For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

The Wealth and Work Futures Lab

Lindy Institute Distinguished Resident Fellow Michael O’Bryan launched the The Wealth + Work Futures Lab in 2023 to address the systemic inequities and barriers which drive racial disparities in wealth, income, and well-being. These barriers often keep people from historically excluded communities from achieving economic security through employment, education, and asset-building opportunities.


With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic still being felt, Philadelphia area residents continue to experience job loss, while as a whole, Philly continues to trail the nation in economic recovery.

A critical result of this struggle is the prolonged absence of wealth, especially among the city’s Black and Brown residents. Wealth, as we define it, transcends conventional notions of financial prosperity, encompassing freedom, health, stability, peace, opportunity, and a sense of completeness. It is viewed not merely as an individual pursuit but as a collective endeavor that nurtures and invests in well-being on multiple levels—familial, relational, occupational, spiritual, and psychological.

But that is not to say the talent and desire to generate wealth isn’t there. Quite the opposite—Philadelphia is teeming with untapped potential, especially among its Black and Brown residents. The Wealth + Work Futures Lab will invest in this potential, designing and activating a new future-focused research and design engine that will forge the future for Philadelphia’s, and the nation's, most excluded residents—carving out pathways for healing, building wealth, and investing in economic and workforce development.

Introducing the Wealth + Works Futures Lab

The Lab is:

  • A Social Design Hub—a bustling hive that helps companies design, test, and launch new initiatives and ways of working that support hiring and retention for BIPOC residents and others from historically excluded communities
  • A Research Institute that investigates the future of work and wealth in cities and rural communities as they relate to human wellbeing
  • A Collaborative Community of Practice that cross-pollinates learning on what works across both cities and rural communities

The seed for the The Wealth + Work Futures Lab emerged from earlier work led by Michael called The Metro Futures Coalition. The Metro Futures Coalition weaved together the expertise of workforce specialists, the ambition of young adults, the vision of employers, and the advocacy of champions who believe in change.

In collaboration with, we took a community-led approach, co-designing with practitioners, public sector leaders, employers, funders, and young adults to create the most cohesive, comprehensive pilot ideas and opportunities for collaborative action.

Together, we identified that:

  • The unaddressed impact of trauma and the difficulty of meeting basic needs makes it hard for Opportunity Youth to plan for the future
  • Employers need a compass to navigate the complexities of recruiting and supporting diverse talent
  • The workforce development system is in need of greater cohesion

Metro Future Coalition Members include:

  • Michael O’Bryan, Founder of Humanature, Distinguished Resident Fellow Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation
  • Phil Brooks, Director, STEM Workforce Partnerships at the University City Science Center
  • Gwyneth Gaul, VP, Strategic Partnerships & Community Impact, Comcast NBCUniversal
  • Gianna Grossmann, Senior Director, Workforce Development, City of Philadelphia
  • Julia Hillengas, Co-founder & Executive Director of PowerCorpsPHL
  • Danae Mobley, Executive Director, 1Philadelphia, Chief Operating Officer, Coded by Kids
  • Matt Riggan, Co-founder and Executive Director, Workshop School
  • Sarah Steltz, Vice President, Economic Competitiveness at The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia
  • Bethany Van De Water, Program Coordinator at YEAHPhilly