Equity Counts: Using Data to Advance Equity

A plenary session on data at the 2018 Spring OYF Convening in Seattle/South King County.

The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions believes that equity is the just and fair inclusion in a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. As one of our cornerstone values, we seek to carry out all of our work through this equity-based lens.

Equity Counts is our new data-focused initiative that will assist Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) member communities to increase their capacities for data collection and data use, with a focus on using disaggregated information to promote equitable outcomes and increase rigor. Sixteen OYF member communities will participate in this initiative in the first year, with six sites selected to dig deep on developing new measures of success for opportunity youth and focusing on getting a better understanding of whether successes and challenges for opportunity youth are equitably attained.

The six sites selected for this special cohort are: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Santa Clara (Calif.), Oakland, and Philadelphia. Each of these sites will receive $20,000 in funding for participating in and completing advanced work to define common measures as well as run a trial data collection effort on these new measures. An additional 11 OYF communities are participating in additional learning and planning activities related to Equity Counts. The first year of the Equity Counts work is being supported by funding from The Ballmer Group.

Equity Counts grows out of the substantial progress OYF communities have shown over the last five years. Understanding this impact better is an important goal, so that OYF members can learn which approaches are helping to support opportunity youth – and what inequities remain. We believe a focus on data is fundamental to understanding inequities, and in designing and assessing new efforts that aim to increase equity.

Equity Counts is envisioned as a five-year effort, with this initial work in the first year laying the groundwork to answer these key questions for the opportunity youth movement:

  1. What are the metrics by which we will hold ourselves accountable and improve our work?
  2. What does a high quality and high impact opportunity youth community collaborative look like? How does it use data to focus on equity and impact?
  3. How will we as the OYF network define and distinguish between lower impact and higher impact work that creates population-level change, and how will we measure that impact?

The Equity Counts initiative is designed to, over time, build the ability to perform such analyses and use the data to promote program and systems changes.

We will keep you apprised of updates on Equity Counts in future blog posts. For more information on all our OYF communities, visit this map here.