Using Results Count to Realize the Promise of Equity for All

Posted May 23, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A close-up of the hands of many colors linked in solidarity.

Pol­i­cyLink, a nation­al research insti­tute, is lever­ag­ing the skills and tools of Results Count®. The Casey Foundation’s unique approach to lead­er­ship devel­op­ment helps Pol­i­cyLink under­take ini­tia­tives aimed at achiev­ing equi­table results for the 100 mil­lion peo­ple in Amer­i­ca liv­ing in or near pover­ty — the major­i­ty of whom are peo­ple of color.

One of sev­en Results Count hubs, Pol­i­cyLink has infused this data-dri­ven approach into its strat­e­gy to spur large-scale change and spread results-ori­ent­ed cul­ture to exter­nal partners.

Incor­po­rat­ing Results Count Into Pol­i­cyLink’s Operations

Cen­tral to PolicyLink’s work is part­ner­ing with hun­dreds of grass­roots orga­ni­za­tions in cities, sub­urbs, rur­al com­mu­ni­ties and trib­al lands. Instead of tai­lor­ing a grant pro­pos­al to meet a foundation’s pro­gram­mat­ic objec­tive, Pol­i­cyLink wants to ensure that fund­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties are aligned with an organization’s long-term goals.

Results-Based Facil­i­ta­tion™, which helps cat­alyze meet­ing par­tic­i­pants and holds them account­able to their com­mit­ments, informs vir­tu­al­ly every meet­ing at Pol­i­cyLink. If you’re on the agen­da,” says Pol­i­cyLink Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent Ash­leigh Gardere, you present your results frame in the broad­er orga­ni­za­tion­al con­text before talk­ing about your work.”

Results Count also plays a role in PolicyLink’s recruit­ing and onboard­ing of employ­ees. Final­ists for open posi­tions are briefed on the methodology’s impor­tance to the orga­ni­za­tion. Once hired, new employ­ees receive Results Count train­ing in the form of a four-part series of record­ed ses­sions specif­i­cal­ly made for Pol­i­cyLink staff.

How Results Count Tools Advance Equity

As an equi­ty orga­ni­za­tion, Pol­i­cyLink wel­comed Results Counts’ empha­sis on dis­ag­gre­gat­ing data to under­stand the entire pop­u­la­tion of peo­ple liv­ing in or near pover­ty, with spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion giv­en to the racial groups fac­ing the great­est bar­ri­ers. PolicyLink’s over­all vision, which will require a gen­er­a­tion-long effort and many part­ners, has helped the orga­ni­za­tion uni­fy the work of its pro­grams. Each pro­gram and oper­a­tions team has devel­oped its own results frame­work, work plan and per­for­mance mea­sures to advance PolicyLink’s over­all objec­tives. This process helps staff mem­bers under­stand their con­tri­bu­tion to, and account­abil­i­ty for, the orga­ni­za­tion’s work.

The orga­ni­za­tion’s over­all goal — con­tribut­ing to trans­for­ma­tive out­comes for the 100 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing at or below 200% of the fed­er­al pover­ty lev­el — was a key start­ing point for reex­am­in­ing PolicyLink’s strate­gies. One con­se­quence of this analy­sis, aid­ed by the Results Count tool fac­tor analy­sis, was the devel­op­ment of the Racial Equi­ty Gov­ern­ing Agen­da, which seeks to reform pub­lic poli­cies and insti­tu­tion­al prac­tices that rein­force racial inequality.

What we real­ized is you can nev­er have a just soci­ety if our democ­ra­cy and our gov­ern­ing struc­tures are not equi­table,” says Gardere. That was a major breakthrough.”

One part of the Racial Equi­ty Gov­ern­ing Agen­da is the Equi­ty Scor­ing Ini­tia­tive, a part­ner­ship with the Urban Insti­tute aimed at estab­lish­ing a new sys­tem to mea­sure the equi­ty impact of pro­posed leg­is­la­tion. We are look­ing for the long-term impacts of pol­i­cy on out­comes,” says Judith Dan­ger­field, PolicyLink’s man­ag­ing direc­tor of the Racial Equi­ty Gov­ern­ing Agen­da. Just as the Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Office scores leg­is­la­tion for bud­get impact, we want to devel­op an objec­tive method­ol­o­gy to say whether a pro­posed piece of leg­is­la­tion meets the thresh­old of equi­table out­comes for a just society.”

Results Count-Informed Leadership

Pol­i­cyLink Pres­i­dent and CEO Michael McAfee was a mem­ber of the 20102011 class of the Chil­dren and Fam­i­ly Fel­low­ship®, the Foundation’s sig­na­ture Results Count pro­gram for accom­plished lead­ers from the pub­lic, non­prof­it and for-prof­it sec­tors. The Fel­low­ship is an inten­sive pro­gram designed to give more child- and fam­i­ly-serv­ing pro­fes­sion­als the con­fi­dence and com­pe­tence to lead major sys­tem reforms and com­mu­ni­ty change ini­tia­tives, in ser­vice of achiev­ing improved out­comes for chil­dren, fam­i­lies and communities.

Before McAfee’s appoint­ment as PolicyLink’s CEO, he served as the inau­gur­al direc­tor of the organization’s Promise Neigh­bor­hoods Insti­tute. Under McAfee’s lead­er­ship, Pol­i­cyLink cham­pi­oned Promise Neigh­bor­hoods’ results-dri­ven, cra­dle-to-career approach to break­ing the cycle of gen­er­a­tional pover­ty. Work­ing with part­ners in more than 60 com­mu­ni­ties, he con­tributed to sig­nif­i­cant edu­ca­tion­al and devel­op­men­tal improve­ments for chil­dren and played a lead­ing role in Promise Neigh­bor­hoods becom­ing a per­ma­nent fed­er­al pro­gram in 2015.

Appoint­ed CEO in 2018, McAfee intro­duced Pol­i­cyLink to a fun­da­men­tal Results Count prac­tice: defin­ing a long-term pop­u­la­tion-lev­el result to guide every aspect of an organization’s work. PolicyLink’s tar­get pop­u­la­tion is Amer­i­cans who face the bur­dens of racial bias across insti­tu­tions. Pol­i­cyLink wants this pop­u­la­tion — and all Amer­i­cans — to par­tic­i­pate in a flour­ish­ing mul­tira­cial democ­ra­cy, pros­per in an equi­table econ­o­my and thrive in healthy com­mu­ni­ties of opportunity.

Pol­i­cyLink Earns Recog­ni­tion — and Funding

PolicyLink’s accom­plish­ments, ambi­tious aspi­ra­tions and its sys­tem­at­ic approach to achiev­ing them were recent­ly hon­ored by the Skoll Foun­da­tion, which annu­al­ly high­lights lead­ers and orga­ni­za­tions advanc­ing trans­for­ma­tion­al social change. In addi­tion to inter­na­tion­al recog­ni­tion, the 2023 Skoll Award for Social Inno­va­tion pro­vides Pol­i­cyLink with $2.25 mil­lion in unre­strict­ed fund­ing to help scale its work.

Only with trans­for­ma­tive results will we be able to ush­er in a flour­ish­ing mul­tira­cial democ­ra­cy, cre­ate an equi­table econ­o­my and build thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ties where we all can pros­per,” says McAfee. Results Count has helped us be dis­ci­plined and method­i­cal in oper­a­tional­iz­ing the arc of change that will lead to the trans­for­ma­tive results we seek for all, and espe­cial­ly for the 1 in 3 Amer­i­cans strug­gling to make ends meet.”

Learn How Lead­ers Achieve Equi­ty With Results Count

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