Go to the U of M home page.
Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity logo


The Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity began as the Institute on Race & Poverty (IRP), which was founded by john a. powell in 1993 at the University of Minnesota Law School. The IRP focused its efforts on creating greater understanding of racialized poverty and changing policies and practices that affect the well-being of low-income communities of color. It collaborated with many advocacy groups and community organizations; national, state and local government officials; faith-based, philanthropic, and business leaders; and media representatives.

In 2002, powell left to direct the Kirwan Institute on Race & Ethnicity at Ohio State University. Myron Orfield, a nationally recognized expert on race, poverty, urban finance, affordable housing and regional reform, was selected to direct the IRP and serve as a professor of law.

In the past year, the IRP has undergone a transition that offers the opportunity to build on its strong national reputation in race and poverty and its solid academic and theory-based foundation with a renewed focus on regional social, fiscal and growth dynamics and with new technical capacities. The Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity is also integrating the work of the former Ameregis and Metropolitan Area Research Corporation into its operations.

The Institute's work today recognizes that at least 40 percent of the U.S. metropolitan population resides in suburbs with social or fiscal challenges severe enough to be considered "at risk." The many challenges facing these metropolitan areas can be attacked effectively only through a coordinated, regional approach. Through top-level scholarship and mapping, the Institute investigates the ways that laws, policies and practices affect development patterns in these regions, then provides practical resources and recommendations for reform for policymakers, planning officials and community organizations.

Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity

Major funding is provided by the Ford Foundation and McKnight Foundation. To read about the Ford Foundation's $400,000 grant to the Institute in 2011, click here.