Using Results Count to Realize the Promise of Equity for All
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 2010–2011 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.”