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Climate Change and Rural Water for Frontline Communities in the Southwest United States

March 26, 2024

This issue brief provides an overview of the escalating threat climate change poses to rural water for frontline communities in the Southwest United States. This region, defined by the US National Climate Assessment's 6-state area (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah), is facing increasing water challenges due to prolonged droughts, extreme temperatures, groundwater depletion, wildfire, flooding, and reduced mountain snowpack. The brief delves into the observed and projected impacts of climate change, emphasizing the disproportionate risks faced by Latino, Hispanic, and Indigenous populations in these areas. Through this issue brief, the authors also aim to highlight the need for innovative strategies and approaches necessary to build equitable, climate-resilient rural water systems.

Data Science for Water Justice: Climate Change and Drought in the Colorado River Basin

April 18, 2023

Climate change threatens the hydrological cycle the globe over, increasing the likelihood of extreme events and dramatically altered ecosystems. The impacts of these events are most felt by those least able to adapt or move away from them. This paper uses a global framework to identify key data science engagement points, and illustrates these points in the case of the Colorado River Basin (CRB), a social-ecological system that provides a case study emblematic of many climate change accelerated water justice challenges.

Practical Guidance: What Nonprofits Need to Know About Lobbying in Utah

February 22, 2023

Bolder Advocacy's Practical Guidance – What Nonprofits Need to Know About Lobbying state law resource series is designed to help nonprofits determine if lobbying rules in their state might apply to their state or local work, and if they do, how best to navigate them!Each Guide Includes:Summary of lobbyist registration and reporting triggers in the stateKey critical takeaways for nonprofit organizationsFAQs – giving practical perspective on how to interact with the state rulesCase study for a hypothetical small student voting rights organizationList of helpful additional resourcesWho are these Guides For?Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations: Leaders and staff of nonprofit organizations that work on (or are thinking about working on) advocacy initiatives at the state or local levelLawyers: Lawyers and compliance professionals interested in working with nonprofit advocacy organizations doing state and local level workFunders: Funding organizations working to ensure strong organizational capacity and infrastructure for the groups they fund doing advocacy work at the state and local level

Youth Media Still Matters: Elevating the Voices and Identities of Young People in Disruptive Times

July 25, 2022

When schools, colleges and youth organizations shut down en masse in March 2020 in response to the emerging pandemic, none of us had any idea what lay ahead. Amid all the uncertainty, one thing quickly became clear: With opportunities to meet in person sharply curtailed, teens and young adults needed new outlets to connect, collaborate and find their creative voice more than ever.Using Zoom and other digital platforms, Spy Hop mentors delivered instruction remotely and students collaborated virtually on projects and performances. While the experience wasn't always the same, Spy Hop programming was able to reach a larger group of students who were no longer limited from participating by their geography.Through surveys, interviews and focus groups with Spy Hop mentors and students, we have assembled a comprehensive picture of the outcomes from Spy Hop programming in 2020 and 2021. In the course of our evaluation, we have found that Spy Hop continues to play an invaluable role in youth development and media skills.While Spy Hop programming continues to have indelible and far-reaching effects on youth participants in Utah and beyond, we believe the organization can deepen its impact even further by following a few suggestions. These include supporting youth employment opportunities beyond high school, broadening access to Spy Hop for students with fewer resources and being more intentional about mentor development.

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.