Exciting news from the School of Social Work this week, as the fruits of a partnership between RISE3 and the Obama-era White House were made public. Two reports from BCSSW faculty members Tiziana Dearing, Summer Hawkins, and David Takeuchi were released during an event on campus that featured speakers from the Obama administration team, as well as leading organizations across Boston.
The reports, Race and Income Equity in Childcare and Race, Poverty, and Equity in Neighborhood Transportation, are the products of a months-long data analysis conducted with the Obama Administration’s Office of Science and Technology Partnerships (OSTP) that was designed to investigate how race, income, and places affect access to opportunity. RISE3 was among 30 programs that worked together under the auspices of the Project and was the only academic partner to collaborate with Obama’s team.
Aden Van Knoppen, former senior advisor to the US Chief Technology Officer for OSTP, provided a keynote in Chestnut Hill underscoring the importance of BCSSW’s role in mining data towards advocating for the greater good. She also underscored the importance for social service providers to collaborate with academia, with tech, and with communities themselves moving forward, in order to build the most effective interventions possible.
“There is such a thing as data poverty and it’s widespread,” she explained. “Having access to the information you need to thrive at your fingertips is highly unequal, and access to quality data and the skills to create things with it that meet your needs, or the needs of others, is a form of privilege and of power.”
The Opportunity Project sought to begin to break down the barriers of data poverty, facilitating the use of large-scale data sets that RISE3 engaged in a systematic set of analyses, including the American Time Use Survey, the Consumer Expenditure Survey, and the American Housing Survey.
During the course of the childcare study, Dearing, Hawkins, and Takeuchi investigated the costs and life choices that come with the decision to place a child in daycare, specifically delving into how income and race/ethnicity have “common and unique associations with childcare.”
The second report addressed the realities of access to transportation that often go un-discussed. The authors found that “decisions about the type, time spent on, and money used for transportation affect flexibility and quality of life, factors involved in what is sometimes referred to as ‘self-determination.’”
Steve Poftak, the Executive Director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard University, and Wayne Ysaguirre, CEO of Nurtury, participated in the day’s events, leading a panel response to Summer Hawkins’ summary of the reports’ findings. A panel of young voices from UTEC also provided their lived experiences vis-à-vis transportation and childcare.
“Access to data is very much an issue of civil rights,” said Takeuchi. “It will be important for those of us engaged in finding solutions to the world’s social ills to recognize this reality, and to advocate for the more equitable, and inclusive, use of data as we partner with communities and like-minded organizations to do our work.”