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Stories from the Frontier: Breakthroughs, Challenges, and Recommendations from the First Five Years of Open 990 Data

April 6, 2022

Open data projects have been in existence for decades, especially as the amount of data stored on computers throughout the world has skyrocketed. Accessibility to that data is at the heart of these efforts, as public and private entities work to make data freely available and useful to the public. Also critical is the role that freely available data in general -- and public or government data in particular — play in accountability and transparency in government, as well as increasing both public participation and public awareness. As one interviewee noted, "Data makes it clear that the earth rotates around the sun — not the sun around the earth. Data can lay plain the places where our worldview needs to change."The Open 990 Project of the Aspen Institute and its partners represents a giant leap forward, providing nonprofits a connected, data-informed future. After only five years, there are compelling examples available from individuals, nonprofits, and collaboratives alike of how the Open 990 Project is seeding and empowering change throughout the nonprofit sector. A large number of websites, projects, researchers, governments, and companies are now using IRS Forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-PF data (hereafter, "990 data") to redesign how they work and how they engage with stakeholders.

NeuroArts Blueprint: Advancing the Science of Arts, Health, and Wellbeing

March 30, 2022

Scientific studies increasingly confirm what human beings across cultures and throughout time have long recognized: we are wired for art. The arts in all of their modalities can improve our physical and mental health, amplify our ability to prevent, manage, or recover from disease challenges, enhance brain development in children, build more equitable communities, and foster wellbeing through multiple biological systems.Most of us do not need rigorous research to recognize that arts and aesthetic experiences allow us to feel better; our own life experiences tell us that engaging with art, either as maker or user, can help us thrive. Why, then, have we developed the NeuroArts Blueprint: Advancing the Science of Arts, Health, and Wellbeing, a broad-reaching initiative designed to showcase the scientific evidence that explains these phenomena?The answer is that we have not developed the systems and strategies to use the extraordinary asset that is at our disposal to its fullest potential. We need a Blueprint to guide us through the vast body of knowledge that is accumulating across multiple disciplines, to identify collaborative opportunities to collect many kinds of evidence, and to employ these learnings in systematic and sustainable ways so that we can ease some of the most intractable problems that humanity faces. 

Disparities in Debt: Why Debt is a Driver in the Racial Wealth Gap

February 7, 2022

Racial wealth inequality has been pervasive in the United States from the earliest days of colonization 400 years ago. Despite Constitutional guarantees of equality and numerous anti-discrimination laws, racial wealth gaps not only remain but some are growing. Scholars, policymakers, and others have deeply investigated the historical roots and current drivers of racial wealth inequality in the United States. Most analyses focus on total asset holdings, intergenerational transfers, or disparities in specific assets (such as home equity). Media coverage and social narratives about racial wealth gaps similarly tend to concentrate on assets.Less attention has been paid to the other side of the household balance sheet: debt. Although there has been analysis of racial disparities in mortgages, and recent research has illuminated the role of student loans in widening the wealth gap between Black and white households, debt remains under-appreciated as a driver of racial wealth gaps.This brief explores the links between racial disparities in debt and those in wealth. It is informed by traditional research and by Aspen FSP's years of engagement with consumers and families about their financial challenges. It reflects findings from a literature review, interviews with experts from the academic and private sectors, analysis of federal survey data, and focus groups and consumer surveys. We believe that fully understanding the impact of debt on people's lives requires a multidisciplinary approach that includes systematically seeking input from and listening to people who struggle financially.  The growth in racial wealth inequality makes it imperative that policymakers, business leaders, and nonprofit and philanthropic institutions invest in strategies that increase wealth accumulation among those with the least and reduce racial disparities across every dimension of personal net worth. This brief provides a resource for leaders across sectors to understand more deeply the interactions between racial disparities in debt and racial gaps in wealth and the ways in which redressing the racial wealth gap requires addressing racial debt disparities.

Commission on Information Disorder Final Report

November 15, 2021

America is in a crisis of trust and truth. Bad information has become as prevalent, persuasive, and persistent as good information, creating a chain reaction of harm. It makes any health crisis more deadly. It slows down response time on climate change. It undermines democracy.The Aspen Institute's Commission on Information Disorder was created to address these conditions. Co-chaired by award-winning journalist Katie Couric, cybersecurity expert Chris Krebs, and civil rights leader Rashad Robinson, the Commission is composed of a diverse group from across the political spectrum, representing academia, government, philanthropy, and civil society. Over the course of six months, commissioners held internal discussions and heard from experts, community leaders, academics, researchers, tech industry representatives, and lawmakers to understand and explore the multidimensional attributes of information disorder.The Commission's Final Report is the culmination of that in-depth investigation. Offering a viable framework for action, it makes 15 recommendations for how government, private industry, and civil society can help to increase transparency and understanding, build trust, and reduce harms.

