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Water as a Public Good: Pittsburgh's Our Water Campaign

February 8, 2022

This case study is part of Demos's new Economic Democracy project, which asks how poor and working-class people, especially in Black and brown communities, can exercise greater control over the economic institutions that shape their lives. This framework has 3 goals:Break up and regulate new corporate power, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook.Expand the meaning of public goods and ensure that services are equitably and publicly administered.Strengthen "co-governance" strategies so that people and public agencies can collectively make decisions about the economy.This case study showcases all 3 of these priorities. It explores how a local coalition in Pittsburgh, PA, organized both within and outside the government to prevent the privatization of the area's water supply. To better understand this work, we interviewed community organizers of the "Our Water" campaign and employees of the mayor's office and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, the agency that oversees the city's water system. We also reviewed news coverage and reports that followed the community as it organized to fight privatization and to participate in decisions about their basic needs.

Economic Democracy Case Studies

February 8, 2022

The Economic Democracy Project at Demos envisions liberation for Black and brown people. This requires us to address inequities in economic, political, and institutional power. The concept of economic democracy recognizes that everyone deserves a stake in the system and that the economy should exist to serve the people—the demos. In a moment in which a corporate ruling class exploits racial and class divisions to dodge accountability and accumulate power, preserving our democracy requires creating opportunities for the public to lead and shape economic outcomes.The Economic Democracy Project aims to highlight and develop strategies that Black and brown communities can use to build economic and political power. It has 3 priorities:Break up and regulate new corporate power, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook.Expand the meaning of public goods and ensure that services are equitably and publicly administered.Strengthen "co-governance" strategies so that people and public agencies can collectively make decisions about the economy.The case studies outlined here spotlight 4 community campaigns working across the U.S. to reclaim power over economic resources.

Supporting Career and Technical Education in Peoria and Pittsburgh

October 8, 2021

Between 2015 and 2018, the AFT Innovation Fund supported innovative career and technical education (CTE) efforts in four communities: Miami, Peoria, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. This report focuses on the priorities, activities and outcomes achieved in two of those communities: Pittsburgh and Peoria. These two communities used three years of grant funding to the local teachers unions to launch, strengthen and build out two very different approaches to modernizing high school CTE efforts. There is much to learn from each community—about the power of collaboration and partnership, of combining top-down and bottom-up innovation, and the role of leadership. In the current environment, with public and policymaker interest in career preparation and experiential learning in high school still cresting, the AFT believes that the stories of CTE modernization in Peoria and Pittsburgh can be instructive for other communities as they think about how best to serve diverse student populations so that high school can reduce rather than exacerbate education inequities.

Learning to Build Police-Community Trust Implementation Assessment Findings from the Evaluation of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice

September 8, 2019

This research report documents the training, policy development, and reconciliation activities of the six cities that took part in the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, an effort to promote more equitable, just, and respectful policing practices and improve relationships and trust between law enforcement and community members. We found that the training component of the Initiative, which exposed officers to concepts of procedural justice and implicit bias, was implemented as intended and was well received by officers. In addition, the reconciliation framework used to improve relationships between police and communities was powerful and impactful, leading police departments to make changes to their policies to build trust and institutionalize improvements to practices. We also observed that local contexts affected the implementation process, with factors such as police leadership stability and the dynamics underlying relations between police, political leadership, and the community facilitating or impeding progress.

Improving Teaching Effectiveness: Final Report - The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching Through 2015-2016

July 5, 2018

The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative, designed and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was a multiyear effort to dramatically improve student outcomes by increasing students' access to effective teaching. Participating sites adopted measures of teaching effectiveness (TE) that included both a teacher's contribution to growth in student achievement and his or her teaching practices assessed with a structured observation rubric. The TE measures were to be used to improve staffing actions, identify teaching weaknesses and overcome them through effectiveness-linked professional development (PD), and employ compensation and career ladders (CLs) as incentives to retain the most-effective teachers and have them support the growth of other teachers. The developers believed that these mechanisms would lead to more-effective teaching, greater access to effective teaching for low-income minority (LIM) students, and greatly improved academic outcomes.Beginning in 2009–2010, three school districts -- Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) in Florida; Memphis City Schools (MCS) in Tennessee (which merged with Shelby County Schools, or SCS, during the initiative); and Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) in Pennsylvania -- and four charter management organizations (CMOs) -- Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Aspire Public Schools, Green Dot Public Schools, and Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) Schools -- participated in the Intensive Partnerships initiative. RAND and the American Institutes for Research conducted a six-year evaluation of the initiative, documenting the policies and practices each site enacted and their effects on student outcomes. This is the final evaluation report.

