New Resource Aids Researchers in Supporting Boys and Men of Color

Posted May 3, 2021
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog newresearchagendaon 2021

A new report aims to teach researchers, eval­u­a­tors and fun­ders how to bet­ter sup­port boys and men of col­or. The pub­li­ca­tion, Pow­er Beyond Mea­sure, intro­duces six strate­gies that empha­size chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo in research method­olo­gies and tak­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for sys­temic forces that cause harm.

The report, devel­oped with sup­port from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions, is designed to be a resource for lead­ers who are com­mit­ted to build­ing equi­table sys­tems across the Unit­ed States.

Read the report

A Sim­ple Term for a Diverse Group

The term boys and men of col­or” encom­pass­es many groups. It refers to boys and men who belong to Asian, Black, Indige­nous or Native, Lati­no, Pacif­ic Islander and oth­er com­mu­ni­ties of color.

Pow­er Beyond Mea­sure, released by the firm Equi­v­olve Con­sult­ing, empha­sizes that each of these groups has unique expe­ri­ences as well as inter­sec­tion­al iden­ti­ties. It offers research, eval­u­a­tion and relat­ed fund­ing strate­gies that aim to advance equi­ty for each group.

The Roots of this Research

In 2013, the Exec­u­tives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Col­or and affil­i­at­ed fun­ders began a col­lab­o­ra­tion to con­sid­er prob­lems fac­ing boys and men of col­or. The result­ing ini­tia­tive, Research, Inte­gra­tion, Strate­gies and Eval­u­a­tion for Boys and Men of Col­or (RISE), high­light­ed key issues, includ­ing racial imbal­ances in pub­lished research and deficit-based frame­works that per­pet­u­ate neg­a­tive stereotypes.

In Octo­ber of 2018, the Alliance took a step toward address­ing the gaps iden­ti­fied by RISE. It enlist­ed Equi­v­olve to reimag­ine the process of con­duct­ing research and eval­u­a­tion so that it would advance equi­ty and solu­tions for boys and men of color.

Equivolve’s infor­ma­tion-gath­er­ing effort took three forms. It sur­veyed lead­ers and prac­ti­tion­ers — includ­ing pol­i­cy pro­fes­sion­als, researchers, pub­lic admin­is­tra­tors and eval­u­a­tors — who serve boys and men of col­or. It inter­viewed pro­fes­sion­als who work on relat­ed issues, such as research or orga­ni­za­tion­al work focused on boys and men of col­or. And the firm con­duct­ed a lit­er­a­ture review between fall 2019 and spring 2020.

Sup­port­ing Boys and Men of Col­or With Six Core Strategies

This work revealed six core strate­gies that researchers and research fun­ders can use to help pro­mote equi­ty for boys and men of col­or. These strate­gies are:

  1. Cen­ter boys and men of col­or. Voic­es of boys and men of col­or should be cen­tered in work that includes them and they should be active­ly involved in deci­sion-mak­ing process­es. This includes ful­ly rec­og­niz­ing and engag­ing boys and men of col­or as research part­ners with unique skills and expe­ri­ences. Par­tic­i­pants also should be appro­pri­ate­ly com­pen­sat­ed for their time and contributions.
  2. Pro­mote com­mu­ni­ty pow­er and capac­i­ty build­ing. Research about com­mu­ni­ties of col­or often per­pet­u­ates harm­ful stereo­types. By refram­ing ques­tions to focus on strengths, research can high­light what a com­mu­ni­ty does well. More­over, when com­mu­ni­ties can improve and retain skills and knowl­edge, they are bet­ter equipped to iden­ti­fy needs and direct resources to the appro­pri­ate sup­port areas in their neighborhoods.
  3. Learn and use diverse research approach­es. Tra­di­tion­al research designs don’t often reflect or serve com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. Pow­er Beyond Mea­sure calls for expand­ing diverse method­olo­gies that include cul­tur­al­ly based, inclu­sive and inter­sec­tion­al frameworks.
  4. Research, sup­port and engage in sys­tems-lev­el change. To change sys­tems, it is crit­i­cal to exam­ine the root caus­es of sys­temic racism. This involves mon­i­tor­ing racism with­in insti­tu­tions, using lan­guage care­ful­ly and avoid­ing blam­ing sub­jects rather than systems.
  5. Share results with boys and men of col­or. Study results often cir­cu­late among researchers, eval­u­a­tors and fun­ders who sup­port the research. How­ev­er, boys and men of col­or who con­tribute to a study should have shared own­er­ship, a role in the inter­pre­ta­tion of study results, and input on how the data is shared and used. The results should also be eas­i­ly acces­si­ble in var­i­ous languages.
  6. Prac­tice equi­ty to advance equi­ty. If orga­ni­za­tions and insti­tu­tions are to advance equi­ty out­side their own walls, they must prac­tice it them­selves. For exam­ple: This could mean fund­ing sus­tain­able research efforts in orga­ni­za­tions led by peo­ple of color.

The report deliv­ers clear guid­ance to a field that is increas­ing­ly eager to incor­po­rate cul­tur­al back­grounds and rich expe­ri­ences of com­mu­ni­ties into their work, accord­ing to Kim­ber­ly Spring, direc­tor of Research, Eval­u­a­tion and Data at the Casey Foundation.

Pow­er Beyond Mea­sure rec­og­nizes how dom­i­nant research par­a­digms have harmed com­mu­ni­ties of col­or and how we can engage boys and men of col­or as part­ners in our research and eval­u­a­tion work,” says Spring. We hope these strate­gies are imple­ment­ed wide­ly to focus on the crit­i­cal need to val­ue the lives and well-being of youth and young men of color.”

Learn more about incor­po­rat­ing equi­ty into evaluation

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