For a grantmaker running a national initiative in juvenile justice reform, a racial equity lens helped identify a rigorous way to trace the impact of a program intended to improve “a broken system that relies much too much on incarceration and does not produce good results, either for kids or for public safety.” Given the foundation’s underlying objective, he explained, “it would be very easy to reduce the number of kids in detention just by treating the white kids more leniently. That was something we were really concerned about when we started this initiative — that judges would say, ‘Okay, we want to have fewer kids detained? We’ll have fewer white kids detained.’” He and his colleagues realized that “if there’s going to be genuine change, there has to be measurable change on indicators of racial equity. There has to be less disproportionality and fewer disparities.” Collecting and discussing data on juvenile incarceration by race and ethnicity has become the norm within the initiative, but that didn’t happen automatically.
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This takeaway was derived from Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens.