Equity Counts: Utilizing Data for Impact


In our new report, Equity Counts: Using Data to Increase Equity and Improve Metric Outcomes for Opportunity Youth, we look at the first-year impact of our Equity Counts (EC) data use initiative.

EC launched in the fall of 2018, supported by a $1 million dollar investment from Ballmer Group, and in partnership with Equal Measure (our OYF technical assistance and evaluation partner) and 17 of the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions (FCS) Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) network communities. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to utilize collected data as a way to increase quality of services and accelerate improved and more equitable outcomes for opportunity youth.

With most efforts to track opportunity youth and related service provisions fraught with logistical and technical challenges that make consistency nearly impossible, EC focused on establishing a new standardized approach to collecting and analyzing OYF network-wide opportunity youth data at the community level, including disaggregating data to understand how specific subgroups of youth are doing, and to look more closely at inequity of outcomes. Additionally, Equity Counts seeks to improve outcomes and deepen impact by tracking youth reconnection consistently across communities and over time.

During Equity Counts, we developed four uniquely segmented OYF Common Measures that will be used to create a baseline data analysis for our network. These measures include:

  • Overall Community Disconnection Rate: The rate of young people disconnected from work and school (opportunity youth).
  • High School Disconnection Rate: The rate of young people without a high school diploma/GED and not working who are disconnected from high school.
  • Postsecondary Disconnection Rate: The rate of young people with a high school diploma/GED, without a postsecondary credential who are disconnected from postsecondary education and not working.
  • Workforce Disconnection Rate: The rate of young people with a postsecondary credential, but not enrolled in postsecondary, who are disconnected from the workforce.

Initial analysis was tested with six communities which served as data collection pilot sites in our first year. These communities included: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Santa Clara (Calif.), Oakland, and Philadelphia. Future work will include providing this baseline data analysis and supports to the entire OYF network to continue to build skills associated with improved use of data for decision making. In addition, Ballmer Group support will enable the Forum for Community Solutions to go deep with a handful of community partners to build out dramatically improved data capacity at both the community and partner level.

This expanded focus includes looking at partner level data, allowing for new analyses of how local systems, processes, and funding are contributing to outcomes at the community and individual program or participant level. Ultimately, this process will allow the Forum for Community Solutions to identify and target how we leverage national resources across the OYF to achieve the most significant and deepest impact in improving outcomes for opportunity youth.

Click here to read the Executive Summary.

Click here to read the full report.

Additionally, to learn about more how the OYF Common Measures were developed to track and analyze the opportunity youth population, here is a technical guide from Equal Measure titled, Equity Counts: Development of Common Measures. Equal Measure also developed the report, Equity Counts: Tracking Opportunity Youth Outcomes which introduces the set of measures—the OYF Common Measures—underscoring this initiative, the importance of creating these measures for communities and for the broader field, and the challenges of this effort.