COVID-19 has brought attention to various disparities in American cities and the growing divide between rich and poor. While many strategies have been proposed to close the wealth gap – raising minimum wage, housing integration and education – it’s generally agreed that a simple solution does not exist.
The University of Illinois Chicago’s 2021 Urban Forum, titled “Closing the Wealth Gap,” will take on the complex matter of closing the wealth gap by focusing on equity during a virtual program scheduled April 14 from 9 a.m. – noon.
The program will begin with a visual presentation from Amanda Williams, a Chicago-based visual artist and trained architect whose creative practice employs color as an operative means for drawing attention to the complex ways race informs how we assign value to the spaces we occupy.
The keynote address will be delivered by Heather McGhee, author of the New York Times best-seller, “The Sum of Us,” and board chair for Color Of Change, a national online racial justice organization.
Program speakers, panels and papers will help consider how citizens and policymakers can collectively begin to change and address barriers and build off of successful strategies to increase equity in communities by addressing the historical and structural barriers that are a source of the gap.
The conversations are slated to deal with racial dynamics that shape social, economic and political structures; property ownership that affects wealth across different populations; and the geographic distribution of public services and land use.
“How should we increase spatial equity?” is the first panel of the 2021 UIC Urban Forum and will feature Ciere Boatwright, vice president, real estate and inclusion for the Chicago Neighborhood Initiative; Amy Turnbull Khare, research director at the National Initiative on Mixed Income Communities and research assistant professor in the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Science at Case Western Reserve University; and Robin Rue Simmons, Evanston 5th Ward alderman.
The event’s second panel, “How Can We Change Investment in Our Communities to Increase Equity?” will include Daniel Ash, associate vice president, community impact, for Chicago Community Trust; Juanita Irizzary, executive director of Friends of the Parks; and Amy McEwan, chief of staff at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.
Co-chairs of the 2021 UIC Urban Forum are Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board president, and Michael D. Amiridis, UIC Chancellor. Michael A. Pagano, dean of the UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, and Janet Smith, UIC professor of urban planning and policy and co-director of UIC’s Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement, serve as program directors.
This year’s Urban Forum is sponsored by the UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, UIC’s Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, and WBEZ 91.5.