Resources for Promoting Equity, Inclusion, and Cultural Responsiveness in Research and Technical Assistance

MDRC employees engaged in discussion

Teacher assisting young students

MDRC’s work is increasingly incorporating stronger equity-based and culturally responsive approaches in our research and technical assistance. Launched in 2018, MDRC’s Equity Collaborative was created to integrate perspectives of diversity, equity, and inclusion more fully in our work with program operators, practitioners, and research participants. Led by the Equity Collaborative, staff from across MDRC’s policy areas and centers contribute to MDRC’s goal of advancing equity by:

  • developing guidance to systematically infuse equity-informed and culturally responsive practices throughout all stages of MDRC’s research projects,
  • helping bring more empathy and humility into how we approach our work, recognizing that we will be learning along the way,
  • helping amplify the voices of people inside and outside MDRC with lived expertise in the social policy issues that MDRC addresses, and
  • creating tools and resources that can be useful to MDRC staff and the broader social policy research and technical assistance fields in employing stronger equity-based and culturally responsive practices.

MDRC considers people with direct lived experience as experts in the conditions and systems that MDRC researchers study and aim to improve. “Lived experts” can include individuals participating in or eligible for social programs, direct service practitioners, and managers implementing these programs. In an educational context, students and their families, teachers, and school administrators are also examples of “lived experts.” We regard lived expertise as critically important, helping to contextually ground research and program improvement as well as to develop opportunities for mutually beneficial research and program development.

The Equity Collaborative works to infuse thoughtful and systematic application of culturally responsive, equity-based, and inclusive practices across MDRC’s research and technical assistance projects. In the spirit of sharing what we are learning, we are making the tools, resources, and guidance materials MDRC staff are developing publicly available. We hope that our efforts will be useful to our colleagues in the social and education policy research field, as well as to the key stakeholders who shape policy, programming, and practice. As we continue to collaborate and cultivate learning, we will update this page with additional materials and reflections.

07/2021 | Rekha Balu

This paper, submitted in response to a request for information from the federal Office of Management and Budget, offers practical advice about assessing and reducing inequities in public service programs from MDRC’s experience partnering with federal, state, and local agencies.

06/2021 | Oscar Cerna, Barbara Condliffe, Ashley Wilson

MDRC’s Equity Collaborative has developed a set of guiding questions to help researchers incorporate culturally responsive practices and an equity-based perspective in all stages of an evaluation or technical assistance project.

06/2021 | Rachel Rosen, Rashida Welbeck

MDRC’s Equity Collaborative has compiled examples of metrics, data displays, and analytic approaches to help fellow researchers more fully measure equity both as a condition and as an outcome in studies focused on education.