What is equity-centered research?

There are many approaches funders may consider to learn more about ways in which philanthropy can make a difference in addressing the issues they care most about. Research tools and methods include both quantitative and qualitative data, and many funders will want to consider a combination of approaches to obtain meaningful input to inform their strategies.​ Some key approaches include:​

  • Stakeholder interviews, focus groups, and listening tours​
  • Grantee and nonprofit surveys​
  • Advisory groups that may include community members, practitioners, and thought leaders
  • Community indicators, trends, or other data​
  • Best practice benchmarking​

Putting it into practice.

During our conference session, we shared an example of how one foundation is intentionally incorporating an equity lens into its evaluation, research, and learning. State Street Foundation is a multinational corporate foundation that focuses largely on two strategic focus areas – education and workforce development. State Street Foundation engaged TPI to conduct two racial equity and social justice studies: (1) an assessment of the extent to which its Boston-area grantee partners aim to advance racial equity, and (2) an environmental scan to identify nonprofit organizations that are explicitly working to advance racial equity and social justice. For the environmental scan, TPI used an equity-informed approach to develop survey questions and to analyze responses from nonprofit organizations. We obtained input from several funders and thought leaders, and an internal working group at the Foundation, and then invited all nonprofit organizations in Boston and Quincy, Massachusetts to respond to an online survey addressing questions about leadership and staffing, racial demographics of those served by the organization, capacity needs, and more.

Based on TPI’s research and analysis, State Street Foundation went through a process of further exploration that resulted in the addition of several new grantees to their portfolio – some organizations that are ready to scale their work and some smaller community-based organizations with long-term potential to advance racial equity and social justice.

Read the full article about using equity-centered research by Elaines Pena at The Philanthropic Initiative.