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How do our 2022 Global Challenges Intersect with Racial Inequity in the US?

Communities of color are responsible for myriad aspects of modern culture, often with minimal recognition due to widespread cultural appropriation. They have endured and built prosperous communities across the US despite a long history of systemic racism, oppression, and discrimination. Often left out of decision-making as regards their own futures, solutions to problems facing communities of color still today can be paternalistic and harmful. Solve believes that providing space and power for proximate solutions developed by and for communities of color is paramount in advancing racial equity and solving the key issues these communities face. As a result, Solve is integrating US racial equity across our 2022 Global Challenges by launching the Black & Brown Innovators in the US program. This special call is looking for 1-2 US-focused solutions led by Black or Brown innovators who are addressing each of our 2022 Global Challenges. The deadline for submission is March 31, 2022 and thanks to our generous funders, Solve has over $1.3 million in funding to date for selected Solver teams including those who will be selected through the Black & Brown Innovators in the US program.

As we launch this new program, we wanted to highlight some of the historical forces and current inequities that shape the US context for these Challenges. 

Care Economy

Black and Hispanic women make up 40% of childcare workers, and their median wage is half of white women in the broader economy. Even as the overall need for care and staffing shortages continue to rise, these professionalsparticularly women of colorcontinue to endure stagnant low wages despite the demand. In addition to an undervalued workforce, the overall childcare sector has experienced major increases in cost. As a result, many families already burdened with the pandemic have felt the strain of a widened inequality gap. Care economy solutions can help directly improve economic prospects for women of color, while separately giving communities more high-quality care options to allow them to pursue non-care goals. 

Equitable Health Systems

In the US, communities of color are more likely to have worse health outcomes, higher mortality rates, and greater mistrust in the health system in comparison to their white counterparts. While some of this results from social determinants of health that affect particular people of color, historical and contemporary manifestations of racial discrimination and bias further impede the life span and quality of life for people of color. The result of this structural racism is that Black and Brown communities receive lower quality medical care than their white counterparts. To support equitable health systems across the US, it is critical to support culturally responsive solutions and innovations for health systems that better serve communities of color, rebuild trust, and give everyone access to health.

Re-engaging Learners

Black and Brown communities face disproportionate barriers to accessing and receiving a good education, with underfunded school districts, limited afterschool programs, and over- policing as some of the contributing factors. One out of three Black, Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native households did not have access to wireless broadband internet and/or devices during the Covid-19 pandemic, which further exacerbated learning disparities when schools were closed. Further, the pandemic coupled with ongoing visibility of Black and Brown people killed by police or vigilantes has affected the mental health of students of color at a higher rate than their white counterparts. Imagine what Black and Brown students would be able to achieve if we supported solutions that removed these obstacles.    

Climate: Ecosystems + Housing

Black and Brown communities across the US have faced major examples of system racism when it comes to housing and environmental systems, such as redlining, removing communities from land, and building highways that razed thriving neighborhoods. Communities of color still have fewer affordable options, and pay at least 20% more on energy bills than their white counterparts. Older or more affordable homes are often far less efficient for reasons including poor insulation and outdated heating systems. Unfortunately, while there are clear paybacks for investing in efficiency and upgrades to create a safer and cleaner environment, upfront costs become burdensome and often are poorly served by local, state, and federal energy efficiency incentive programs. As part of a broader effort for equitable housing and climate justice, we need community-led solutions to provide the right tools for people of color to determine their future and that of their communities. 

Solutions from BIPOC communities, as seen in Solve’s Indigenous Communities Fellowship and the 2021 Antiracist Technology in the US Solver cohorts, are shining examples of blending technology and culturally-informed design to tackle big problems while also addressing inequities. We are excited to select, support and spotlight a new set of innovators across all of Solve’s 2022 Global Challenges. If you are working on a solution, or know an innovator, submit it to one of these Challenges today.

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