Antiracist Technology in the US

Selected

Thrive! Equity Audits

Breaking cycles of poverty using software to identify systemic racism in spending and politics

Team Lead

Omolara Fatiregun

Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Thrive! Equity Audits

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One-line solution summary:

Our software identifies systemic racism in local government budgets to move money and power where they belong to break cycles of poverty.

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Pitch your solution.

Intergenerational cycles of poverty are the legacy of racism in America. 84% of kids born in poverty will live in poverty for the rest of their lives and we know that these are disproportionately Black and Brown children. This is not the American my parents left Nigeria for and it’s not the America that any of us want to live in. And don't have to. At Thrive! we built an app that identifies systemic racism in local government spending. Then we make recommendations for the government to re-route money to investments that have been proven to mitigate disparities. Studies from the UK and the US have shown that changes in government spending can improve outcomes for vulnerable populations. With the Thrive! Equity Audit app, we have the potential to break cycles of poverty for the 8.6 million children of color living in the US.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

Intergenerational cycles of poverty are the legacy of racism in America. Native Americans, Blacks, and Latinos are twice as likely to be poor compared to Whites. To make matters worse, poverty in minority communities leads to premature death according to JAMA and the CDC. Unfortunately, if you are born into poverty it is nearly impossible to get out; 84% of children born in poverty—who are disproportionately Black and Brown—will  live and die in poverty. But why? American public policies from Native “treaties” to Jim Crow to the GI Bill to redlining have shackled people of color to destitution while providing economic mobility to Whites. Fast forward 75 years. State and local governments overinvest in punitive interventions like juvenile detention and corrections while under-investing in universal prevention and economic mobility programs thereby reinforcing cycles of poverty.

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What is your solution?

SOLUTION: SaaS EQUITY AUDITS x THRIVE! For governments with high poverty in communities of color, we break systems that perpetuate cycles of poverty with SaaS equity audits and equity-centered budgets.

Government is the largest provider of social services. And studies from the UK and the US have shown that changes in government deployment of resources can yield population level improvements and mitigate disparities. So how do we scale these findings? 

At Thrive! we built an app for this. Thrive! Equity Audits track 80+ measures across typical government agencies like schools, health and human services, child welfare, parks and recreation and police to answer two simple questions: Is money moving toward interventions that have been empirically proven to break cycles of poverty and mitigate disparities in communities of color (like two-generational programming, prenatal interventions and social workers in schools)? And are we authentically sharing power with residents and elevating the voices of Black and Brown people in local decision-making? Using the Equity Audit as a guidepost, Thrive! makes equity-centered budget recommendations with a focus on mitigating disparities and empowerment in communities of color.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

We work with local governments that have made declarations to combat racism in 185 jurisdictions in 30 states. In these places, we support government Chief Equity Officers (CEOs) who tell us they need real solutions for ending disparities; they say the reports about disparities received from other organizations are insufficient. We partner with CEOs and facilitate outreach to BIPOC organizations to create concrete budgets and policies designed to break cycles of poverty in communities of color.

STEP 1: GOVERNMENT STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT. We start with the chief equity officer and meet with other key government officials (like the directors of schools, parks and rec, public health, human services and police) to identify the agencies that will participate in equity audits. Typically, jurisdictions are under legislative or executive mandate to address inequities and identify systemic solutions. We also leverage philanthropic partners to help support the cost of audits. Once a jurisdiction secures financing, we provide access to the software. We anticipate it taking 12 weeks for officials to complete the audit. During that time, we field questions and provide technical assistance. We also conduct due diligence to validate data being provided.

STEP 2: ENGAGE BIPOC -LED & OTHER COMMUNITY PARTNERS. While agencies are working on audits, we identify and brief BIPOC community organizations who will be able to keep governments accountable and implement the forthcoming recommendations. We are mindful that jurisdictions may need additional support with resource allocation and working with communities to share power, so we identify partner organizations to provide this level of support.

