The eight site teams in Living Cities' Integration Initiative convened in Dallas, TX to explore how to use data to drive results - starting with a conversation about racial equity.

Yesterday we wrapped up our annual fall Learning Community, convening with teams from our eight Integration Initiative sites from cities across the country. The Learning Community is one step on our larger “Journey to Results.” Teams gathered in Dallas for two days to focus on unlocking how to get, use and share data to continuously improve and get dramatically better results for low-income people, faster.

Below are some reflections on Day 2. You can read reflections from Day 1, and stay tuned for more lessons learned!

How Can You Use Data to Remove Barriers to Success?

The second day started with a conversation about racial equity. How to manage challenges related to biases and institutional racism has been an ongoing conversation between us and the TII sites. This session pared sites to discuss common racial equity challenges and workshop potential solutions. Many brought up the data tools and techniques discussed in Day 1 to help start and frame conversations about race.

From this conversation, we moved on to another common barrier facing our sites: How do you get the right players involved in your cross-sector partnership? The sites took the 3-6 year outcome they presented the day before and went through a “Results at the Center” exercise to help them determine who in their communities influence that outcome. By mapping out which individuals and organizations influence their outcome, they were able to determine who needs to be involved in their partnership and in what

TII Oct 2015: Results at the Center Group Activity

Learning Community Participants work with their site to complete the ‘Results at the Center’ exercise.

After giving the sites a few extra hours to work in teams, we closed out the day with action commitments for next steps after our two days of work together. Commitments varied from creating an outreach campaign for a set of stakeholders to getting partners to commit to specific, measurable goals to improving feedback loops with community members.

The learning across sites highlighted a few common themes, challenges and solutions. Here’s a summary of a few of the key takeaways from the discussion:

Key Takeaways:

  • Qualitative data is just as important as quantitative data. Often, qualitative data—such as the stated hopes and dreams of residents in the community—can help tell the story of an initiative better than “hard” numbers.
  • Trust is a major factor in talking about race, and improving racial equity outcomes. If you do not trust the people in your cross-sector collaboration, you cannot have the difficult conversations about how individuals need to change their behavior to reduce racial disparities.
  • People can be open to talking about racial disparities, even in very specific details, but very uncomfortable to committing to taking action to reducing these disparities. This is particularly challenging when organizations need to take responsibility for their contributions to disparities and change their behavior.
  • As the work of a cross-sector partnership evolves, the leaders of that partnership need to re-evaluate who is involved. You need different people in the partnership at different times, and as the context of the work changes people and organizations will play different roles. However, the community voice should always be incorporated into the partnership in some way.