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Prominent Santa Monica-Based Think Tank Launches Racial Equity Policy Center

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By Lookout Staff

August 13, 2020 -- The Santa Monica-based RAND Corporation announced Wednesday that it is launching a center with an initial $1 million in funding to help promote racial equity.

The prestigious think tank has made the new RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy a priority in RAND’s recently launched Tomorrow Demands Today $400 million campaign, officials said.

The center will support RAND's ongoing "innovative, high-impact" racial equity research and analysis, create a clearinghouse to help coordinate related efforts and collaborate with organizations dedicated to advancing racial equity, officials said.

The center is being launched "against the backdrop of a pandemic inflicting disproportionate physical and economic pain on communities of color, and an overdue reckoning with America's long history of systemic inequity and structural racism," said a statement issued by RAND.

“The evidence is clear regarding persistent racial inequities in the settings that define our daily lives -- the neighborhood, the hospital, the classroom, and the U.S. criminal justice system,” said Michael D. Rich, president and CEO of the nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank.

“RAND has an obligation to address these problems, but it will not be enough to conduct more research," Rich said. "We will need to convert that research into action.”

RAND is undertaking a search for a director with "a track record in racial equity systems and policy research and action, including engaging diverse stakeholder groups and conducting outreach in areas such as community-building and dissemination of research and analysis findings," officials said.

“We must examine where inequities intersect across systems and groups (and) represent voices that are too often left out of leadership on these topics, said Anita Chandra, vice president for RAND’s Social and Economic Well-Being research division.

The Center also must "integrate the structural contexts in which policies have been developed and applied sometimes with unintended consequences,” Chandra said.

RAND already has conducted research on how principals and teachers can better support students of color and how California can improve mental health outcomes for Latino and Black residents, officials said.

It also has studied how the military and public safety agencies can diversify their workforce; and how to estimate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on communities of color.

"The center will usher in a new phase of RAND racial equity research and action that goes deeper into the policies that underlie systemic racism and what it will take to build future systems and policies that advance racial equity," officials said.

RAND’s "commitment to objectivity and nonpartisanship" should help bring a wider range of perspectives and policy solutions to address the issue, officials said.

“We bring a perspective and history with decisionmakers that can support conversations about the policy options to dismantle systemic racism,” Chandra said.

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