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The Harvard Kennedy School has received a $2.5 million gift to support research and programming on inequality and wealth concentration.
The James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation donated these funds to the Kennedy School, according to a press release Tuesday. The funds will contribute to the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at the Kennedy School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.
“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,” Dean of the Kennedy School Douglas W. Elmendorf said in the press release. “Jim and Cathy Stone’s generosity will allow the Kennedy School to enhance its work on these crucial issues in the years ahead.”
James M. Stone ’69 is the founder and CEO of the Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation, a group of insurance companies based in the northeast. In addition to graduating from the College in 1969, he obtained a Masters Degree in Economics from in 1970 and a PhD in Economics from Harvard in 1973. His wife, Cathleen D. Stone, is the president of their foundation and sits on the boards of multiple organizations.
The gift will fund eight doctoral students per year across the University’s graduate schools. The donation will also fund the Stone Senior Scholars program—an initiative which will invite 12 leading scholars of inequality to give lectures and coordinate events about economic opportunity and income inequality—and the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Lecture, a series of public lectures around economic inequality across the world.
French economist Thomas Piketty will deliver the first lecture of the Stone series Friday at the Kennedy School’s JFK Forum.
This is the not the first contribution the foundation has made to research on economic equality. In 2016, the foundation announced it would donate $2.5 million to the Graduate Center of the City University of New York to fund a center for work surrounding economic inequality.
“The concentration and sequestration of wealth at the top can interfere with economic growth and diminish the benefits of mobility,” James Stone said in the press release. “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.”
The donation from the foundation comes as Harvard nears the completion of its record-setting capital campaign, set to end in June 2018. The Kennedy School had raised more than $660 million as of February 2018, surpassing its original $500 million goal.
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