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Can College Level the Playing Field? Higher Education in an Unequal Society

Join the Urban Institute for a conversation about the role of higher education in reducing inequality in a society in which children grow up in dramatically unequal environments and adults face different labor market opportunities depending on their race, gender, and socioeconomic background. The discussion will focus both on improving access to and success in higher education and on public policies that address unequal environments from early childhood onward. 



  • Rekha Balu, Director of Federal Equity Initiatives and Co–Vice President for Race and Equity Research, Urban Institute 
  • Sandy Baum, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Urban Institute 

  • Michael McPherson, President Emeritus, Spencer Foundation; Nonresident Senior Fellow, Urban Institute 

  • David Wessel, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, Brookings Institution

  • David Leonhardt, Senior Writer, New York Times (moderator)




Check-in begins at 3:30 p.m. EDT. A Reception will follow from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, including one booster shot, is required to attend this event in-person. Please be prepared to show proof of your vaccinations upon arrival.

Support for this event is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more information on the Urban Institute’s funding principles, go to

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. Please email [email protected] if you require any accommodations or have any questions about this event. 

Date & Time Thursday, July 7, 2022
Urban Institute 500 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington , DC , 20010
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  • Director of Federal Equity Initiatives
    Co-Vice President
  • Nonresident Senior Fellow
  • Nonresident Senior Fellow