Wilkins Center Research

Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice
Humphrey School of Public Affairs

217 Humphrey School
301 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Our Research

The Roy Wilkins Center is regarded as one of the country's leading research centers specializing in objective analyses of racial and ethnic economic inequality. Quantitative, econometric models are used to measure the breadth of a problem, delineate the causes, and help determine the direction and impact of possible solutions. In this framework, the center develops new models to detect and measure indicators of discrimination and inequality. Recent research topics include:

  • Racial and ethnic economic inequality
  • Housing availability and ownership among minority communities
  • The education achievement gap between students of color and white students
  • The impact and role of crime in minority communities

Sharing Research with Community Partners

To break down the "we vs. them" barrier that often arises between academics and communities, the Wilkins Center reaches out and learns from the communities most affected by public policy. Through partnerships with local organizations and community meetings, the center shares research and ideas to help communities effect change in their neighborhoods. Our partners include:

  • Association of Metropolitan School Districts
  • Communities of Color Institute for Organizational Leadership and Development
  • Faculty of Aboriginal and Islander Studies, University of South Australia International Research Institute for Maori and Indigenous Education
  • University of Auckland
  • McKnight Foundation
  • Minneapolis Urban League
  • Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning
  • McKnight Foundation
  • National Community Reinvestment Coalition
  • Urban Coalition

Technical Assistance: Our Specialty

The Roy Wilkins Center specializes in conducting rigorous, objective analyses of discrimination against minorities and women so that public agencies can meet both the letter and the spirit of the law. Using pioneering tools and well-tested techniques, our experts and legal consultants help state and local entities achieve their goals in developing race- and gender-based affirmative action programs that comply with federal regulatory and constitutional requirements.

The Roy Wilkins Center can custom design effective and lawful race-neutral and race-conscious programs that meet statutory mandates, and improve the process for procuring goods and services from businesses owned by minorities and women. Read about our disparity studies. 

Our Methodology

Our experts employ innovative quantitative and qualitative methods to identify whether disparities exist between the availability of willing, able and qualified minority- and women-owned firms and those actually participating in the public procurement and contracting process. This includes employing advanced econometric and statistical methods to:

  • Study the local marketplace to provide an objective picture of the state of business discrimination in a particular city, county, state, or region
  • Analyze and interpret complex national and regional databases to precisely measure whether any existing disparities in contracting are the result of discrimination
  • Understand contractors’ qualitative experiences with your contracting policies and procedures
  • Develop effective strategies to engage minority- and women-owned firms in your contracting process and design comprehensive, legally defensible race- and gender-conscious programs.

The Roy Wilkins Center does not apply a “cookie cutter” or one-size-fits-all approach. By applying the highest empirical standards and managing an inclusive, community-sensitive process, the Roy Wilkins Center helps clients achieve sound and sustainable policy solutions that precisely reflect their history, address their issues, and fit their needs.

Litigation Support

  • Geyer Signal, Inc v. Minnesota Department of Transportation, et al. "Second Rebuttal Report of Defendants' Expert" April 2013
  • Geyer Signal, Inc v. Minnesota Department of Transportation, et al. "Rebuttal Report of Defendants' Expert" March 2013
  • Geyer Signal, Inc v. Minnesota Department of Transportation, et al. "Initial Report of Defendants' Expert" 2012