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Mutual Accountability Is the Key to Equity-Oriented Systems Change: How Initiatives Can Create Durable Shifts in Policies and Practices

October 5, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic and protests arising from police killings of Black Americans have drawn national attention to long-existent and worsening racialized gaps in health, wealth, and well-being that decades of investment and problem solving have been unable to close. Responding to amplified calls from communities and advocates for meaningful change, some philanthropic organizations are reexamining what and how they fund. We present findings from one such effort by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in partnership with the Urban Institute to assess the funder's health-promoting portfolio of investments in community development organizations and activities.This brief presents a framework for grantmakers seeking to understand why some past efforts have fallen short and how future investments might produce more equity-oriented, power-shifting systems change. Urban analyzed a portion of RWJF's portfolio consisting of 15 health-promoting programs and investments launched between 2013 and 2019 that aimed to integrate public health, health care, and community development to improve community health, well-being, and equity. As part of the assessment, we developed a guiding framework that proved critical to our inquiry. We were able to road-test the model as we synthesized insights from dozens of interviews with grantees and partners, community development intermediaries, and philanthropic leaders and staff. The mutual accountability framework allowed us to disentangle intended goals, necessary commitments, and actual results to think about the ways these three elements may—or may not be—aligned.

Catalyzing Policing Reform with Data: Policing Typology for Los Angeles Neighborhoods

May 1, 2020

Thie report presents a typology of community-police interactions, revealing patterns in how calls to police and police activity differ across neighborhoods. It also discusses how this neighborhood-policing typology can inform conversations about police reform and support local movements for a more equitable criminal justice system. 

The Foreclosure Crisis and Children: A Three-City Study

January 31, 2012

Examines the characteristics of children in foreclosed homes, the likelihood of their moving to another neighborhood and/or changing schools, changes in school quality, and how school mobility affects student test scores. Outlines policy implications.

A Guide to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data

December 31, 2008

Provides an overview of the home mortgage application data lenders are required to report and explains how to analyze trends in neighborhood investment, buyers' racial and economic composition, disparities in home loan access, and subprime lending.

Have MTO Families Lost Access to Opportunity Neighborhoods Over Time?

March 1, 2008

Reviews research on families who moved to lower-poverty areas through the Moving to Opportunity program, using new data and broader indicators to assess whether their subsequent moves were also to better neighborhoods from which the families benefited.

Concentrated Poverty: Dynamics of Change

August 1, 2007

Compares metropolitan census tracts that improved with respect to poverty in the 1990s with those that worsened, looking at the racial composition of both types and in different types of metropolitan areas nationally.

2006 Housing in the Nation's Capital

October 5, 2006

Explores the interdependent relationship between public school systems and housing markets, and examines the ability of coordinated investment in affordable housing and quality education to revitalize Washington, D.C., metropolitan area neighborhoods.

Concentrated Poverty: A Change in Course

May 1, 2003

Examines how the distribution of concentrated poverty in metropolitan areas has shifted in the past two decades, using data from the Neighborhood Change Database.

Population Growth and Decline in City Neighborhoods

December 1, 2002

Analyzes how neighborhoods in the nation's largest cities grew and declined in the 1990s and how those results compared with patterns of change in the 1980s, based on data from the U.S. Census and the Neighborhood Change Database.