Our Equity Journey

The development of our organizational values prompted our leadership and staff to examine all aspects of our organization and practices to identify how we can be more equitable and inclusive in our work.

At the same time, we began thinking intentionally about the ethics of the research process and how to ensure that the practice and results of our research best serve those we aim to help. Chicago Beyond’s report Why Am I Always Being Researched? shined a light on this issue. The report, in conjunction with feedback from some of our program partners, prompted us to consider our position as researchers and challenged us to conduct more community-engaged research.

In addition, the events of the summer of 2020, including the murder of George Floyd and resulting protests, spurred our organization to make a firm commitment to engage in research that is antiracist in its approach. We have also begun developing practices to increase equity and inclusion for staff members and for the community members that we serve.

The practices below highlight some of the ways we have infused equity and inclusion into our work, as well as some aspirational goals toward which we are actively working. As a learning organization, we commit to updating these practices and goals as we continue reflecting on the work necessary to live up to our name.

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Improving equity and inclusivity in hiring

  • Improved recruitment processes to include additional venues to increase diversity of applicant pool

  • Established a group committee process to review application materials

  • Rewrote screening questions to probe for must-have competencies and commitment to racial equity and inclusion

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Educating staff through facilitated discussion and professional development

  • Ensured all management staff can attend professional development training with focus on racial equity (via The Management Center)

  • Introduced all-staff monthly reading groups to develop a shared understanding of systemic inequities undergirding our work

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Using asset framing in our work 

  • Updated our name with community and partner input

  • Hosted an all-staff racial literacy and asset-framing training that led to revising project descriptions and deliverables

  • Developing a process to include editing for asset framing in all written materials

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Incorporating antiracist principles in the research process

  • Developed a racial equity reflection for all projects to discuss root causes, theories of change, and potential to engage communities most impacted
  • Developed an asset framing scan to consider how we position community members in the evaluations that we conduct


Improving community engagement in the research process

  • Received training from Office of Civic Engagement to prepare for more mindful community engagement
  • Developed project management tools to improve community engagement practices throughout different phases of the research and dissemination process

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Developing an organizational culture that values individuals' needs outside of work

  • Encouraging staff to use time outside of work to volunteer, attend community events, and express first amendment rights
  • Reminding staff to make time for self-care and prioritize their physical and mental well-being

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