LEO's statement on racial injustice

Author: Leigh Lynes

In the past weeks we have grieved along with the nation about the racism that exists in our country, the traumatic pain it causes, and the hopelessness felt as senseless deaths like George Floyd’s happen time after time. We hear and join the cries for justice and change.

LEO was founded to address a major flaw in the way that anti-poverty programs and policies were operating throughout our country—most lack evidence of effectiveness and that flaw adds to the injustice felt most deeply by people in poverty. The most vulnerable members of our society deserve better, and better means giving them programs and policies that work. At LEO, we are driven by our core belief in the inherent dignity of all people and we are dedicated to rigorous, unbiased research that identifies innovative, effective, and scalable programs that help people move permanently out of poverty.

The evil of racism impacts everything, and we see it show up in our work, as Black Americans are disproportionately impacted in all areas that intersect with poverty—criminal justice, education, health, housing, upward mobility, and foster care. Systemic racism in our society is finally being acknowledged more broadly and with great impetus for change. We will use our expertise to play a part in the change that is needed to reduce poverty, support families, and empower communities that have been oppressed by systemic racism in America.  

As we work to change our society, we must acknowledge and address the disparities within our own walls, both at LEO and in our profession. We recognize that it is up to us to challenge ourselves internally. We will engage external voices from our providers, academia, policymakers, and philanthropy to guide our learning and we will form a working group on racial disparities in research and practice to move us to action. We can and will do better.