It’s Time for an Updated Civil Rights Regime Over Big Tech


Author: Nicol Turner Lee (Brookings Institution)

Structural racism and discrimination have seeped into the aspirations of the digital revolution, perpetuating systemic inequalities against historically marginalized communities and excluding them from the benefits of the online economy. Mass video and data surveillance, algorithmic oppression and biases, and technology companies’ unfettered access to online consumer data perpetuate digital inequities while depriving people of access to opportunity. These realities are worsened by the absence of clear policy guardrails on technology and the lack of current and future interpretability of existing civil and human rights laws. This paper calls for policymakers, industry, and civil society leaders to establish a comprehensive civil rights framework in the digital economy that prevents the regression of progress that historically disadvantaged and other vulnerable populations have made in civil rights.

September 2022

Funding Narrative Change, An Assessment and Framework


In September 2022, the Convergence Partnership released the first-ever report to focus exclusively on the funding of narrative change, Funding Narrative Change, An Assessment and Framework. The new report was written by two leading experts in the field, Rinku Sen, executive director of Narrative Initiative, and Mik Moore, principal and founder of Moore + Associates. Narrative change has become a popular focus with growing urgency to change public narratives around issues like racial justice, health equity, abortion rights, and rights for trans people. But because this area of work is relatively new for funders, the work is often siloed, leading to a lack of meaningful results. The report’s authors propose a framework for funders and practitioners to shift narratives via mass culture, mass media, and mass movements.

“We will not make significant change without building all three kinds of narrative power, hopefully operating in concert with each other for maximum impact. Our audiences should not be able to go anywhere without encountering our ideas and stories. That kind of saturation, combined with clear paths to action, will change the environment and make more ambitious policy achievable and enduring.”

It’s a must read for funders and practitioners who want to ensure greater efficacy in their narrative change efforts. 

August 2022

Advancing Workforce Equity in Nashville: A Blueprint for Action


Nashville’s strong and sustained growth has helped make it Tennessee’s largest city and the state’s biggest economic powerhouse, but racial inequities in the workforce threaten the region’s future prosperity. This report, produced in partnership with the Urban League of Middle Tennessee and Lightcast, with support from JPMorgan Chase, offers a comprehensive look at the racial inequities in workforce outcomes that have long persisted in the Nashville metropolitan region. It also underscores how the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting these dynamics and how automation is projected to affect industries and workers in the area. Our in-depth analysis of disaggregated equity indicators and labor market dynamics found that only about 41 percent of the region’s 915,000 workers hold good jobs, that white workers with only a high school diploma earn higher median wages ($17/hour) than Black workers with an associate’s degree ($16/hour), and that eliminating racial inequities in employment and wages could boost the Nashville economy by $9.5 billion a year. The report concludes with actionable solutions to advance workforce equity across the region, informed by these findings and shaped by local leaders. Download the report.

Media: Here's a Blueprint for How Nashville Can Achieve Workforce Equity (The Tennessean)

California’s Policymakers Must Take Immediate Action to Keep People in Their Homes

Dear Atlas users,

In just seven days, California’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program will stop accepting new applications, and the Covid protections that had previously barred landlords from filing eviction notices on the basis of unpaid rent will end. As evidenced by our new analysis, the combined loss of resources and protections will expose families and communities to the cascading harms of eviction and homelessness. Through our data tools, research, and partnerships with grassroots organizations, the Atlas team is proud to support efforts to ensure an equitable recovery. Here are more updates:

New Analysis of California’s Rent Relief Program Underscores the Urgent Need for Policy Action

Our new analysis of California’s statewide rent relief program — released in partnership with Housing NOW! — reveals that more than 366,000 of the 534,666 applicants are still waiting for assistance. At the current rate of approvals, it would take until Thanksgiving for them all to receive a decision on their applications. These findings underscore that California needs permanent policy solutions, funding, and infrastructure to support the renters hardest hit by the pandemic. In addition to the report, we released a dashboard with real-time, in-depth data for counties, cities, and zip codes.

