • Polk Bros. Foundation
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Robin Hood
  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • The California Endowment
  • The Chicago Community Trust
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • The Rockefeller Foundation
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Wellspring Philanthropic Fund