Using Data to Boost Your Advocacy Efforts

Residents collect data to shape the narrative about their community and strengthen their advocacy efforts against inequitable policies.

With support from the Vitalyst Health Foundation, two areas of Phoenix—Maryvale and South Phoenix—are using data and research to change police-community relationships and reform the criminal justice system. As part of the foundation’s investments to increase civic participation in Phoenix, Vitalyst funded a community-based participatory action research project to investigate how police interactions and discriminatory laws affect the health of Maryvale and South Phoenix residents.

Building community data capacity is central to the community-based participatory action research approach. The project kicked off in 2018, with Vitalyst giving a grant to a nonprofit organization trusted by the Maryvale and South Phoenix communities to support the process. In collaboration with a researcher selected by the communities, the people living in Maryvale and South Phoenix are leading the project, designing data collection tools, conducting door-to-door surveys, and taking an active role in analyzing data. Residents are compensated for their time and work. The project’s goal is to survey 12,000 residents about the health impacts of police interactions and discriminatory laws by the end of 2020. Community residents will be involved in the data analysis and can use the findings to strengthen advocacy efforts with elected officials and local funders. Vitalyst anticipates supporting these advocacy efforts by providing leadership training for residents.