Improve community health. Advance economic mobility. Reduce persistent poverty. Communities across the country are tackling ambitious goals like these, and data can be a powerful tool in their fight.
But not everyone has access to data or the skills and resources to use those data to advocate for change. In particular, marginalized communities, including people of color and those with low incomes, are often shut out of opportunities to access data or have been harmed by others who are using data irresponsibly.
Through this project, we aim to help philanthropy, researchers, nonprofits, and local governments invest in data capacity and make data practices more equitable.
Invest in Data Capacity
A community with data capacity is one where people can access and use data to understand and improve outcomes where they live. Foundations have the resources and influence to help remedy the shortage and the unequal distribution of local data capacity and to enhance a community’s ability to achieve change. Foundations can promote, champion, and invest in the data capacity of their grantees and of the community more broadly. Doing so will better equip communities to use data to understand issues and to take the actions needed to achieve the outcomes foundations seek.
Develop Equitable Data Practice
Data are not neutral—they are shaped by people’s decisions about which data matter, how they are collected, and how they are analyzed and shared. And data have been used against people of color and other marginalized communities, from historical redlining practices to modern biases in hiring algorithms. Even when data aren’t used to intentionally harm, they are often created and analyzed without input from the people at the heart of the issues being studied. With a critical lens, analysts can evaluate their data practices and use data as a tool to advance equity and well-being.
This project provides information and tools for using data to advance equity and community health. Our publications and curated resources guide philanthropy, researchers, and local organizations as they build data capacity and critically examine their own data practices. The project draws on insights from the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership and was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.