Chicago Beyond: Why Am I Always Being Researched?

Why Am I Always Being Researched? is a new guidebook from impact investor Chicago Beyond designed for those looking to leverage resources to create impact across the city’s neighborhoods and beyond. The guidebook calls out seven ways power holds inequity in place and seven opportunities for change. While the publication talks about these power dynamics in a research setting, there is no denying they show up in other ways as we try to build a more equitable Chicago together. Why Am I Always Being Researched? pushes the reader to recognize their own bias, from working in and with community, funding and decision-making processes, to the questions we ask, to who has the privilege of taking a seat at the board room table, and more. This is a resource for anyone who seeks to make a change by first centering communities as leaders and owners of their own experiences and stories.

As an impact investor that backs the fight for youth equity, Chicago Beyond has partnered with and invested in community organizations all working towards providing more equitable access and opportunity to young people across Chicago. In many cases, we have also invested in sizable research projects to help our community partners grow the impact of their work. Our hope is that the research will generate learnings to impact more youth in our city and nationwide, and arm our partners with “evidence” they need to go after more funding for what is working.

Through the course of our investing, another sort of evidence emerged: evidence that the power dynamic between community organizations, researchers, and funders blocks information that could drive better decision-making and fuel more investment in communities most in need.

This power dynamic creates an uneven field on which research is designed and allows unintended bias to seep into how knowledge is generated. If we do not address the power dynamic in the creation of research, at best, we are driving decision-making from partial truths. At worst, we are generating inaccurate information that ultimately does more harm than good in our communities. This is why we must care about how research is created.

In this publication, we offer “how” we can begin to level the playing field and reckon with unintended bias when it comes to research. Chicago Beyond created this guidebook to help shift the power dynamic and the way community organizations, researchers, and funders uncover knowledge together. It is an equity-based approach to research that offers one way in which we can restore communities as authors and owners. It is based on the steps and missteps of Chicago Beyond’s own experience funding community organizations and research, and the courageous and patient efforts of our partners, the youth they serve, and others with whom we have learned.

To access the guidebook, visit this web page.

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