Democratizing evidence requires investment. Investments are needed to support co-developed research, the use of research for public benefit, research-practice partnerships and networks, as well as data access and transparency.
Articles, tools and resources to help funders think about investments that strengthen democratizing evidence efforts are summarized here.
This website catalogues the growing number of local practitioner networks that seek to get smarter by sharing information, data, successes, and failures. Networks offer promise for addressing the challenges that are bigger than any one place can solve alone. They enable practitioners to share tools and resources for leveraging evidence to solve complex problems.
While school data is more accessible than ever, this article asks what it means for data to be transparent. Many parents seek information on schools but face educational, technological, and language barriers to accessing and understanding data, thereby limiting their ability to make informed decisions. To address this challenge, grassroot parent networks provide models and tools for making use of public data.
Networks can help unite people and institutions to co-create and act on evidence. Such collaborations are particularly useful when: a) problems are bigger than one entity can solve alone; b) the work of the network can be aligned with local innovations already happening; and c) partners want to reduce the risk of innovation and inspire local actors to do more. This essays poses ten questions to help design a network.
This toolkit supports the development of data literacy skills for local government personnel and other partners so that they can use data confidently. This toolkit provides agendas, slides, and activities to data literacy trainers and can be shared with communities seeking to increase the number of stakeholders demonstrating competency and confidence in using data.
This article explores ways that funders can support local actors in thinking and acting differently and in developing more effective and comprehensive projects and strategies. The article lays out a three- phase approach of exploration, initiation of action, and co-learning.
This project brings together a diverse range of stakeholders to use open data to encourage joint problem solving, innovation, enhanced understanding, and accountability between communities and law enforcement agencies. More than 130 data sets have been curated to date.
This national network engages committed communities to end veteran and chronic homelessness by supporting localities in developing real time data on homelessness and in aligning their findings with local housing resources and strategic planning in order to accelerate progress.
The foundation articulates an open access policy about the information generated during the course of their investment activities in the form of research studies, data sets, evaluation results, investment results, and strategy-related analytics.
It is hard to bridge scientific inquiry if the voices of those we seek to benefit are not included in the conversation.
-Margarita Alegría, Disparities Research Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital
Research Networks as Investments in Democratizing Evidence
New York City's introduction of universal full-day prekindergarten (pre-K) presented the opportunity for researchers and policymakers to co-develop a research agenda to support successful implementation. The Foundation for Child Development launched the New York City Early Childhood Research Network to bring together city agency officials and researchers to focus on the role of early care and education professionals in implementation of the City’s Pre-K for All initiative. Eight research studies provided multiple interdisciplinary perspectives of program scale up as issues unfolded. The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute (PDI) at the City University of New York provided leadership and support to the Research Network, helping researchers and policymakers shape and nurture their collaboration. As interim and final study results became available, the researchers and city agency officials had opportunities to continue their dialogue and joint deliberation about the implications of the research on policy and practice in the City’s early childhood education system.
Initial investment from the Foundation garnered additional support from several funders who also valued the Research Network. As a result, over the last five years, the Research Network grew in membership and research scope, yielding key insights about the implementation of early education services for children from birth through kindergarten entry. Currently, 11 studies have been launched by researchers from public and private institutions across the metropolitan area to respond to local policymakers’ high priority questions. The Research Network partners continue to discuss implications of the research findings and co-develop actionable ideas for systems change to continuously improve the quality of the City’s early childhood education programs.
The collaborative process resulted in greater cooperation across sectors to coordinate research agendas and to develop greater capacity to utilize research for understanding program implementation. The NYC Early Childhood Research Network is a model for bringing researchers and policymakers together to provide useful and actionable information that can shape continuous quality improvement efforts as localities and states scale up public preschool systems.