STEP 3: SOLICIT BIPOC PARTNER ORGANIZATION INPUT ON FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS. Once the audit is complete, we convene the government and BIPOC-led groups to vet the preliminary findings. At this time, we invite the government and BIPOC to provide additional information and recommendations. After this meeting, we submit final audit scores and recommendations for equity-centered budgeting and power sharing policies.

STEP 4: SUPPORT IMPLEMENTATION. We currently provide training on an evidence-based youth mentoring model to providers in NYC. This model is serving youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. This work entails reading mentor reports, analyzing hours of engagement and convening mentors via zoom to provide technical assistance on implementing the model with fidelity.

SUMMARY. We work as a “middle-man” between governments and residents, brokering the co-creation of antiracist budgets and policies.


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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Provide tools and opportunities for equitable access to jobs, credit, and generational wealth creation in communities of color.
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

our equity audit software provides local governments with a precise roadmap on how to reallocate resources to enhance Black and Brown life. For adults, we recommend investment in upskilling, future of work and continuing education. According to Politics that Work, such investments would yield 3.5 times greater total lifetime earnings which translates to $1.15 million per person/family served.

In collaboration with BIPOC-led community organizations, we submit policy recommendations for governments to engage BIPOC in budgetary decision-making. Not only does this empower Black and Brown communities, but it guards against governments defaulting to investments that harm BIPOC in the future.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Cambridge, MA, USA
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

With a working prototype, in January 2021, I tested our go to market strategy by sending cold emails to 20 Chief Equity Officers (CEOs) across the country, endeavoring to collect information on pain points. I achieved a 60% response rate. Call after call, I listened to challenges, shared what I was working on, and then was asked how much the software cost. Now, CEOs have inquired about our software in: Albuquerque, Allegheny County (PA), Atlanta, Brookline, Burlington (VT), Iowa City, Montgomery County (MD), Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Revere, Tulsa and Washtenaw County (MI). We are in ongoing conversations. The rapid and sustained growth of our sales pipeline is proof of product market fit.

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Omolara Fatiregun

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new technology
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What makes your solution innovative?

First off, there are no quantitative equity audits. Period. Equity work for local governments typically begins and ends with in-actionable disparities reports. Only Thrive! offers a quantitative solution for mitigating disparities, based in empirical evidence AND by addressing the power imbalances that led to the disenfranchisement of people of color in the first place.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • GIS and Geospatial Technology
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Pregnant Women
  • Infants
  • Children & Adolescents
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 10. Reduced Inequality
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

Because of our highly scaleable solution, we have the ability to affect the lives of 38 million Americans living in poverty.


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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

Omolara Fatiregun, Founder and CEO, works 30 hours per week.

Evan Little, Engineer, Contractor.

Additionally, Thrive! has employed a host of contractors for marketing and administrative support.

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How long have you been working on your solution?

1

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Omolara Fatiregun, Founder and CEO, is Adrian Cheng Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Social Innovation and Change Initiative where she is building Thrive! Before launching Thrive!, Omolara advanced high-impact initiatives in foundations, public private partnerships, and government agencies including the Annie E. Casey Foundation as a senior fellow, the Government of the District of Columbia as deputy director of the juvenile justice agency, the Urban Institute and the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation. Through this 17-year career history, she engaged practitioners in education, health, workforce development, child welfare, juvenile justice and conservation. With deep expertise in performance management and program evaluation, she is adept at identifying realistic metrics and monitoring initiatives for lasting change. To that end, Omolara developed measures for Thrive!’s equity index that quantifies a jurisdiction’s commitment to equity based on spending patterns across agencies. Omolara earned a bachelor’s in Sociology and African American Studies from Harvard College, a master’s in public policy from Georgetown, and is currently a doctoral candidate in education leadership at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education where she is also a Harvard Presidential Public Service Fellow. Omolara is an aggressive fundraiser and leads stakeholder engagement during the Thrive! audit process.


Evan Little, serves as Lead Data Architect. Evan is a graduate of University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science in engineering. Evan built the web application for the SaaS Equity Audit MVP and provides ongoing support to maintain and enhance the technology based on user experiences.


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Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Government (B2G)
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Solution Team

 
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