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Mastercard Impact Fund renews grant to Social Policy Institute

Latest $1.5M grant will extend ongoing work to foster inclusive economic growth in St. Louis

The Mastercard Impact Fund, with support from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth —a founding partner of the Social Policy Institute (SPI) at Washington University in St. Louis — will continue its support for SPI with a second round of funding in the form of a $1.5 million grant.

The latest grant will enable SPI to build upon the momentum and knowledge gained from the work of the last three years, and will enable an expansion of its efforts in nonprofit capacity building, actionable research, and the Data for Social Impact Initiative. This work is designed to activate long-term, inclusive economic growth in St. Louis.

“With the support of Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, we are working towards transformational change in St. Louis through innovative and rigorous research, with the St. Louis community’s voice centered every step of the way.,” said Michal Grinstein-Weiss, the Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor at the Brown School and director of the Social Policy Institute.

The Mastercard Impact Fund initially granted $1.5 million to WashU in 2020 to launch SPI. In the next phase of the work, SPI will:

  • Use insights gained from the Inclusive Growth in St. Louis event series to activate and investigate innovative solutions to the city’s most pressing problems. Researchers will work with at least two St. Louis-based organizations to identify ways to create an inclusive and equitable economy. SPI will work with these organizations to develop and implement a pilot program, focused on evaluating and optimizing new and existing initiatives that support inclusive growth.
  • Leverage access to novel data sets to identify and test large-scale inclusive growth solutions. This research will focus on using data to assess the role of public policy in supporting small businesses as engines of inclusive growth and community economic resilience. In addition, SPI will field a three-wave longitudinal survey aimed at identifying and strengthening opportunities the economic mobility and economic inclusion of vulnerable, low-wage, and self-employed workers.
  • Launch phase two of the Data for Social Impact (DSI) Initiative. This phase will focus on establishing a regional DSI community of practice centered on equitable and effective data practices and mapping the St. Louis DSI ecosystem. In addition, it will include an expansion of the DSI online course and the formation of DSI learning cohorts in St. Louis and beyond. 

“We were incredibly proud to help bring the Social Policy Institute to life three years ago, and we’re just as proud today to continue to support the data- and insight-driven approach they’re taking to create a more inclusive economy in St. Louis,” said Salah Goss, Senior Vice President of Social Impact for North America at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.

Several SPI principal investigators (PI) and staff will conduct this research: Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Director (PI); Stephen Roll, Associate Director of Research (Co-PI); Dan Ferris, Associate Director of Training and Education (Co-PI); Yung Chun, Associate Director of Data Insight (Co-PI); Laura Brugger, Data Analyst III; Meredith Covington, Director of Administration, and Katie Kristensen, Operations Manager. Learn about our previous work on the Inclusive Growth in St. Louis event series and the Data for Social Impact initiative.


The Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis is a university-level initiative seeking to reduce inequality through research focused on housing, education, health and financial security. The research conducted at the Institute is designed to be transdisciplinary, solutions-oriented, and participatory-based, with the ultimate goal of informing policy.

The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth advances equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world. The Center leverages the company’s core assets and competencies, including data insights, expertise and technology, while administering the philanthropic Mastercard Impact Fund, to produce independent research, scale global programs and empower a community of thinkers, leaders and doers on the front lines of inclusive growth. For more information and to receive its latest insights, follow the Center on LinkedIn, Instagram and subscribe to its newsletter.