Boston – The Boston Foundation today announced that Courtney Brunson has been hired as Director of the Greater Boston Partnership to Close the Racial Wealth Gap. The partnership, which was formed in late 2022, brings together dozens of top leaders from the nonprofit, government and business sectors, as well as analysts and researchers, to advance a shared agenda of expanding homeownership for people of color to close the racial wealth gap in Greater Boston.
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation has estimated that closing the racial wealth gap in Massachusetts could raise the state GDP by $25 billion over the next five years. Closing the racial wealth gap means more money in the system for everyone – regardless of race or ethnicity.
The Wealth Gap Partnership is made up of nearly three dozen leaders (full list available upon request), who began meeting in December to identify opportunities for investment and impact. The full group is divided further into working groups that are exploring core aspects of the homeownership gap, with an eye toward identifying and acting upon key levers of change. As Director, Brunson will coordinate and drive the partnership’s work, bringing forward existing and emerging research, policy measures and homeownership programs for the partnership’s consideration and support.
“On behalf of the members, I am pleased to welcome Courtney as the Wealth Gap Partnership’s first director,” said M. Lee Pelton, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “We start this work knowing two basic facts: that homeownership is the largest driver of wealth for most individuals and families in this country, and that Black, Latino and Asian families in many communities are far less likely to own their own homes than their White neighbors, even when you take income into account. By bringing together key leaders from across sectors under her guidance, we will activate this coalition and move to narrow a racial wealth gap that has systematically held back people of color for decades.”
Brunson comes to the role with experience in law and economic policy, having worked as the President of Harvard’s Legal Aid Bureau, a policy advisor for the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts and in the office of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, where she advanced the Senator’s priorities of investing in affordable housing, enforcing fair housing protections, and expanding homeownership opportunities. She joins the Partnership as the group shapes its strategies around increasing housing supply, expanding down payment assistance and improving mortgage access. The Partnership will also endeavor to change the narrative around the historical and present systemic causes and potential solutions to housing and wealth inequities in Greater Boston.
The partnership is one of several projects being convened or led by the Boston Foundation. Last month, Boston Indicators, the research center at the Boston Foundation, announced the launch of the Racial Wealth Equity Resource Center. Funded by the Barr Foundation, RWERC.org is a new website that curates and provides a home for new research and multimedia exploring racial wealth inequities in Greater Boston and across the country. Boston Indicators and the Boston Foundation are also planning a number of events throughout the Fall and into 2024 that will further explore many of the issues around the wealth gap. The Boston Foundation, the Barr Foundation, Eastern Bank Foundation and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce have also partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to produce an in-depth update to the Boston Fed’s 2015 Color of Wealth report.
“Our region is most prosperous when that prosperity is shared across all those who live and work here,” said Ron O’Hanley, Chairman and CEO of State Street, and a member of the partnership. “This work, and these conversations, can provide a powerful base from which we can develop systemic actions to address inequities that have been created over decades in our housing and capital markets.”
Brunson joined the Partnership on August 22nd.