Power Your Advocacy with New Equity Data

Clean air and high-quality schools are fundamental elements of “communities of opportunity” that allow residents to thrive. Last week, the National Equity Atlas, produced jointly by PolicyLink and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE), added three new opportunity indicators to equip local leaders with relevant data to build equitable cities and regions:

 

The National Equity Atlas team was proud to participate in the “The Opportunity Project,” an Open Opportunity Data event held yesterday at the White House where the new Atlas indicators were showcased. The White House effort focuses on facilitating the development of a suite of digital tools that puts neighborhood-level information on access to opportunity at the fingertips of families, community organizers, non-profits, local leaders, and the media.
 
Writing in a letter to the editor published in the New York Times, on March 7, PolicyLink President and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell noted the importance of disaggregating data by race and ethnicity is critical to understanding trends and developing solutions: “Recognizing this ‘people’ dimension of poor neighborhoods — and the complex interplay of race and place — is essential for catalyzing equitable and sustainable economic prosperity for all.”
 
School Poverty Data Highlighted in The Atlantic
The Atlantic is already demonstrating the analytical power of this new data. Abigail Langston and Sarah Treuhaft from PolicyLink are quoted in “The Concentration of Poverty in American Schools,” by Janie Boschma and Ronald Brownstein, who note that in about half of the nation’s largest 100 cities, most Black and Latino students go to schools where at least 75 percent of all students qualify as poor or low-income:
 
“Kids who spend more than half of their childhood in poverty have a high-school graduation rate of 68 percent,” said Abigail Langston, a senior associate at PolicyLink, and a public fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies. “You see how these things compound over time. There is a link between housing policy, economic and racial segregation, you see what those do to schools and to people who grow up in those neighborhoods.”
 
In the article, promising school integration models from Dallas and New York City are lifted up as tools to address these gaps. The Atlantic also uses the National Equity Atlas’s school poverty indicator in the stories “Separate and Still Unequal” and “Where Children Rarely Escape Poverty.”
 
Join upcoming Equitable Development and Environmental Justice Webinar
On Friday, March 11 the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice will conduct the free webinar “New Data Tools for Supporting Analysis of Equitable Development and Environmental Justice.” Sarah Treuhaft, who is PolicyLink director of equitable growth initiatives will present the new air pollution indicators in the National Equity Atlas. The webinar will also feature a demo of the new environmental justice screening and mapping tool. Register here

Summit Snapshot: The Moment

A reflection on the PolicyLink Equity Summit, which took place in Los Angeles, Oct. 2015.

As I sit here among 3,000 people, I cannot help but think this is the moment. I look out and see the faces, young and old, new and familiar. I cannot help but think this is the moment.

The affirmative advancement of fair housing, the empowerment of low-wage workers, fighting urban displacement, ending mass incarceration, Black Lives Matter, addressing immigration, improving the lives of boys and men of color, addressing income inequality. These issues are front and center, with thoughtful leaders ready to take action.

I think this must be the moment. But what moment is it?

Is it the moment that we fear? The moment that we realize the great American dream of opportunity for all is really just the opportunity for a few? That the promise of this young nation is just another in a long line of promises unkept? Is it that moment?

Is it the moment that we throw up our hands and say that our differences are just far too wide, too deep and too complex, and go to our respective corners and try to make it work separately and segregated by race, class, or party affiliation? Is it that moment?

Or is it the moment we’ve been waiting for? The moment when we finally realize that our fates are linked, the moment when we find the highest common denominator. The moment when we find our best selves and live up to the promise of liberty and justice for all.

I hope it’s that moment. No, let’s make it that moment.

See new video: What does it mean to be Bay Area Bold?

AB 2060 Workforce Bill Signed Into Law

California has one of the largest and most expensive prison systems in the nation and is currently under a federal court order to reduce its prison population. System and community leaders across the state have recognized the urgent need to lower the numbers of current prisoners and the rate of recidivism, in order to decrease state prison costs and increase public safety. 

Earlier this week, Governor Jerry Brown helped California take a major step toward achieving these goals by signing AB 2060 (Supervised Population Workforce Training Grant Program) into law. Authored by Assemblymember Victor Manuel Pérez and co-sponsored by PolicyLink, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, and the California Workforce Association, AB 2060 will establish a new competitive workforce training grant program for women and men re-entering our communities and families after being released from prison, to ensure that they have access to training and education, job readiness skills, and job placement assistance. The bill was also identified as a priority by the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color.

Law enforcement officials and judges agree that opportunity-enhancing strategies are less expensive than incarceration and more effective at reducing recidivism and improving community safety and stability. Investing in workforce development opportunities for reentry populations is a critical step toward expanding access to well-paying jobs and careers, which in turn will improve offender outcomes and reduce recidivism rates, resulting in economic savings and improved public safety.

The program established by AB 2060 is designed to serve the distinct education and training needs of individuals who require basic education and training in order to obtain entry level jobs with opportunities for career advancement, and also individuals with some postsecondary education who can benefit from services that result in certifications and placement on a middle-skill career ladder.

Administered by the California Workforce Investment Board, the new grant program will build on the most promising workforce development strategies and incentivize counties to foster collaboration and coordination with Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs), the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, community-based organizations that serve re-entry populations, labor, and industry. Regional coordination also advances realignment goals, which shift some of the responsibility for housing prisoners from the state to the local level.

An allocation of $1 million from the Governor’s Recidivism Reduction Fund was secured to launch this effort through the budget process earlier this year. AB 2060 will leverage the State’s investment by rewarding counties that commit matching funds. This translates into additional dollars for the program and will help to sustain the strategy over time, ensuring that more women and men can be served.

We must work at the regional and state levels to ensure that every Californian has a fair chance to contribute and thrive. By investing in workforce training and job placement for the women and men re-entering our families and communities, we can improve neighborhood safety and stability and secure a more prosperous future. 

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