Cambridge, MA—Harvard Kennedy School has received a $2.5 million gift from the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation to support new and ongoing work to address wealth concentration and the broader problems of inequality. The gift supports the research and outreach efforts at the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at the Kennedy School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, which serves as a nexus for work on inequality across the university. The program brings together Harvard faculty and PhD students from the social sciences who are exploring issues such as income inequality and wealth concentration, poverty and justice, opportunity and intergenerational mobility, and inequalities of race and place.

“The concentration of wealth in the hands of so few can hinder economic opportunity and mobility, social cohesion, and the political process in the United States and elsewhere,” says Douglas Elmendorf, dean and Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. “To make our economic system fairer, we will need to adopt policies that empower people who have been disadvantaged in economic or social terms to get a fair chance to succeed. Jim and Cathy Stone’s generosity will allow the Kennedy School to enhance its work on these crucial issues in the years ahead.”

The gift funds eight doctoral students each year, drawn from across Harvard University graduate schools and working on cutting-edge issues across the social sciences. In addition, it has been used to establish the Stone Senior Scholars program­­ which brings together 12 leading scholars of inequality who will contribute to a vibrant scholarship on issues relating to top-end inequality, economic opportunity, and public policy through visiting lectures and events; and to launch the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Lecture, a series of public lectures designed to bring greater awareness to this important challenge.

“The accelerating concentration of wealth at the pinnacle of the wealth distribution is not propitious for the wellbeing of our country,” says Jim Stone. “The concentration and sequestration of wealth at the top can interfere with economic growth and diminish the benefits of mobility. Excesses of concentration and hereditary wealth tend to weaken the middle class and dampen prospects for the poor. Just as important, this trend threatens to undermine the democratic pluralism in politics that has helped create this country’s impressive record of success. Cathy and I are pleased to support the efforts at the Kennedy School to examine issues of equity in the distribution of our society’s wealth and income.”

The inaugural Stone Lecture will be delivered by renowned economist Thomas Piketty on March 30 at Harvard Kennedy School’s John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum.

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About Harvard Kennedy School

Harvard Kennedy School aims to improve public policy and public leadership in the United States and around the world through research, teaching, and direct engagement with policymakers and public leaders. Roughly 20,000 alumni of the School’s degree programs and 50,000 people who have taken executive education courses at the School work in nearly every country. In addition, faculty, staff, and students of the School are currently undertaking projects to advance knowledge and strengthen public policy and leadership in dozens of countries. Around the world, the skills and energy of the Harvard Kennedy School community are dedicated to helping make people’s lives safer, freer, and more prosperous.

About the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation

The mission of the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation is to promote a more knowledgeable and inclusive society, with an emphasis on education, science, environmental sustainability, and the mitigation of economic inequality.

About Jim and Cathleen Stone

Jim Stone is the founder, chair, and CEO of the Plymouth Rock group of companies. He began his career teaching economics after earning a PhD at Harvard University. From 1975 to 1979, he served as the insurance commissioner for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and then served as chair and commissioner of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. He is a member of the Executive Committee of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a member of the Board of ProPublica, a former member of the board of the Boston Globe, former vice chair of Global Post, chair emeritus of Management Sciences for Health, and chair of EdVestors’ School on the Move Panel. Jim is the author of the bestselling book, Five Easy Theses: Commonsense Solutions to America’s Greatest Economic Challenges and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Cathleen Douglas Stone is president of the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Boston Harbor NOW, the Museum of African American History Boston and Nantucket, The Supreme Court Historical Society, WBUR Boston, The Wilderness Society, and the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. Cathy received her undergraduate degree from American University, her law degree from the Washington College of Law, and her Masters in Administrative Law from Georgetown University. In 1994, former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino appointed her as the City's first Chief of Environmental Services. Prior to serving in this role, she was a partner in the Boston law firm Foley, Hoag & Eliot. In 2017, Cathy received the Norman B. Leventhal Excellence in City Building Award.

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