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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
News & Media
Jul 17, 2019

Institute Insights: Enhancing the Lives of Black Communities

By Mark Little, Kenan Institute Managing Director and NCGrowth Director

On Sept. 9-11, 2019, the Kenan Institute will host the second Black Communities Conference, an international gathering of scholars and community leaders from across the African diaspora. The event is co-hosted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute of African-American Research. The conference’s core mission is to connect academics from a variety of disciplines with black communities, with the goal of enhancing the life of those communities. More than 700 attendees and presenters will gather to learn and share during approximately 250 presentations, ranging from short academic talks and panel discussions to workshops and film screenings.

The conference will cover a broad range of disciplines, including public health, history, community development and the environment. But the primary motivation for the Kenan Institute’s support of this important gathering remains the urgent and persistent need for economic development within black communities in the U.S., Caribbean and Africa. Conference advisory board member and Duke Professor Sandy Darity has pointed out the stark disparities in wealth for black individuals and families compared to the rest of the U.S. population, regardless of educational status. In our work here at the Kenan Institute, we have partnered with historic black communities to build cohesive economic development strategies, but many of the challenges these communities face beg for broader collaboration across disciplines, geographies and universities. We are excited about the potential for the Black Communities Conference to be the catalyst for new partnerships for the benefit of both knowledge creation and the economic success of black communities.

From the founding of the institute-associated Urban Investment Strategies Center in 1995 to the establishment of NCGrowth in 2012 to the birth of our newest venture, CREATE, this year, economic development research and practice has always been a critical component of how the Kenan Institute fulfills its mission. Among others, the growing inequality in American society and entrepreneurial approaches to poverty alleviation, job creation and community development have long been central themes of our work, and will continue to be for decades to come.

To learn more about the Black Communities Conference and to register, visit the website.

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