Beginning in 2006 with a planning grant from the Ford Foundation, Dr. William Spriggs launched an effort focused on addressing the racial wealth gap. It included an initiative to train a new group of scholars to address wealth accumulation and asset building in low-income communities and communities of color. The Howard University Center on Race and Wealth (CRW)'s early activities included a Summer Institute for Research on Race and Wealth for junior researchers and networking with established scholars in the field. As the Ford Foundation's initiative, Building Economic Security over a Lifetime (BESOL), matured, Dr. Charles Betsey and Dr. Rodney Green led the CRW in broadening its mission to provide research and technical assistance to state and regional members of the asset-building coalition by enlisting experienced university-based researchers across the country to conduct studies that supported the work of Ford-funded grantees. The Center's activities led to research and policy initiatives at the state and local level to enhance asset building and reduce the racial wealth disparities. Dr. Janet Griffin-Graves served as the Center’s Program Director until 2020.
The mission of the Center on Race and Wealth is to enrich research, dialogue, and policy formation related to asset building, wealth accumulation, racial wealth disparities, racial disparities in law enforcement, poverty, and inequality. Recently CRW has been in cooperation with two leading centers, Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) and Center for Financial Security (CFS) of the University of Wisconsin in Madison in organizing workshops to increase the participation of researchers from under-represented groups in poverty, disability, and retirement research. A recent project that examines the racial and income equity impacts of DC housing programs has received funding from Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF).