Count the Costs: Racial Inequity


A pillar bearing the Tulane shield

Read the recap of the Count the Costs Research Weekend

The Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business is collaborating with researchers from across the university to source community-focused research projects for Count the Costs Research Grants.

The initiative began in the spring of 2021 with a three-day workshop aimed at counting the costs of racial inequity in the United States. Twenty-nine research teams developed proposals during "Count the Costs Research Weekend" to investigate the barriers that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) experience in our society, the economic impact of those barriers and viable approaches to addressing them. At the end of the weekend, participants used their proposals to apply for one of five research grants to be awarded from a funding pool of $100,000. 

Academic partners for the event include the Murphy Institute, the Cowen Institute, the Taylor Center for Social Innovation, the Center for Public Service, the Mary Amelia Center for Women’s Health Equity Research and New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University.  The Lepage Center also collaborated with community partners including the Whitney Plantation and the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Impetus for "Count the Costs Research Weekend"

“Count the Costs Research Weekend” was motivated by findings from the 2020 Greater New Orleans Startup Report. For the past two years, the Lepage Center has surveyed more than 200 small businesses to gauge the region’s economic and entrepreneurial health. The 2020 survey found significant racial inequities between BIPOC-owned businesses and white-owned businesses in access to funding as well as outcomes such as revenue and profit margins.  

“These insights come directly from our own startup community,” said Rob Lalka, executive director of the Lepage Center. “When we see such inequities along racial lines, we’re witnessing historical and moral injustices — we know that. But there is more to the data, which we need to better understand. What would our GDP be, if we had invested more equitably? What innovations are we missing out on? We want to find out the answers to those questions, and many others like them, because that knowledge is the first step towards shedding light on entrepreneurial solutions the data tell us we’ve ignored, and which could create a better economy for us all.”  

Research Grants:

The projects selected to receive grants span a variety of academic disciplines and research topics. Teams were encouraged to collaborate with community organizations to ensure they incorporate diverse perspectives into their research. The Lepage Center originally announced it would award five grants from a pool of $100,000, but due to the outstanding quality of the proposals, it identified an additional $20,000 and is funding six projects. 

The six selected projects address the following questions:  

1)    What is the cost to Medicaid of deliveries with severe maternal morbidity related to race, and what is the economic impact of reducing racial inequality in delivery outcomes? 
2)    How does stress influence decisions made by BIPOC entrepreneurs and can it be reduced through technological intervention?
3)    What role do blight remediation policies, within the framework of urban redevelopment, play in the process of homeownership and displacement within New Orleans?
4)    What costs do families incur when their children or wards are involved in the juvenile courts and how has COVID-19 exacerbated those costs?
5)    To what extent do racial inequities exist within cultural funding in New Orleans and what is the economic impact resulting from uneven distribution of funds?
6)    In what ways might healthcare providers discriminate against BIPOC patients seeking primary care appointments and how can that discrimination be mitigated?

Read the full grant award announcement

Grant recipients will present their findings to the community in the spring of 2022. Please email Rosalind Butler at for more information.