Earlier this year, the Urban Institute brought together roughly 100 participants from communities across the country for the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) convening. It was well organized, as always, and the nonprofit sector was diversely and beautifully represented in Atlanta, Georgia.
Oakland has always been a geographical dichotomy of diversity and disparity, which is central to our work at Urban Strategies Council (the Council) where we highlight racial inequity through data. With this in mind, there were two highlights from this year’s NNIP convening that resonated with our work. First, a lively session led by Julie Nelson of Race Forward/Center for Social Inclusion, that uncovered unintentional racial bias and discrimination in how research findings are communicated. Next, Microsoft’s Civic Technology Engagement initiative was introduced. This Detroit focused initiative demonstrates how technology can be used as an intervention and contribute to improved social justice.
This is a promising and innovative partnership given how the technology sector as a whole has historically not been included in economic equity conversations.
Prior to the start of the NNIP event there was a one-day Civic Switchboard Workshop organized by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The workshop developed the capacity of academic and public libraries in local civic data ecosystems. It brought together 12 regional teams of two to examine the power of potential partnerships between libraries and civic data intermediaries. The Council partnered, as a data intermediary, with Laney Community College in Oakland, CA. This burgeoning partnership will further bring the academic community (faculty, librarians, and students) to the data-driven social science research table. In the Civic Switchboard
Workshop, participants learned to develop and shared ecosystem mapping in their local communities.
Way to go Oakland!
In-person participation at NNIP meetings is a whole different level of interaction, which typical virtual networking does not afford. Participants are stimulated and feel alive as the hosting venue becomes an interactive space of ideas to be implemented back home.