News & Resources

Equal Measure Launches New Series of Interviews

Chance Nettles | October 2017

Equal Measure recently launched a new series on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices that seeks "to inspire new and inform current conversations about the role of DEI in the development and evaluation of philanthropic investments."

The series will feature stories from community and technical colleges; leaders of community organizations focused on college access, opportunity youth, workforce development, and entrepreneurialism; two-generation approaches in New York City, Kentucky, and rural Northern California; and a re-entry program in Baltimore.

In the first two pieces of the series, Equal Measure pinpoints six common barriers facing opportunity youth that have been identified by evaluating the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund, an initiative by the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions that focuses on connecting education and workforce opportunities to youth between the ages of 16 to 24 who are neither enrolled in school or participating in the labor market. The six barriers are:

  • Organizational silos
  • Financial constraints
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Disconnected educational offerings
  • Timing and inefficiencies
  • Location and transportation

Recognizing these common barriers is the first step in addressing the systemic challenges facing opportunity youth and the most effective way to achieve this is by talking to youth directly.

The second piece of the series explores the nuances of equity discussions in an interview with two Equal Measure consultants working on Lumina Foundation’s Community Partnership for Attainment initiative, a multi-year initiative that seeks to encourage relationships several sectors to improve postsecondary access and completion for students in communities across the United States. The interview highlights the importance of power dynamics, context, and other factors that evaluators must consider when facilitating conversations about equity.

National Equity Atlas Provides Easy-to-Navigate, Visual Data on U.S. Equity Issues

Charles Demakis | July 2017

“The Face of America is Changing” – As you arrive to the National Equity Atlas homepage, it reminds you why we all have a shared interest in an equitable future for the United States. A majority of Americans will be people of color by 2044, with the population growing more diverse in the following years. This diversity will be a great source of cultural and economic strength, but we must take action to address the ongoing disparities that prevent our country from reaching its full potential.

The National Equity Atlas was designed as a resource for policymakers and interested members of the public to see how equitable their communities are. PolicyLink and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) teamed up to make a tool that provides easy-to-read, up-to-date information on racial and economic inclusion across the United States.

The Atlas contains data for the 100 largest cities, 150 largest metropolitan regions, all 50 states, and the country as a whole, all of which can be quickly found with a simple search. The Atlas also publishes detailed equity profiles for regions of special note as well as reports on how policymakers can make the economy more racially inclusive.

Probably the most important part of the Atlas is the equity indicators dashboard. This dashboard lets you pull up detailed information about demographics and equity measures, presenting it in clear and attractive graphical form. The equity indicators fall under three broad categories: economic vitality, with measures such as home ownership and income growth; readiness, with measures such as school poverty and diabetes rates; and connectedness, which covers commute times and housing burden. The dashboard also provides estimates for the income and GDP gains that would result from greater racial equity, presenting the concrete economic benefits we would all enjoy from a more equitable society.

The National Equity Atlas is only a few years old and continues to be regularly updated. As policymakers and activists, community leaders and engaged citizens continue working together to create a more inclusive America, this Atlas will remain a vital resource for them to draw upon.

Breaking Down Racial Barriers in Healthcare and IT

Charles Demakis | July 2017

Race-Explicit Strategies for Workforce Equity in Healthcare and IT, Race Forward, July 2017

Getting people into good jobs is one of the surest ways to improve their lot, and the healthcare and IT sectors are two of the hottest fields for secure, well-paying jobs. The problem is, these sectors have barriers that make it difficult for people of color to enter careers and it is precisely these racial disparities that the country must urgently address.

A recent study conducted by Race Forward and funded in part by the Kellogg Foundation and Moriah Fund looks at workforce development agencies across the United States to find out more about what these barriers are and what can be done to break them down.

The study, “Race-Explicit Strategies for Workforce Equity in Healthcare and IT”, was based on surveys and interviews with staff at community-based organizations and One Stop Centers as well as workers of color in order to hear their experiences with training and recruitment for the healthcare and IT sectors. Practitioners identified a wide variety of barriers, including internal barriers such as lack of support services for workers and inadequate data on racial disparities and external barriers such racial bias from employers and discriminatory attitudes in very white and very male occupations.

As Angel, a Latino IT trainee from New York, explained it, “Even if people of color get all the certifications under our belt and we say, ‘Look, we have the qualifications,’ it’s still going to be an uphill battle because of the systemic racism. It’s not just racism, it’s sexism as well. Those are battles that we all share.”

The study concludes that the key to fixing these inequities is finding solutions that are systemic, race-explicit, and outcome-oriented. “Colorblind” attempts to address individual problems will not be enough to effect the sea change that the present situation calls for. Gathering outcome-focused data by race, setting hiring goals in segregated professions, expanding support to workers of color, and creating a racially inclusive narrative to get the public and the big organizations on our side are all important parts of a grand strategy that could finally push our society towards real racial equity.

Saving the American Dream in Charlotte-Mecklenburg

Charles Demakis | July 2017

Leading on Opportunity: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force ReportThe Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force, March 2017.

Community and government leaders in Charlotte-Mecklenburg got a wakeup call in 2013. That year, study from Harvard University and the University of California Berkeley ranked their communities last among the fifty largest Americans cities in upward mobility for children born in the lowest income quintile. Economic mobility is the heart of the American dream, as most parents hope that their children can rise and become better off than they are.

A task force made of leaders from business, religious, philanthropic, and educational organizations spent 18 months assessing the situation and putting together a list of strategies and recommendations for action. In March 2017, the Task Force published its final report, setting out a sweeping vision for how to make the region more equitable.

The Task Force settled on three key determinants which research shows to have the greatest impact on economic mobility and a child’s life chances: 1) Early Care and Education, 2) College and Career Readiness, and 3) Family and Child Stability. They also identified Segregation and Social Capital as two “cross-cutting” factors which have a holistic influence on all the others.

Although the report goes into great detail with practical steps that public and private actors can take to implement their pro-equity recommendations, the Task Force makes clear that they are focusing on systems and structures rather than programs. Systems and structures, they reason, are the root cause, and if we are going to make any real progress towards lasting change, we will have to direct our attention to the underlying policies and practices that keep poor children behind.

The report goes over 21 key strategies and 91 recommendations, with a large portion related to workforce equity. It talks about the need to expand paid work-based learning opportunities, to support first-generation students transition to postsecondary education, and to create more training and job on-ramps for disconnected youth, among others.

When Brookings Institution scholar Richard Reeves was invited for his insight and guidance, he was wary at first, saying that, “Task forces typically have do few tasks and have little force.” The members of this Task Force take his warning seriously and have no intention of stopping with the report. They have laid out a path towards a more inclusive future for Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and now they call on the entire community to join them on the journey along it.

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