Morgan Stanley
  • Diversity
  • Oct 17, 2022

Bending the Arc: The Social Justice Innovation Awards

We proudly support a new initiative from Centri Tech Foundation that provides funding and other support for five organizations and their founders doing game-changing work to advance systemic solutions to complex social justice issues.

During the social unrest that took place in the summer of 2020, protesters took to the streets in record numbers. Polls conducted at the time indicated that as many 26 million people marched to demand justice and reform in cities and towns across the country1—nearly 40% of U.S. counties in all2.

But for nonprofits across the country committed to bringing about social justice—including equal access to education, healthcare, affordable housing and economic mobility—the battles, while energizing, are not new. Nor are they now over, as much more work still needs to be done. 

Building on the Momentum

Morgan Stanley—which is committed to an integrated and transparent diversity, equity and inclusion strategy—continues to help drive those efforts. As part of that commitment, we are supporting Centri Tech Foundation, a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C, in launching the first Social Justice Innovation Awards. These awards represent a new strategic initiative created to advance social and racial justice and help drive greater inclusive economic opportunity.

“We are thrilled to congratulate the winners of the inaugural Social Justice Innovation Awards—an impressive cohort of innovators already addressing complex social issues in an impactful way,” says Susan Reid, Morgan Stanley’s Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion and Head of the Institute for Inclusion, which the firm launched in 2020 to invest in underserved communities, advance equity through giving, and promote workplace diversity and inclusion. “We look forward to seeing how this investment will better empower their work and enact change within the communities they serve and beyond.” Adds Rey Ramsey, Chairman of Centri Tech Foundation, “These visionary leaders are advancing solutions that put people and communities first. Their bold ideas bring to bear our mission of leveraging technology to accelerate systems change and promote shared prosperity.”

Identifying Those Driving Change

The founders of the five organizations in the inaugural class of Social Justice Innovation Awards will participate in a nine-month program modeled after the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Solutions Collaborative, during which they will receive leadership coaching and support, as well as access to professional networks. The program is designed to promote collaboration, build capacity, and provide resources to leaders focused on achieving transformative impact. Each winner will also receive an award of $250,000 to help accelerate their ability to scale their solutions to some of America’s most complex social justice issues and drive systemic change. The winners, who were selected for developing a breakthrough concept aimed at solving critical social justice challenges and represent a diverse group of organizations, backgrounds and social issues, are as follows:

  • FlikshopVR, led by Marcus Bullock, deploys a new VR approach to workforce development in correctional facilities throughout the country, providing essential entrepreneurial and business skills that will reduce recidivism by expanding post-incarceration employment opportunities.
  • HomeGrown StL, led by Dr. Sean Joe, a university-based, regional initiative in St. Louis, MO, improves the well-being and upward mobility of Black boys and young men through life coaching, connecting them to essential services and democratizing their access to care
  • Kalia Health, led by Happy Ghosh, aims to improve maternal health outcomes by developing healthcare technologies for use in low-resource settings in the United States, including a home-based test that offers early diagnosis of life-threatening complications like preeclampsia and eclampsia
  • Parity, led by Bree Jones, an equitable development company in Baltimore, MD, acquires and rehabilitates vacant and abandoned properties in distressed neighborhoods to create affordable homeownership opportunities. Parity aims to streamline how cities address hyper-vacancy while increasing equitable and collective access to homeownership.
  • THRIVE!, led by Omolara Fatiregun, is a consultancy that engages local governments and residents to co-construct a tangible racial justice agenda centered on equity and economic mobility. Their software analyzes public spending on equity measures that have scientific evidence of disrupting cycles of poverty, centering low-income people and communities of color.

Together, with the help of Centri Tech and Morgan Stanley, these forward-thinking organizations hope to continue to advance real change. Says Matthew Slovik, Head of Global Sustainable Finance at Morgan Stanley, “Tackling complex sustainability challenges requires creative thinking, innovative ideas and unique partnerships, and we are proud to work with Centri Tech Foundation in establishing this new initiative.  


Diversity and Inclusion at Morgan Stanley