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For the Community, By the Community: The We Count LA Impact Story

February 10, 2021

Participation in the census is critical to the well-being of future generations of Los Angeles County. Census data plays an integral role in influencing the allocation of millions of dollars in federal funding for vital services and programs for our communities — from schools and hospitals to housing and roads. The census also determines the number of congressional members sent to the Capitol to represent our region, making an accurate count in Los Angeles County profoundly important.In a landmark effort, California Community Foundation (CCF) convened a powerful coalition of 115+ community-based organizations (CBOs) across the region to count historically under-counted populations, coordinated and united under one region-wide campaign: We Count LA. As trusted messengers with deep relationships and connections in their respective communities, these CBOs would be the faces and voices of the census, encouraging the diverse and vulnerable communities of Los Angeles County to participate in the 2020 Census. Amid the unforeseen global and national events of 2020, this task became seemingly impossible. Yet the unifying force of community resilience pushed the We Count LA campaign to become responsive, adaptive and innovative in trying to accomplish its goals.

The Gender Disadvantage: Why Inequity Persists

March 13, 2019

Poverty does not treat everyone equally. Women, children, gender minorities, and people of color are often the hardest hit. And while women in poverty experience the same issues that all people in poverty experience—income inequality, unemployment, poor health, violence, trauma, and more—the odds are often uniquely stacked against them in gendered ways.There are 6.5 million women. and an estimated 50,000 trans people living in Illinois. They are a driving force in our economy and care for our children, sick, and elderly, and yet continue to face discrimination and inequitable opportunities. This year's annual report on poverty in Illinois shows how gender, gender identity, and gender norms shape experiences of poverty for women and gender minorities—and how women who have other marginalized identities experience even more inequity. If we want to dramatically reduce poverty, improving the well-being of women— particularly women of color—would deliver the biggest return.

Handcuffs in Hallways: The State of Policing in Chicago Public Schools

February 1, 2017

The relationship between law enforcement and schools in the United States has evolved significantly over the last 60 years. Law enforcement officers, now commonly known as School Resource Officers (SROs), have been permanently assigned to schools in various cities since 1953. Spurred by increases in federal funding, the practice has grown significantly in the last two decades. Although evidence has shown that these officers' presence did not improve school safety, by 1997, approximately 9,446 SROs were assigned to schools throughout the country.Research shows that the mere presence of police officers in school increases the likelihood that a student will be referred to law enforcement for adolescent behavior. School-based arrests, which fall more harshly on students of color, put students in direct contact with the justice system. Poor policing within schools therefore puts students on the fast track to the school-to-prison pipeline.Chicago, a city with a long history of troubled policing, has seen similar growth in the use of police in schools. As of April 2016, 248 police officers were assigned to 75 primary and secondary schools within the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). These officers are not required to have any specialized training other than a working knowledge of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Code of Conduct.This paper examines the history of school-based policing, its current state, and best practices for school-based safety, with a focus on school policing in the Chicago Public Schools. Because of current problems related to the presence of police officers in schools, it is our recommendation that law enforcement should not be permanently assigned to the Chicago Public Schools. Police should only be contacted when there is a real, immediate threat to a student, a teacher, or public safety. CPS should collaborate with local community stakeholders to define the role of School Resource Officers in the context of the educational mission of our schools. It's time to rethink the role of these law enforcement officers in ensuring safety and security for our school children

A Window Of Opportunity II: An Analysis of Public Opinion on Poverty

October 4, 2016

This report examines existing polling and survey data in an effort to identify major attitudinal shifts, lasting challenges,and opportunities for advocates and leaders seeking to advance anti-poverty narratives and policies.

Transforming The System

August 15, 2016

Our criminal justice system must keep all communities safe, foster prevention and rehabilitation, and ensure fair and equal justice. But in too many places, and in too many ways, our system is falling short of that mandate and with devastating consequences. The UnitedStates is saddled with an outdated, unfair, and bloated criminal justice system that drains resources and disrupts communities.The U.S. prison population has swelled to unprecedented levels,2  and unequal, unjustified treatment based on race and ethnicity is well documented.3  People of color, particularly Native American, African American, and Latino people, have felt the impact of discrimination within the criminal justice system. As of 2012, there were 2.2 million people incarcerated in the UnitedStates, costing our nation $80 billion—funds that could go to worthier options, such as education and community enrichment.4 In addition, many immigrants experience mandatory detention, racial profiling, and due process violations because of laws and policies that violate their human rights—and the principles of equal justice, fair treatment, and proportionality under our criminal justice system.The good news is that we as a nation are at a unique moment in which there is strong public, bipartisan support for criminal justice reform,5  positive policy developments in many parts of the country, and mass action and social movements for change, including the Movement for Black Lives and Black Lives Matter. More is needed, however, to move from positive trends to transformative, lasting change. There is a lack of positive solutions and alternatives in public discourse, and inadequate coordination among pro-reform advocates and commentators. Several interviewees for The Opportunity Agenda's Criminal Justice Report, including leadingcriminal justice and civil rights activists, scholars, and government officials, noted that they often work in silos on their discrete issues with limited collaboration among sectors. They identified a need for a more coordinated and sophisticated effort that would consolidate the gains that have been made and support sustained reform efforts going forward. This is doubly true at the intersection of criminal justice and immigration. While grassroots movements are increasingly working across these sectors, the issues are often disconnected in public discourse. 

