Embedding Race Equity and Inclusion: A Report from the Baltimore and Atlanta Civic Sites

Posted June 10, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog Embedding Race Equityand Inclusion 2016

How does a foun­da­tion begin to address wide gaps in oppor­tu­ni­ties and out­comes for chil­dren when data are dis­ag­gre­gat­ed by race? It takes an explic­it focus on racial dis­par­i­ties and equi­ty when address­ing entrenched prob­lems in edu­ca­tion, work­force devel­op­ment and pover­ty. A race equi­ty and inclu­sion (REI) frame­work requires frank dis­cus­sions about the role of race in soci­ety, pub­lic sys­tems and phil­an­thropy, as well per­son­al explo­rations of one’s own per­cep­tions, bias­es and assump­tions. Many peo­ple, regard­less of their skin col­or, find such con­ver­sa­tions some­what uncomfortable.

A new report, Deploy­ing Casey’s REI Frame­work: Lessons from the Civic Sites, doc­u­ments the Casey Foundation’s efforts to embed a race equi­ty lens in its pro­gram­mat­ic units in Bal­ti­more and Atlanta. Each of these civic sites is staffed by a team work­ing in the com­mu­ni­ty to improve edu­ca­tion, job oppor­tu­ni­ties, health and neigh­bor­hood assets for kids and fam­i­lies. Deploy­ing Casey’s REI Frame­work seeks to encour­age bet­ter under­stand­ing of such work in oth­er Casey units and in the field of phil­an­thropy more generally.

As a Foun­da­tion com­mit­ted to improv­ing out­comes for all chil­dren, race equi­ty has long been part of Casey’s DNA. In 2013, staff mem­bers cre­at­ed a new REI frame­work. Key strate­gies of the frame­work include:

  • edu­cat­ing and equip­ping lead­ers with racial­ly dis­ag­gre­gat­ed data prod­ucts to strength­en deci­sion mak­ing and mea­sure progress regard­ing equi­table oppor­tu­ni­ties and outcomes;
  • pro­vid­ing tools and shar­ing best prac­tices that sup­port the appli­ca­tion of race equi­ty and inclu­sion strate­gies; and
  • pro­mot­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of race equi­ty-focused pol­i­cy and prac­tice changes that increase equi­table oppor­tu­ni­ties and out­comes for all children.

Foun­da­tion staff in Bal­ti­more and Atlanta agreed to under­go train­ing, con­duct deep team dis­cus­sions, study data, engage stake­hold­ers, iden­ti­fy equi­ty gaps and devel­op strate­gies. One tech­nique employed by the civic sites was back map­ping,” a sys­tem­at­ic process to iden­ti­fy the dri­vers of any giv­en racial inequity shown by data. For exam­ple, if the scores of one racial group of chil­dren dif­fer sig­nif­i­cant­ly on a read­ing assess­ment com­pared with those of anoth­er racial group, it is impor­tant to look for insti­tu­tion­al and struc­tur­al dri­vers of this inequity.

Among the com­mon themes and lessons that emerged from the two sites:

  • Use data to frame the issues. This pro­vides a clear focus and a way to present race issues in a non-threat­en­ing, non-judg­men­tal way.
  • Make space for the per­son­al. Although the tools incor­po­rat­ed by Casey are high­ly ana­lyt­i­cal and focused on address­ing the struc­tur­al bar­ri­ers and inequities, the nature of racial equi­ty is high­ly personal.
  • This is a team effort. Beware of mak­ing assump­tions that employ­ees of col­or should be the de fac­to lead­ers of REI work, or that one per­son can do the work on behalf of a team.

A fun­da­men­tal insight from the civic sites was rec­og­niz­ing priv­i­lege. Sev­er­al team mem­bers not­ed that any­one work­ing at Casey, regard­less of race, works from a posi­tion of priv­i­lege. We have to use that priv­i­lege to make a dif­fer­ence,” says Kweku Forstall, direc­tor of the Atlanta Civic Site. How we use that posi­tion in allo­cat­ing our resources is what it’s all about.”

Read Deploy­ing Casey’s REI Frame­work: Lessons from the Civic Sites

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