Elevate Data for Equity

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 evolving project, we aim to help residents, local governments, nonprofits, and philanthropy invest in data capacity and make data practices more equitable.

Foundations: Invest in Data Capacity

Foundations have the resources and influence to help remedy the overall shortage and the unequal distribution of local data capacity and 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 partner with foundations, apply data to understand issues, and take the actions needed to achieve the outcomes foundations seek.

Read our brief on the strategies foundations can take to promote and invest in data capacity.

Data Analysts: 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. Data reflect people’s interests, assumptions, and biases. 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. Without their input and benefits in mind, we risk asking the wrong questions, misinterpreting findings, and developing solutions that fail to achieve the goals. With a critical lens, analysts can evaluate their data practices and use data as a tool to advance equity and well-being.

Read our brief on principles for equitable data practice and resources for improving your practice.


This project provides knowledge 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.