JPMorgan Chase Invests $1.5M to Create an Equity Design Institute for Women of Color
Zora’s House, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, and Columbus College of Art & Design are lead partners in equitable design initiative
COLUMBUS, Ohio – August 17, 2022—JPMorgan Chase has announced a $1.5 million systems-change investment to fund an equity design institute for women of color, an initiative to embed designing for equity into the core of the Columbus community’s economic development efforts. The organization will be headquartered at Zora’s House, a local coworking space and leadership incubator for women of color, and will leverage design thinking to shift power dynamics so that the expertise, perspective, and lived experiences of women of color lead the development and implementation of innovative solutions to some of the community’s most challenging disparities.
Women of color are the fastest-growing population in Franklin County, yet Black and Latina women closest to our city’s economic inequities—and with immense lived experience navigating obstacles to economic wellbeing—are often excluded from the processes, powerbrokers, and resources to solve economic challenges.
“Women of color are the backbone of our economy – as consumers, homeowners, entrepreneurs, business owners, heads of households, and so much more,” said Corrine Burger, Columbus location leader for JPMorgan Chase. “With this investment, we are eager to create an initiative that empowers more women of color to lead and design Columbus’s economic development efforts in order to help strengthen Ohio communities and create a more inclusive economy for all.”
Such disparities do not only impact women of color. According to the JPMorgan Chase Institute, supporting the wealth creation and economic success of low- and moderate-income Black and Latina women is foundational to building more equitable and inclusive communities for all. For example, The Federal Reserve estimates if gender and racial gaps were closed, the 2005–2019 Ohio Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would have increased by $67 billion.
“Without women of color engaged in creating solutions, ineffective programs and policies are funded and implemented,” said LC Johnson, founder of Zora’s House. “This is a true systems-change investment that will start at the root cause of how decisions are made, and is a critical step toward designing a city that hears, responds to, and implements a vision of economic prosperity designed by those most impacted by obstacles.”
Within the institute’s first 24 months, two cohorts of women will come together to learn equity-centered design thinking techniques, which they will use to generate solutions to such pressing community issues such as childcare as a wealth decelerator for women of color. These cohorts will be taught by Lara Alsoudani Weeks, adjunct instructor, Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) and partner & art director, Fringe 22. Alongside this work, a stand-alone certificate in equity-centered design thinking will be created and offered through CCAD to both organizational participants and members of the general public.
“Iterative thinking and equitable design education are critical for removing barriers to economic success and ensuring women of color are at the table to shape solutions for the future,” said Jennifer Schlueter, associate provost & dean of academics, CCAD. “Our equity-centered design thinking certificate will provide much-needed formal resources to the community at large to solve problems in a creative and inclusive way, serving as a lever for social change at organizations across central Ohio.”
An equity catalyst fund will support promising collaborative ventures that come out of the equity design institute in phases of ideation, feasibility, planning, due diligence, and implementation. The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, longtime leader of social change and disruptive innovation in Columbus, will act as a fiduciary agent to manage and disperse granted funds for both short-term institute design and implementation and long-term financial sustainability.
“Social change is already happening in our community—this monumental grant demonstrates confidence in the people who are best equipped to accelerate the critical work of building an equitable city,” said Kelley Griesmer, president & CEO, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. “Allowing women of color to address the wealth barriers they face by designing economic solutions that imbed their lived experiences will help eliminate stark disparities that have existed for centuries.”
The investment will be a collaborative effort led by Zora’s House, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, and CCAD, in partnership with four additional organizations led by and serving women of color in the region: Affordable Housing Trust, Columbus Urban League, Women’s Center for Economic Opportunity, and YWCA Columbus.
About JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading financial services firm based in the United States of America (“U.S.”), with operations worldwide. JPMorgan Chase had $3.8 trillion in assets and $286.1 billion in stockholders’ equity as of June 30, 2022. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing and asset management. Under the J.P. Morgan and Chase brands, the Firm serves millions of customers in the U.S., and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients globally. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.
About Zora’s House Through innovative programming and shared community space, Zora’s House – the first and only coworking space and leadership incubator in Ohio created by and for women of color – works to ensure the full participation of Black women and other women of color in the civic, economic, and cultural life of our community. Since its founding in 2018, Zora’s House has helped over 3,000 women of color to connect with mental health resources; navigate job losses and other COVID-19 related transitions; incubate businesses; and activate their leadership in their families, neighborhoods, and workplaces.
About The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio is a public foundation whose mission is to transform the lives of women and girls by mobilizing the collective power and passion of all people working together. Our vision is a world where gender equity is the norm in work and life, and we are committed to creating social change through our trust-based investments in women and girls, our groundbreaking research, and our intersectional advocacy.
About Columbus College of Art & Design Columbus College of Art & Design teaches undergraduate and graduate students in the midst of a thriving creative community in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1879, CCAD is one of the oldest private, nonprofit art and design colleges in the United States. CCAD offers 11 BFA programs, a Master of Fine Arts, and a Master of Professional Studies in Retail Design that produce graduates equipped to shape culture and business at the highest level. For more information, visit ccad.edu.