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Ranked choice voting finds success in Utah in 2021

May 24, 2022

Voters in twenty Utah cities used ranked choice voting (RCV) for their local elections in 2021 as part of the state's RCV municipal pilot program. An additional three cities opted in to the pilot program but did not have enough declared candidates to need ranked ballots.Ranked choice ballots elected mayors and city councilors with broad support from the electorate, voters overwhelmingly chose to use the ranked ballot to express multiple preferences, voters reported that they liked using RCV, election integrity was upheld as results were confirmed in a recount, and state legislators have continued to express support for the program.

Extreme Gerrymanderers

February 22, 2022

Gerrymandering is the intentional practice of manipulating the boundaries of congressional districts to provide an unfair advantage for a specific party or group. The practice has increasingly created barriers to representative democracy and allows politicians to select their voters, rather than allowing voters to pick their politicians.New maps that create the boundaries between congressional districts are drawn every 10 years, following each decennial census. In the wake of the 2020 Census, state legislators crafted a number of hyperpartisan and discriminatory gerrymanders. This report highlights a dozen of the worst.

Perceptions of Democracy Survey

November 21, 2021

This survey polled Americans in five western states to find out how they feel about the state of democracy in America, perceptions on common ground, the state of media and misinformation, and views on the 2020 election and January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. This poll was conducted between September 24 - October 26 2021 among a sample of 1899 Adults in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of Adults in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming based on gender by age, educational attainment, race and ethnicity and 2020 presidential vote choice (including not voting).

The Power and Problem of Criminal Justice Data: A Twenty-State Review

June 30, 2021

Despite accounting for a substantial portion of local, state, and federal budgets, our criminal justice institutions are among the least measured systems in our country. In an effort to bring transparency to this sector, MFJ has collected, standardized, and made public 20 states' worth of criminal justice data.The purpose of this report is to share what we have learned through this effort, including: (a) what we cannot see when data are missing, and (b) the value that data can provide when they are available and comparable. In particular, we identify patterns around the following:There is a substantial lack of data around pretrial detention and release decision-making, as well as individual demographics (particularly indigence).New data privacy laws are also making it needlessly difficult to obtain certain data. This poses challenges to understanding how individuals experience the system in cases that do not result in conviction.There is great variation in how counties dispose of and sentence nonviolent cases; how financial obligations are imposed on individuals; and the collateral consequences that individuals face when convicted.Across many of these findings, where demographics are available, we have an opportunity to identify and respond to significant disparities in group outcomes.This report challenges stakeholders and policymakers to dig deeper into these patterns and missing data. It also implores policymakers and legislators to improve criminal justice data infrastructure to ensure a more transparent, fair, and equitable implementation of justice.

We are Spy Hop: Showing Up During COVID-19

June 17, 2020

During COVID-19, Spy Hop, a Utah-based youth media organization, effectively engaged several hundred young people in media arts education locally and nationally by swiftly pivoting to a bold experimental virtual approach. This ethnography conducted by Convergence Design Lab reports that while many youth-service organizations furloughed staff and paused operations during COVID-19, Spy Hop adapted to quickly deliver virtual programs to a geographically and age diverse population of youth.The report is a 16 page chronicle that vividly describes the challenges and decision-making process that occurred at Spy Hop between late March and early June 2020. The report finds that Spy Hop succeeded as a direct result of its facility with three particular organizational behaviors and that these behaviors shed light on what collective resilience looks like in action. Specifically, Convergence Design Lab observed Spy Hop:

The Work Speaks for Itself: Understanding the Impact of Youth Media

April 27, 2020

YOUTH WHO TAKE PART IN SPY HOP'S CORE AFTER-SCHOOL CLASSES LEARN DEEPLY. Students push themselves creatively and learn increasingly sophisticated skills in video, audio and music production. In the process, they gain confidence in their abilities and develop identities as creative artists. Spy Hop participants also learn in ways that go well beyond their mastery of a craft. They learn to work as part of a team to solve problems. They learn to think critically and assess their creative choices. They discover that they have a strong voice in their community.These additional skills and insights prepare students for success in whatever career field they choose. What's more, their Spy Hop experience empowers students to become more effective citizens. Youth who complete Spy Hop programming are well positioned to navigate a world of "fake news" and are more civically engaged than their peers.

Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis with Their Communities: Summary Report

October 29, 2019

The United States is experiencing an opioid epidemic, and public libraries across the country are choosing to respond to this public health emergency locally. As central community institutions open to all, public libraries are finding themselves on the front lines of the opioid crisis. Together with community partners, public libraries are providing critically needed information and services, organizing education and training events, and supporting prevention and recovery efforts.In response to the growing opioid crisis in the United States, OCLC and PLA sought to better understand how public libraries are responding to the opioid crisis locally with partners. Eight public libraries and their respective community partners participated in this research study, which is based on interviews with library staff, library board members, staff at community partner organizations, and members of the community.This summary report gathers the findings from the eight public libraries, sharing the opioid response activities that were implemented, the funding and partnerships leveraged to do so, outputs from the responses, and opportunities and challenges the libraries faced.This research surfaced the following as major outcomes of the libraries' response activities:increased relevant resources made available to the community, such as naloxone and drug disposal kitsmade a positive impact on patrons' livesincreased community awareness and knowledge about the opioid crisisbegan to address stigma about substance use disorderincreased positive perception of the librarydeveloped new partnerships and expanded existing ones, resulting in coordinated efforts that better meet community needsreached other libraries and community organizations

Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis with Their Communities: Case Studies

October 29, 2019

This report includes eight research-based case studies highlighting varying opioid response efforts across eight locations in the US.The libraries are:Barrington Public LibraryBlount County Public LibraryEverett Public LibraryKalamazoo Public LibraryNew Orleans Public LibraryPeoria Public LibrarySalt Lake County LibraryTwinsburg Public LibraryThe report details each library's response, the partnerships formed, reactions of the community, outcomes of the efforts, as well as challenges, needs, and opportunities.  

We Choose to Be Here: Spy Hop's 2016-2017 Evaluation Report

March 30, 2018

Youth who take part in Spy Hop's core programs in video, audio, and music production and design benefit from access to professional-grade facilities and technology. With the support of mentors who are professionals in their chosen discipline, Spy Hop youth collaborate with their peers to produce high-quality media works for authentic audiences. In the process, they learn critical skills that prepare them for college and careers. But just as importantly, they develop meaningful relationships with each other and with caring adults — and they learn how to become engaged and empowered citizens in their communities. They discover that they have a voice in shaping public attitudes and opinions.Spy Hop's programs have a tremendous impact on the youth who take part in them, but also the community as a whole. In our study of Spy Hop's core programs during 2016-17, Convergence Design Lab observed that youth participants became more adept at thinking creatively and expressing themselves through media arts. They gained future-ready skills such as communication, collaboration, problem solving, and planning for success. And they developed meaningful, cross-cultural connections. What's more, as Spy Hop participants amplified their voices through digital media creation, audiences gained new perspectives they didn't have before. The entirecommunity benefited from the civic engagement of Spy Hop youth. These outcomes can be traced back to Spy Hop's exemplary approach to youth development, called the Spy Hop Way — as we will detail in the pages that follow.

Characteristics of Rural and Non-Rural Districts in Utah from 2012 to 2017

January 1, 2018

To help inform education stakeholders in Utah, this REL West study examined the differences in characteristics between rural and non-rural districts in the state from fiscal year 2012 through fiscal year 2017 using administrative data from the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah Education Association.

The Giving State: A Report on Utah's Philanthropic Landscape

December 11, 2017

The Giving State is the first ever statewide data-driven report published on philanthropy and the social sector. Utah is poised to lead the nation in giving, not only in volume but in excellence as well. This report is a tool to help us reflect, foster ongoing dialogue, and spark ideas of tangible steps we can take toward excellence.Now is the time to harness Utah's innovative spirit to ensure a thriving future for our communities. After all, if we use our best thinking to address the issues we care about most, we'll ensure our investments of time and money are successful in achieving our greatest hopes for the world.

Innovative Community Health Worker Strategies: Medicaid Payment Models for Community Health Worker Home Visits

December 1, 2017

Due to mounting evidence that community health workers (CHWs) can improve health outcomes, increase access to health care, and control medical costs, states are increasingly engaging their CHW workforce to replicate those successes at the state level. However, the policies and programs that regulate and pay for CHWs differ dramatically across states, and states facing difficulties advancing CHW initiatives can gain insights from the experiences of other programs across the country.The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) recently up-dated its State Community Health Worker Models Map, and is currently identifying innovative state strategies that have helped CHW initiatives meet their goals. This case study, which explores payment models for CHWs conducting home visits in Minnesota, New York, Utah, and Washington State, is the second in a series of products that highlight those CHW program strategies.