Racism's Toll: Report on Illinois Poverty

February 3, 2016

Poverty rates are two to three times higher for Illinoisans of color, and people of color fare far worse on nearly every measure of well-being. In the latest of its annual reports on poverty, "Racism's Toll," Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center lays bare the moral, human, and economic cost of the deep inequities in the state and calls out public policies that have and are actively creating these racial inequities.

Poor by Comparison: Report on Illinois Poverty

January 29, 2015

A report that examines how Illinois compares to other states on over 25 key metrics associated with poverty and hardship. In addition to addressing the state budget's structural deficit and tax policy, the report offers additional recommendations that, if implemented, would help ensure the people of Illinois can live the best lives possible and make Illinois more competitive in the process.

Data Matters: Chicago's Babies

October 31, 2014

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The Social IMPACT Research Center took a look at infant mortality rates and low birth weight rates of Chicago Community Areas and compared these data to the public health goals as outlined in the Chicago Department of Public Health's Healthy Chicago 2020 agenda, to see how Chicago babies were faring on these health indicators.

Chicago Neighborhood Indicators 2000-2012

May 2, 2014

Key statistics for Chicago neighborhoods from 2000-2012, including the following indicators:Chicago Community Areas by Race and EthnicityIndividuals in Households with Incomes below 100% FPL (Poverty)Individuals in Households with Incomes below 50% FPL (Extreme Poverty)Individuals in Households with Incomes from 100 to 199% FPL (Low Income)Educational Attainment of Population Age 25+Renter Households Paying Over 30% of Income on Housing CostsRenter Households Paying Over 50% of Income on Housing CostsHouseholds Receiving Cash Public AssistanceHouseholds Receiving SNAP (Food Stamps)Employment Status of the Population Age 16+Poverty Status by Family Type

Cool Response: The SEC & Corporate Climate Change Reporting

February 10, 2014

Climate change and its regulation pose significant risks and opportunities to investors and corporations. The nearly $30 billion in insured losses from Hurricane Sandy alone dramatically underscore this reality. New climate-related federal and state regulations in recent years also present risks and opportunities to companies in the electric power, coal, oil & gas,transportation and insurance sectors. Investors seek greater transparency and disclosure on the business risks of climate change as a means to protect and increase shareholder value.The key regulator that leads federal efforts to provide investors with information about corporaterisks and opportunities is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). At the heart of the SEC's mission is the protection of investors through meaningful corporate reporting:The laws and rules that govern the securities industry in the United States derive from a simpleand straightforward concept: all investors, whether large institutions or private individuals,should have access to certain basic facts about an investment prior to buying it, and so longas they hold it. To achieve this, the SEC requires public companies to disclose meaningfu lfinancial and other information to the public. Only through the steady flow of timely,comprehensive, and accurate information can people make sound investment decisions. The SEC recognized the financial impacts of climate change when it issued Interpretive Guidance on climate disclosure in February 2010, responding to over 100 institutional investors representing $7 trillion who supported the Guidance. The Guidance outlines expectations from companies in reporting on "material" regulatory, physical, and indirect risks and opportunities related to climate change.This report examines the state of such corporate reporting and associated SEC comment letters on climate change. It also provides recommendations for the SEC and companies on improving the quality of reporting. The report examines (1) the state of S&P 500 reporting onclimate disclosure and (2) SEC comment letters addressing climate disclosure from 2010 to the end of 2013.

50 Years Later: Report on Illinois Poverty

January 31, 2014

America holds a long-cherished reputation as a land of opportunity. Yet 50 years ago, more than one in five Americans lived in poverty. To combat this soaring inequality, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a War on Poverty in his 1964 State of the Union address. The War on Poverty was part and parcel of Johnson's Great Society, a set of programs and policies designed to tackle social problems of the day. Fifty years later, how much progress has been made?Half a century after our country committed to an "unconditional war on poverty," it's high time to recalibrate the war to fit 2014 realities. To that end, this report provides an unprecedented snapshot of the last 50 years and uses data on the modern face of poverty in Illinois to inform the retooling of existing solutions and spur new innovations to help end poverty.

Poverty Matters: It's Now 50/50, Chicago Region Poverty Growth is a Suburban Story

September 5, 2013

Nationwide, the number of people in poverty in the suburbs has now surpassed the number of people in poverty in central cities. Cities have long been thought to be home to the most and worst poverty. However, in the past several decades, the suburbs have experienced the greatest growth in poverty. In this brief, the Social IMPACT Research Center examines the distribution of poverty in Chicago and the suburbs over two decades. The findings suggest that from 1990 to 2011, poverty grew much more in the suburbs than in Chicago, and consequently, poverty became more equally distributed between Chicago and the suburbs.