The ACT Report: Action to Catalyze Tech, A Paradigm Shift for DEI

October 28, 2021

Despite widespread awareness of the lack of DEI in tech and public commitments from tech companies to do better, great uncertainty exists among leaders about how to make real progress.While there are deep pockets of DEI excellence within tech companies themselves, there has never been an attempt to connect this knowledge in a one-stop shop for people and leaders working across tech, nor has there been an effort to catalyze DEI outcomes through collaborative industry-wide action. DEI can't be solved by one company or leader; it requires long-term collective effort.The ACT Report calls for a new paradigm in DEI that is holistic, collective, and long-term. Tech's current approach is often dispersed, individual, and short-term. Despite important progress in DEI, tech companies are too often reduced to poaching each other's talent from underrepresented groups. The paradigm shift described in the ACT Report fundamentally requires a shift in thought and behavior. It is based on values, and provides a blueprint to indivisibly link DEI strategy and business strategy. Companies must bring a business approach to inclusion, and an inclusive approach to business. In other words, DEI and business strategies can no longer be separate. The ACT Report explains what this means in practice.Making the tech industry more inclusive requires a systemic response to a systemic problem. The foundational system that impacts employment opportunity is education. The tech industry, like other industries, must deliver early intervention measures at scale to drive equity from cradle to career. That means tackling educational inequity generally, and increasing access to computer science education specifically. 

With Federal Moratorium Expiring, 15 Million People at Risk of Eviction

July 27, 2021

Nationwide, renters are recovering from an unprecedented economic crisis. With vaccines widely accessible, employment rising, and federal and state benefits available to millions of people, many of the over 100 million people living in rental housing are making a gradual recovery. Despite this progress, a meaningful percentage of renters are on the precipice of eviction, displacement, and homelessness. More than 15 million people live in households that are currently behind on their rental payments (7.4 million adults, 6.5 million households), which places them at legal risk of eviction. According to one estimate, these households collectively owe more than $20 billion to their landlords. On a per tenant basis, average debt owed to landlords exceeds $3,000, with significant variation based on time away from work, family needs, and other factors.When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium ends on July 31st, these renters may face eviction, civil lawsuits for unpaid rent, and aggressive debt collection—crises that will continue to cause harm years into the future. Nearly 50% of those who are behind on rent anticipate that they will be evicted in the next two months. The threat of eviction is particularly acute for renters of color. Currently, 22% of Black renters and 17% of Latinx renters are in debt to their landlords, compared to 15% overall and 11% of White renters. Rental debt is also challenging for renters with children, with 19% unable to make payments.This report highlights the current number of people at risk of eviction as the federal moratorium expires, how we got here, and policies states can implement to help prevent a wave of evictions from cascading into long-term health and financial crises for millions of households.

Promoting Equity and Inclusion and Connection to Good Fit Jobs for Young Adults: Typology of Workforce Development Practices to Influence Employer Practice Change

June 30, 2021

Even while general unemployment begins to improve, millions of America's young people, especially young people of color, are out of school and work. Not connecting to work can have lasting effects, including long-term unemployment or long-term employment in low-quality jobs. Strategies to connect young adults to jobs that will set them up for success both now and moving forward are more important than ever. And employers play a critical role.As a national partner to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Generation Work initiative, the Economic Opportunities Program has been conducting research with community-based practitioners working directly with employers to build more equitable and inclusive employment practices. Workforce partners in Generation Work communities have tried and tested a range of strategies, and we highlight these in a new typology of promising practices.Promoting Equity and Inclusion and Connection to Good Fit Jobs for Young Adults describes three categories of practice for employer engagement:Leveraging political and financial incentives to influence employer practice changeCultivating connections between employers and young adults to influence employer practicesWorking with employers to change practices from the insideWe hope this new publication will be helpful for workforce practitioners looking to engage with employers around supporting equity and inclusion in the workplace and to expand good-fit jobs in their communities.

2018 State of Native Youth Report : Generation Indigenous

November 1, 2018

This year, the focus of the annual State of Native Youth report is on the people, initiatives, and organizations that make up the Gen-I Network. 

Pursuing Social and Emotional Development Through a Racial Equity Lens: A Call to Action

May 9, 2018

Both equity and social, emotional, and academic development are currently receiving much-needed attention, but neither can fully succeed without recognizing strengths and addressing gaps in these complementary priorities. Rather than being pursued as two separate bodies of work, the field needs to identify ways in which equity and social, emotional, and academic development can be mutually reinforcing. To accomplish this requires examining issues of race directly; this can be difficult and uncomfortable, but we cannot avoid race and let the challenges go unacknowledged and, therefore, inadequately addressed.

Our Identities as Civic Power: The State of Native Youth 2017

November 1, 2017

In this report, we share what we've learned throughout the country from Native youth themselves about the key issues that matter to them, what's being done to tackle their challenges and barriers to success, and some of the innovative ways they're partnering with their communities to build resilience and leadership.  

State of Play Western New York

June 1, 2017

This report offers an independent assessment of the state of play for kids and sports in the eight-county region comprising Western New York—Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming counties. It is anchored in the notion that all stakeholders will benefit if all children in the region, regardless of zip code or ability, are provided access to a quality sport experience.This report was produced by the Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program with support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, in partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

State of Play Southeast Michigan

June 1, 2017

This report offers an independent assessment of the state of play for kids and sports in the seven-county region comprising Southeast Michigan—Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Livingston, Monroe, and St. Clair counties. It is anchored in the notion that all stakeholders will benefit if all children in the region, regardless of zip code or ability, are provided access to a quality sport experience.The report was produced by the Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program with support from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, in partnership with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.