Investment led by Margot Pritzker expands work at the Inclusive Economy Lab, building on the Pritzkers’ past philanthropic support to advance policy research that improves life in cities.

Margot L. Pritzker Fund has generously provided a gift of $10,000,000 over five years to the University of Chicago to support the continued growth and impact of the Inclusive Economy Lab, accelerating its efforts to generate the rigorous evidence needed to create greater economic opportunity for communities harmed by discrimination, disinvestment, and segregation.

The gift builds on The Pritzker Foundation’s transformative investment in 2015 to establish a network of five urban labs, including the Inclusive Economy Lab (formerly known as the Poverty Lab). Housed at the Harris School of Public Policy, the University of Chicago Urban Labs – spanning issues of crime, education, health, energy and environment, and economic opportunity – advance an innovative, partnership-based approach to designing and testing promising policies and programs that generate large-scale positive social change in Chicago and beyond.

Dean Katherine Baicker

“Harris is deeply appreciative of the Pritzkers’ enduring commitment to the urban labs and the future growth and impact of the Inclusive Economy Lab,” said Katherine Baicker, dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor at Harris Public Policy. “Since its founding, the Inclusive Economy Lab has grown to become a trusted partner to policymakers, nonprofit organizations, and communities, bringing scientific rigor to community-informed, partner-driven research into how to create an economy in which all Chicagoans can thrive.”

With long-term community partnerships in place and multiple research initiatives underway that are poised to reveal vital insights in the months and years ahead, the Inclusive Economy Lab is positioned to enter a new phase of growth and impact. The support from the Pritzkers will fund critical investments in the Lab’s organizational infrastructure and capacity for conducting and disseminating research that pinpoints the most effective programs for expanding economic opportunity, along with its capacity to scale them in Chicago and beyond.

“We have long believed in the power of applied policy research to improve society, investing in solutions to support inclusive and equitable community development, employment practices, and access to capital,” said Margot Pritzker.  Reflecting on the origins of the idea, Tom Pritzker added, “Several years ago, Bob Zimmer came to us with a nascent idea that grew into the UChicago Urban Labs. From our perspective, his idea of applying data to social challenges held great potential to make a difference to society. We have now seen this idea in action, and we are proud to support the next phase of the Inclusive Economy Lab’s development and its continued impact in creating real economic opportunity for all communities.”

Marianne Bertrand, Chris P. Dialynas Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and Willard Graham Faculty Scholar

“A lack of economic opportunity remains a reality for far too many Chicagoans, particularly in Black and brown communities,” said Marianne Bertrand, the Pritzker Director of the Inclusive Economy Lab and Chris P. Dialynas Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “The Pritzkers’ gift will provide sustained investment in our work to test and scale the most promising research-driven solutions with our partners, upend intergenerational poverty and build a more inclusive economy for future generations.”

In its first six years, the Inclusive Economy Lab has partnered with local organizations and policymakers to evaluate programs with the potential to improve lives in four main areas: college and career success, housing stability, financial security, and quality jobs. Working with One Million Degrees to evaluate their approach to improving community college graduation rates, the Lab found that student participants were 35 percent more likely to enroll full time and 47 percent more likely to persist to the next term during their first year. With Chicago Public Schools, the Lab is looking at how housing instability affects students’ academic outcomes and helping to identify promising approaches to support students experiencing homelessness. They also are working with the Chicago Department of Housing to inform new policies aimed at averting a potential housing crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gift will accelerate the efforts of the Inclusive Economy Lab by expanding its infrastructure and capacity to launch new programs in three related areas:

  • Empowering people by providing foundational stability: includes exploring cash assistance programs, methods for addressing housing instability, and ways to better understand the financial health of Chicago communities.
  • Creating pathways to quality jobs: includes exploring more equitable access to higher education as well as alternative pathways to quality jobs, including new models of training and employer-labor relations.
  • Tackling systemic barriers and exclusion head on: includes addressing explicit discrimination, such as residential segregation or bias in the labor market, as well as seemingly race-neutral policies that reinforce historic inequities, such as requiring collateral for a small business loan.

“With this transformative gift, the Lab seeks to accelerate our progress in driving systemic change in cities by working to empower people through financial stability, create pathways to quality jobs, and tackle exclusion head-on,” said Carmelo Barbaro, executive director, Inclusive Economy Lab. “Our goal is to fix the systems that perpetuate poverty and expanding our work in these areas will ensure that our efforts address the root causes of inequality in our society.”

In addition to accelerating the Lab’s essential work in these three areas, the Pritzkers’ support provides crucial seed funding for a new endowment that will help sustain the Lab’s efforts for years to come and empower its researchers and partners to boldly pursue new projects and innovative approaches – based on rigorous evidence – to create greater economic opportunity in our society.

About the Inclusive Economy Lab

Founded in 2015, The University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab conducts rigorous research that expands economic opportunity for people harmed by discrimination, disinvestment and segregation. The Lab partners with policymakers, community-based organizations and others to identify their most urgent and pressing challenges, co-generate evidence about what works, and translate findings into policy changes that end intergenerational poverty. One of five University of Chicago Urban Labs based at the Harris School of Public Policy, the Inclusive Economy Lab is led by Pritzker Director Marianne Bertrand, Chris P. Dialynas Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the Booth School of Business. To learn more, visit