Fifteen Cents on the Dollar Authors

Award-winning Journalists | Co-authors, "Fifteen Cents on the Dollar"
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Louise Story and Ebony Reed are co-authors of Fifteen Cents on the Dollar, an illuminating exploration into the origins of the Black-white wealth gap in America with insight on the work that must be done to close it. The book is part of a larger public impact project with three main goals: make the data on wealth gaps common knowledge; spur conversations about the many ways in which the wealth gap intersects with other social issues such as housing, employment, and education; and spread empathy through the sharing of deeply human stories. As part of this initiative, Story and Reed also co-teach a course on racial wealth gaps at the Yale School of Management and host wealth gap symposiums around the country.
The book’s title speaks to the statistic that for every dollar of wealth a white family has, the average Black family has just fifteen cents. On a historical journey from slavery to modern-day banking discrimination, the authors explain how this gap came to be and why it hasn’t changed in generations. The impact of centuries of economic discrimination come to life on the page through the stories of seven Black Americans facing setback after setback as they work toward financial goals that prove to be increasingly out of reach. Kirkus Reviews deemed Fifteen Cents on the Dollar  “an important book that should inform conversations about equity at every level.”
Louise Story is a prize-winning investigative journalist who spent more than 15 years at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, where she was the top masthead editor running coverage strategy. Her work investigating corruption led to the largest kleptocracy forfeiture in U.S. history, a scandal known as the 1MDB case. Her work during the 2008 financial crisis led to a multi-billion dollar settlement in the derivative market and to Goldman Sachs’s S.E.C. settlement. Projects she led have received honors including Emmy Awards, Pulitzer Prize finalist citations, and Online News Association awards. Louise’s film The Kleptocrats aired on the BBC, Apple, and Amazon.

Ebony Reed is a seasoned journalist who has held editorial and operational leadership roles across regional news. She began her career as a reporter at The Plain Dealer, covering Cleveland public schools, and documenting public education’s inequities, with her work recognized by The Investigative Reporters & Editors organization. At the Detroit News, she managed the local coverage during the 2008 economic crisis. Now the Chief Strategy Officer at The Marshall Project, she has held other senior roles at the Associated Press, Boston Business Journal, and the Wall Street Journal. She has taught at more than a dozen universities across the United States.


Fifteen Cents on the Dollar: How Americans Made the Black-White Wealth Gap

Did you know that for every dollar of wealth a white family has, the average Black family in America has just fifteen cents? This wealth gap has persisted for generations and studies say that without intentional corrective approaches, it could take 100 years to see economic equality between the races. From slavery and the Tulsa Race Massacre, which decimated an affluent area known as Black Wall Street, destroying the beginnings of generational wealth for thousands of Black families, to employment and banking discrimination in the modern era, Black Americans have faced innumerable setbacks in their pursuit of wealth accumulation. In this presentation, investigative journalists and co-authors Louise Story and Ebony Reed explain how history affects the present state of wealth inequality and what can be done today to build a more equitable tomorrow.

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Partnerships Across Demographic Lines

When Louise Story and Ebony Reed joined forces to write Fifteen Cents on the Dollar, they had no clue the experience would be a case study on the book’s themes. As co-authors writing about inequality, they wanted to ensure their partnership was as fair as possible, but they soon learned that fair does not always mean equal. It’s not fair to divide expenses 50-50 when a single dollar represents a vastly different percentage of each person’s household income. It’s not fair to expect identical hours put into the book when one person can commit to writing full-time and another has to squeeze writing in on lunch breaks at their traditional job. By navigating each other’s unique circumstances, getting to know each other on a deeply human level, and working to form an equitable partnership, inclusion became a tangible practice rather than a corporate buzzword that has lost much of its meaning. The experience convinced them that if more people formed meaningful partnerships with people different from them, there’d be far less inter-demographic tension in America. In this presentation, Louise and Ebony outline the secrets to secrets to equitable partnerships that build bridges across relational gaps and increase our understanding of those different from us.

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Understanding the Racial Wealth Gap: How America Made the Black-White Wealth Gap
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