Statement Statement of Urban Institute President Sarah Rosen Wartell and Senior Vice President Kimberlyn Leary on Recent Decisions by the Supreme Court
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During its most recent term, the Supreme Court issued several decisions that, in our view1 based on the best available evidence, will impede and reverse long-delayed progress on becoming a more inclusive and equitable society. Many members of our community at the Urban Institute are hurt and raw, feeling that their experiences, backgrounds, and identities are not valued in our society at the highest levels. Many are infuriated that, despite America’s original sin and centuries of institutionalized hate, the systemic barriers still faced by so many are once again ignored, overt discrimination against LGTBQ+ people in commerce is sanctioned, and access to health care and bodily autonomy is restricted. 

Yesterday, many of Urban’s leaders of color, including Kim, proudly shared with some of their colleagues their own stories of how affirmative action had helped them or members of their families overcome pervasive and persistent barriers to upward mobility and opportunity. Each is a case study of talent flourishing because someone opened a door wider, in recognition of the fact that all too often the playing field was simply not level.

At the Urban Institute, our purpose is to equip changemakers with the evidence and solutions to create a future where every person and every community has the opportunity and power to thrive. To this end, some of us study the legacy of official segregation and discrimination and the systems and structures that perpetuate and reinforce their consequences today; and we seek to offer insights and solutions to help policymakers and other institutions across society to dismantle barriers to opportunity and close the obscene equity gaps pervasive across our society. As the pursuit of these objectives becomes increasingly difficult, our resolve to deploy our analytic powers to advance this purpose only grows. 

In education, we will deploy data and evidence to help higher education reimagine admissions; help towns and cities build communities of opportunity, with diverse neighborhoods and schools to produce more equitable student outcomes; help increase college affordability; and close gaps in student success and completion. We will study and spread evidence-based practices that enable LGBTQ+ communities, people with disabilities, communities of color, and those from backgrounds of persistent poverty to overcome barriers to their economic and social inclusion.

There are many ways to make change. This moment requires exceptional creativity, fresh ideas for how to dismantle barriers to opportunity, and a deep understanding of the experiences of every American in order to create liberty and justice for all. We believe in the power of knowledge to help make that promise a reality.


Sarah Rosen Wartell, President

Kimberlyn Leary, Senior Vice President

The Urban Institute takes no institutional positions. Our experts are free to offer their own independent perspectives when informed by and grounded in evidence. These views are our own.


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The Urban Institute podcast, Evidence in Action, inspires changemakers to lead with evidence and act with equity. Co-hosted by Urban President Sarah Rosen Wartell and Executive Vice President Kimberlyn Leary, every episode features in-depth discussions with experts and leaders on topics ranging from how to advance equity, to designing innovative solutions that achieve community impact, to what it means to practice evidence-based leadership.