Community Science is working with the Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative (hereafter referred to as the “Collaborative”) to evaluate its joint initiative “Forging Racial Equity through Policy Advancement, Data-Informed Civic Engagement, and Message Development Initiative.” The Collaborative is composed of nine national racial justice organizations: Advancement Project, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Demos, Faith in Action, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Congress of American Indians, National Urban League, Race Forward, and UnidosUS (hereafter referred to as the “Anchors”). In 2016, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation asked the Collaborative to design, develop, and implement an initiative it could collectively work on to develop and strengthen cross-racial collaboration to advance racial equity locally and nationally. The Anchors have leveraged their expertise, influence, and networks to (1) fund and conduct research on the beliefs, challenges, and behaviors of people of color to inform the development, testing, and dissemination of multiracial messaging to encourage people of color to register and vote in the 2018 midterm elections and participate in the 2020 Census; and (2) to build and strengthen local and national cross-racial partnerships and networks to support these and future efforts to advance racial equity.

For the first phase of the joint initiative evaluation, Community Science conducted a systematic document review and in-depth interviews to identify and describe key activities, Anchors’ roles and responsibilities, implementation challenges and facilitators, and lessons learned. This qualitative data was triangulated with quantitative data from two sources: (1) Anchors’ reports of their outreach data, including social media analytics, and voter registration data; and (2) national, state, and local voter participation data for the last three midterm elections.

The interim evaluation report highlighted several key Collaborative accomplishments, including the  Collaborative’s design and conduct of mapping research to identify existing cross-racial messages aimed at motivating multiracial audiences to register and vote. After learning very few messages existed, the Collaborative decided to develop their own tailored messages as well as two digital tool kits to support message dissemination. Similarly, the Collaborative conducted polling research to improve understanding of factors motivating the voting behaviors of people of color, particularly those aged 18- to 24 years old. Unlike most polling efforts, the Collaborative deliberately oversampled Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians in order to have more representative results.

By working together on the joint initiative, the Collaborative was also able to build and strengthen trust among Anchors and deepen their understanding of how similar issues affects communities differently and how to tailor their national and local outreach efforts accordingly. While there has been progress in these areas, the interim evaluation report discussed the importance of continued and purposeful efforts to support cross-racial learning and racial healing among Anchors to help Anchors maximize their effectiveness and become the model of collaboration they want to build and support at local levels. As a result, the Collaborative plans to create opportunities at future in-person meetings for both scholarly presentations and open and honest conversations about the challenges and struggles that sometimes arise while doing this hard and much needed work.

For the second phase of the evaluation, Community Science will use similar methods to assess the effectiveness of the Collborative’s efforts to encourage participation in the 2020 Census while also more deeply examining the Collaborative’s unique role and contributions as a leader, funder, convener, and implementer promoting the use of cross-racial learning and partnerships to advance equity.