The Forum for Community Solutions defines equity as just and fair inclusion in a society in which all can participate, prosper and reach their full potential. Collectively, we know what works. We recognize that the antidote to fear, hate, inequity, and injustice is to dismantle structural racism and design systems of inclusion. We endeavor to infuse equity throughout all our initiatives and projects, including the following three efforts.
Youth Leadership: “Nothing About Us Without Us”
Because the work we do is grounded in equity, the Forum for Community Solutions and the Opportunity Youth Forum make youth leadership a central pillar of our work. We believe that young people have the right to represent their own interests, identify their challenges, and design their own solutions to issues that most impact them. We seek to ensure that youth expertise and youth-led change are centered at the core of the opportunity youth movement. Please visit our Youth Leadership page to learn more about our work in this area.
Equity Counts/Data For Impact: How You Measure and Who You Measure Matters
Our data work to promote equity is called Data For Impact, based on earlier work known as Equity Counts. Funded with support from The Ballmer Group, these efforts assist Opportunity Youth Forum member communities to increase their capacities for data collection and data use, with a focus on utilizing data to promote equitable outcomes. While data and measurement might seem like mundane topics to focus on, we believe they can be fundamental to understanding inequities, and in designing and assessing new efforts that aim to increase equity. In our work focused on opportunity youth, for example, we want to make sure that if conditions are be improving for youth overall, we want to also make sure that all different demographics of youth (for example, by gender or by race) are seeing improvements. The Data For Impact and Equity Counts initiatives are designed to, over time, build the ability to perform such analyses and use the data to promote program and systems changes.
Opportunity Youth Forum: Putting Equity at the Center
We have the pleasure to partner with over 40 communities across the U.S. who are working hard to improve the lives of young adults in their communities. A special emphasis of theirs, and of ours and the Opportunity Youth Forum, is on equity. Our recent report, Putting Equity at the Center profiles work from many of these communities, and gives specific examples of activities and areas of success. Overall, the report recommends four common ways that these communities bring a focus on equity:
- Creating a culture of equity across the local community.
- Using disaggregated data to document and track disparities.
- Focusing on priority populations (such as foster-care youth or boys and men of color) to address the effects of structural inequity.
- Challenging existing institutionalized barriers.