Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy

RAND Launches New Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy

The new center supports a portfolio of innovative, high-impact racial equity research and analysis, creates a clearinghouse to help coordinate related efforts, and collaborates with organizations dedicated to advancing racial equity.

September 9, 2020

Against the backdrop of a pandemic inflicting disproportionate physical and economic pain on communities of color, and an overdue reckoning with America’s long history of systemic inequity and structural racism, RAND is launching the RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy.

The center, funded by an initial $1 million from donor contributions and RAND’s own resources, will support a growing portfolio of innovative, high-impact racial equity research and analysis at RAND, create a clearinghouse to help coordinate related efforts, and collaborate with organizations dedicated to advancing racial equity. Fundraising for the center is a priority in RAND’s recently launched Tomorrow Demands Today $400 million campaign.

“The evidence is clear regarding persistent racial inequities in the settings that define our daily lives—the neighborhood, the hospital, the classroom, and the U.S. criminal justice system,” said Michael D. Rich, president and CEO of nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND. “RAND has an obligation to address these problems, but it will not be enough to conduct more research. We will need to convert that research into action.”

RAND is undertaking a search for a director to lead the new center. The director will have a track record in racial equity systems and policy research and action, including engaging diverse stakeholder groups and conducting outreach in areas such as community-building and dissemination of research and analysis findings.

“We must examine where inequities intersect across systems and groups, represent voices that are too often left out of leadership on these topics, and integrate the structural contexts in which policies have been developed and applied sometimes with unintended consequences,” said Anita Chandra, vice president of RAND’s Social and Economic Well-Being research division.

RAND has undertaken research on the challenges presented by racial inequity across sectors, including how principals and teachers can better support students of color; how California can improve mental health outcomes for Latino and Black residents; how the military and public safety agencies can diversify their workforce; and how to estimate the economic impact of the pandemic on communities of color. The center will usher in a new phase of RAND racial equity research and action that goes deeper into the policies that underlie systemic racism and what it will take to build future systems and policies that advance racial equity.

RAND’s commitment to objectivity and nonpartisanship should allow the organization to bring a wider range of stakeholder perspectives and policy solutions to address racial inequity. “We bring a perspective and history with decisionmakers that can support conversations about the policy options to dismantle systemic racism,” Chandra said.

RAND is adept at turning difficult concepts from fields such as sociology and economics that have informed the understanding of racial equity into policy action across public and private sectors—in other words, how to make sure racial equity is better integrated into government and civil society action.

“But we also recognize that the organization has not yet met its potential in racial equity policy research and the impact we can have,” Rich said. “The center is an important step to focus our efforts on this topic and take bigger steps to test, implement, and sustain policy solutions.”

The center’s initial blueprint was developed with input from RAND staff across the organization. The center is part of a larger RAND commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the organization’s internal operations and external engagement.