UChicago Inclusive Economy Lab’s evolution from the Poverty Lab demonstrates the power of putting values first when connecting with audiences.
FOR University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab
ROLE Branding Consultant, Writer, Strategist
TYPE Communications Strategy, Renaming & Messaging, Blog Development
The Poverty Lab launched in 2015 as one of the UChicago Urban Labs. Their mission: to conduct rigorous research that expands economic opportunity for people harmed by discrimination, disinvestment, and segregation. As they neared the release of several studies in 2020, the Lab wanted to ensure their findings would reach the audiences who would most benefit.
As we got to know the Lab and understand their methods, vision, and culture, we also came to the collective agreement that their name did not accurately reflect their values or their partnership-based approach to research.
We led and facilitated a collaborative process to rename the Lab to better convey where it is headed and how they are getting there. The resulting name, Inclusive Economy Lab, looks forward to improved economic opportunity and systems, especially for Chicago’s Black and Latinx communities in the under-resourced south and west sides. It also nods to the Lab’s inclusive collective of stakeholders, including policymakers, community organizations, and others working to achieve economic equity.
We also spoke with lab staff, community partners, policymakers, and other advocates to define the Lab’s audiences and points of difference, develop a messaging platform, and build out and enhance their outreach channels, including a Medium blog to better tell the stories behind their work.
The blog, Inclusive Economy Notes, expands on the Lab’s website to provide a conversational look at how progress toward their mission is evolving. It also acts as an archive of deeper insight about their work.
Momentum around the Lab’s activities and updated efforts to share their work contributed to supporter engagement, and in May 2021 the Lab received a $10 million donation from the Margot L. Pritzker Fund to advance and expand their work. Our communications strategy also laid the groundwork for Inclusive Economy Talks, one of the Lab’s newfound stages for engaging more people in conversations about what an inclusive economy looks like and how we get there.