Racial Equity & Arts Funding in Greater Pittsburgh

May 7, 2018

Why this research project, and why now? There is urgency to this inquiry. It is written against the real-world backdrop of patterns of cultural appropriation, omission, and exclusion in the Pittsburgh area arts community dating back decades. Racial Equity and Arts Funding in Greater Pittsburgh is an opportunity to promote understanding about past and current practices regarding race and arts funding in Greater Pittsburgh. It is an inquiry into how resources, in the form of competitive grants programs by public arts agencies and private foundations, are distributed.This report offers recommendations on how equity issues can be addressed through revisions to grantmaking policies and procedures, with the goal of making some features common practice among all funders, both public and private. Recommendations include broader initiatives that go beyond grantmaking processes to policy shifts and special programs.

Giant Eagle and UPMC: Investing in Young Adults with Disabilities

October 1, 2017

Giant Eagle and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center face different types of challenges in recruiting, training and retaining workers, but both have found young adults with disabilities to be a key, and often overlooked, source of talent. Both employers have developed strategies for hiring and retaining young adults with disabilities which have helped their organizations tackle these challenges and thrive.

Not Just Money: Equity Issues in Cultural Philanthropy

July 1, 2017

This report summarizes the main findings of the recent research, revisiting the reasons why addressing diversity and equity issues in the cultural sector matters more than ever and reviewing six key findings related to national and local patterns of funding distribution, the demographics of people making funding decisions, and the distinct issues facing cultural organizations whose primary artistic mission is to serve communities of color or low-income communities. It concludes with suggestions for how to speed progress toward a more inclusive and equitable system of cultural philanthropy.

Inequities Affecting Black Girls in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County

October 6, 2016

The Heinz Endowments, in partnership with the FISA Foundation, commissioned Data Snapshot: Inequities Affecting Black Girls in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to draw attention to alarming gender and racial disparities that Black girls in our region face and to highlight the unique ways in which Black girls experience institutional racism and sexism.

Equitable Development: The Path to an All-In Pittsburgh

September 16, 2016

Now is Pittsburgh's moment for equitable development, and its leaders must commit to implementing the recommendations in this report and ensuring everyone is a part of the new Pittsburgh. As this report illustrates, there are viable strategies that leaders in government, business, community development, and philanthropy can undertake to address racial inequities and put all residents on track to reaching their potential, starting with baking equity in to its new development projects and reaching across its institutional landscape and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Just as Pittsburgh has embraced its identity as a tech-forward region, it should—and can—be a frontrunner on equitable development.

Taking Stock: The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching Through 2013–2014

September 7, 2016

In response to research showing the critical role that teachers play in student learning and the inadequate job that districts have historically done judging teachers' effectiveness, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative. The initiative involves three school districts (Hillsborough County Public Schools [HCPS] in Florida, Memphis City Schools [MCS] in Tennessee,1 and Pittsburgh Public Schools [PPS] in Pennsylvania) and four charter management organizations (CMOs) based in California (Aspire Public Schools, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Green Dot Public Schools, and Partnerships to Uplift Communities Schools). These sites have worked over a multiyear period to align teacher evaluation, staffing, professional development, compensation, and careerladder policies to boost teaching effectiveness and increase low-income minority (LIM) students' access to effective teaching.2 The initiative's goal is dramatic gains in student achievement, graduation rates, and collegegoing, especially for LIM students. At the core of these changes is each site's adoption of a definition of effective teaching and development of a rigorous measure of effectiveness that combined classroom observation, gains in student achievement, and other factors to rate every teacher. Each site used its vision of effective teaching and the new evaluation metrics to improve its management of its teacher workforce, including hiring, placement, professional development and support, compensation, retention, and career advancement.

Trends in Impact on Student Outcomes: The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching Through 2013–2014

September 7, 2016

In school year 2009–2010, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative, a $290 million project aimed at improving student achievement through more-effective management and support of the teacher workforce. The foundation identified seven Intensive Partnership sites—three school districts and four CMOs—to implement, over a six-year period, reforms covering teacher evaluation, staffing, professional development, and compensation and career ladders.Sites began planning and implementing the reforms during the 2009–2010 school year, and most elements were in place in some form by 2012–2013. However, the sites continued to add new components and fine-tune their strategies after 2012–2013, and foundation support continues through the 2015–2016 school year.This report describes results through 2013–2014. Because implementation unfolded over time, it is not clear when to expect to see initial effects on student outcomes. Initial effects might be expected by 2012–2013, when many components were in place, but effects might be expected to grow as the components are implemented more completely and transform practice more deeply.