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In conversation: using data and education to advance racial equity at MEASURE

Group of women from MEASURE sitting around a table working

On March 13, 2022, Meme Styles, president and founder of MEASURE, joined Candid CEO Ann Mei on the stage at SXSW for their talk: Using Data to Advance Racial Equity (available to watch now on YouTube). Candid’s team reached out to Meme recently to learn more about their work on racial equity at MEASURE that they are doing in Austin, TX.

Can you please tell us about MEASURE and its mission?

Meme: MEASURE works to use data and education to mobilize communities to fight structural racism and eliminate social disparities. Through our CARE Model process and other tools, we ensure communities and institutions embrace lived-experience data of marginalized populations in order to deconstruct underlying narratives and work together to find equitable solutions.

What is the MEASURE CARE Model and what problem are you trying to solve with this program?

Meme: To disrupt traditional research methodologies, MEASURE has developed the CARE model to help BIPOC-led organizations identify their theory of change and measure their impact. The CARE (Community, Advocacy, Resilience, Evidence) model is a method for working in active partnership with communities to develop solutions to complex social problems. It provides a means for increasing meaningful engagement and minimizing potential trauma to the community. The CARE model empowers participants by providing direction to help communities lead the work.

Thank you for your commitment to transparency and earning a Candid 2022 Platinum Seal. How did you first hear about Candid nonprofit profiles and what value do you see in earning the highest level seal?

Meme: A great friend and mentor of mine—who is also a philanthropist—challenged me to hone in on my theory of change and mentioned how GuideStar is a great place to share our work with funders. His championship of the platform encouraged me to claim our nonprofit profile right away.

How do Candid nonprofit profiles fit into your curriculum?

Meme: During the last step of the CARE Model, we show community leaders and founders how to claim their nonprofit profile. Our goal is to develop platinum level Black- and Brown-led organizations. Black-led organizations receive only 1% of philanthropic funding. To disrupt this system of philanthropic racism, we are intentionally leveraging the GuideStar tool and receiving funding as a result.

Can you please share a story of an organization that has participated in the CARE program and how that has helped to advance their work?

Meme: In 2019, we used the CARE Model to launch the award-winning Innocence Initiative. Our goals with this initiative were to defeat the adultification bias of Black girls in the community, and we also wanted to provide clinical partners, Black mentors, and resources to educate and empower Black girls. The program was initially comprised of five organizations (Lone Star Justice Alliance, Girl Scouts of Central Texas, Community Advocacy and Healing Project, Hearts2Heal, and MEASURE), all tethered by one metric of serving youth. The Innocence Initiative tools we used led to amazing results! These included changes to school policy to address the school- to-prison pipeline; the introduction of Texas House Bill 3485, where we advocated for more transparent disciplinary data in schools; a mentorship program for 30 black girls in Travis County; the training of over 1000 lawyers on how to protect powerful Black girls; and over $200,000 collectively invested in the initiative.

How can potential participants learn more about the CARE Model program?

Meme: There are multiple ways to get involved with the CARE Model program. Organizations that are interested in data support via the CARE Model can learn more and submit applications here. For people who are interested in joining the MEASURE Research Team, we have various opportunities available to work directly with amazing community leaders committed to creating impact and equitable change. Applicants can contact our Research Assistant Passion Scott at [email protected] for more information.


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