Advancing More Equitable Human Services Policies and Programs
The January 2021 Presidential executive order on advancing racial equity called for a stronger focus on equity in how we generate and use evidence to inform policies and programs. The Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking memorandum, announced just days after the executive order, placed a renewed urgency on using the best available data and evidence to make programs more equitable. Together, these initiatives elevate the importance of embedding equity into government programs, ensuring community-led involvement in research and evaluation in new ways, and extending resources into those communities that are most in need.
Just as equity has long been at the heart of AIR’s work, so has continuous improvement. Our methods and approaches for data collection, evaluation, technical assistance, and knowledge dissemination are evolving to better meet the needs of individuals, families, and communities.
In collaboration with our partners, government leaders, and field experts, AIR has worked to strengthen the evidence base, provide evidence-backed equity resources, and support equal access to programs that can help people and communities thrive.
Reinforced by the 2021 Executive Order on advancing racial equity, the policy research community has demonstrated unwavering commitment to generating evidence that can be used to inform policy and improve programs. It also strengthened our collective desire to help build the capacity of local systems so that communities are better able to deliver services and supports to those who are most in need. We have a long way to go, but I am optimistic and hopeful for the future.
– Jessica Heppen, AIR President
Post-Pandemic Academic Recovery
- Through the COVID-19 and Equity in Education: Longitudinal Deep Dive and the COVID-19 and Equity in Education Research–Practice Partnership Network, our experts are developing an equity-focused research agenda to help advance pandemic recovery efforts.
- The PreK–12 Research on Education Strategies to Advance Recovery and Turnaround (RESTART) Network provides resources to generate new data and evidence to support the urgent post-pandemic academic needs of students, especially those from groups that were disproportionately affected by pandemic-related school closures.
- The Challenges of Implementing Academic COVID Recovery Interventions: Evidence from the Road to Recovery Project, a new paper from the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, sheds light on challenges that schools faced in implementing recovery programs at scale during the 2021–22 school year.
Social Justice Reform and Thriving Systems for Youth
Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Police Department
- A November 2022 blog post explores Three Ways the AIR Equity Initiative is Addressing Justice in Public Safety and Policing: data gathering and evaluation; strategic partnerships and consultancies with community and industry leaders; and examining the efficacy of community-level programming that integrates socio-historical experiences to rethink traditional policing strategies.
- Building Bridges to Equity: Data-Informed Approaches to Cultivate Peaceful Communities, a two-part webinar hosted by the AIR Equity Initiative, provides diverse perspectives on the role of data and dignity in the current state of public safety systems and envisions data-informed public safety approaches that more equitably respond to the needs of every community.
- AIR’s Justice Systems work spans the justice continuum—from prevention to intervention and reentry—and embeds community-based, restorative, developmentally appropriate, and culturally responsive approaches. We aim to address root causes of harm and trauma and promote equitable access to resources and opportunities that engender safety, dignity, and thriving.
Meaningful Job Training
- The PROMISE Center, a collaborative network of workforce policy experts, practitioners, and policymakers, focuses on creating solutions and using evidence to build an equitable and diverse 21st century workforce system.
- Based on work conducted with the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Career-Technical Education, our recent In the Field piece, The Challenges and Opportunities in Addressing Equity in Career and Technical Education, examines opportunities to address equity in career and technical education, including challenges facing states to strengthen outcomes for all students, particularly those who have historically been underserved.
- A recent blog post, How States Are Taking an Equity Lens to Expanding Apprenticeship Programs, explores specific solutions states have implemented to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within workforce programs.
In the coming years, we’re eager to continue advancing equitable outcomes for people and communities through work such as the American Rescue Plan National Evaluation, the Evaluation Services of the Health Equity Fund project in Washington, D.C., and the Bridges Collaborative, a coalition that explores desegregation and integration efforts in diverse contexts and aims to advance racial and socioeconomic integration and equity in schools.