Meet the Inaugural Cohort of National Equity Atlas Fellows

We are proud to announce the inaugural cohort of the National Equity Atlas Fellowship. This new program provides intensive, hands-on data training and support to grassroots leaders of color working to advance racial and economic equity. The 12 visionary leaders we’ve selected come from a broad range of backgrounds and represent community-based organizations from across the country. Learn more about the fellows and their work at nationalequityatlas.org/fellowship.

Equity Data for Six Southern States

In partnership with E Pluribus Unum, we produced a series of data snapshots to support a cohort of Southern state legislators working to advance racial and economic equity. In addition to key Atlas indicators on demographics, economic vitality, readiness, connectedness, and the economic benefits of equity, the snapshots also include customized indicators related to priority equity issues in each of the states. You can download data decks for AlabamaGeorgiaLouisianaMississippiNorth Carolina, and Tennessee.

Did You Hear? We’re Expanding Our Team!

We are looking for a dynamic Senior Associate to join our team. The person who fills this position will lead research engagements with community partners for the Bay Area Equity Atlas, including the development of reports, analyses, and local equity data tools. They will contribute research and data support to the National Equity Atlas and support the further development of the Atlas tool. The ideal candidate is passionate about producing data and research that is relevant and actionable for those working on the front lines to advance racial and economic equity. This position will remain open until it’s filled. Please help us spread the word!

In the News

The Atlas received broad media coverage this month, anchored by our latest analysis, which was covered by KGETKABCKPBSMercury NewsKQED, and Los Angeles Times. For more, explore the archive of our news coverage.

- The National Equity Atlas team at PolicyLink and the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI)

May 2022

Partnering with Federal Agencies to Advance Racial Equity


January 2022 marked the one-year anniversary of Executive Order 13985, the Biden-Harris Administration’s landmark order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which has resulted in the development of racial equity action plans across 90 federal agencies. The issuance of the executive order last year signaled a promising shift in the federal government’s understanding of its power to realize the aspirations of racial equity and to transform governing systems and structures to become antiracist and equitable. With the order, the administration also affirmed that the federal government has a role, and indeed an imperative, in designing a nation that works for all.

To meet this moment and assist federal agencies in realizing their racial equity aspirations, PolicyLink and Race Forward co-led a Racial Equity Governing Pilot Project with federal agencies in the fall and winter of 2021 and 2022. Building from For Love of Country: A Path for the Federal Government to Advance Racial Equity, which outlined clear actions agencies could consider to further embed racial equity into their work, this report discusses critical elements of these partnership pilots and lessons to inform and support the longer-term aspirations of the federal government to become actively anti-racist. More specifically, this report describes the work that commenced in partnership with agency offices, considers observations and lessons learned along the way, and discusses efforts that must continue at the federal level to fully realize the intentions of the executive order and move this country toward a more racially just future.

April 2022

Call to Action: Picturing a Transformative Future for Housing and Health


Recognizing the inextricable connection between housing and health, made more evident by the COVID-19 pandemic, 19 housing justice leaders were announced as the 2021 cohort of Ambassadors for Health Equity, a venture led by PolicyLink and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. These leaders, who are focused on building political power and housing solutions in Black, Brown and Indigenous communities worked together as a cohort to leverage and learn from each other’s expertise, align around a vision for housing and health equity, and propel their work collectively toward more power in the housing justice movement.

Throughout 2021, these leaders came together (virtually) to share ideas and experiences, forge new alliances, and collaborate around promoting health equity in their work. This narrative report and vision presentation is an outcome of their journey in envisioning a transformative system of housing and justice and reinforces the values and infrastructure needed to achieve this vision of healthy communities.

April 2022

Corporate Performance Standards on Racial and Economic Equity: Developmental Approach and Methodology