Step Up Savannah Embarks on the Development of a Groundbreaking Equity Index to Drive Community Development & Inclusionary Growth

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

Step Up Savannah, a leading advocate for social and economic justice in the Southeast, in partnership with InvestHealth, is proud to announce the development and implementation of a new tool coming to the community, the Equity Index. This comprehensive tool will be designed to address disparities caused by marginalization and disenfranchisement, paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive community.

The Equity Index, will be modeled after the city of Tacoma’s and will be developed with the assistance of a dedicated data team that includes Step Up Savannah, East Savannah United, City of Savannah, and Healthy Savannah. The project represents a paradigm shift in how we approach community development. Unlike traditional deficit-based models, this new index will adopt an asset-based approach, focusing on identifying areas of both higher and lower opportunity across five weighted Quality of Life Quadrants: Livability, Economic Opportunity, Accessibility, Health & Environment, and Education. Additionally, the Equity Index will not be a flat list of dashboards instead it will be an active data-driven tool to see where our projects, policies, programs or services can have the largest impact on addressing inequity, inclusionary growth, and where investment can provide the biggest improvement in factors that impact quality of life outcomes for families and individuals living in the city of Savannah and the County of Chatham"Currently, our community does not have a tool that helps us with data-driven decision making focused on inclusionary growth. We do not have a truth north regarding data and we have multiple users, with multiple sources, across multiple agencies without an equity-based framework. Our goal with the Equity Index is to create a tool that can be used by our community members, municipalities, and decision-makers to help guide equitable policy, programming, and investment." said Alicia M. Johnson, Executive Director of Step Up Savannah. "By acknowledging existing disparities and leveraging data-driven insights, we can better guide equitable program service delivery and resource allocation."

The Equity Index serves multiple purposes, including prioritizing funding, policy analysis, program evaluation, identifying service and resource gaps, justifying change, amplifying advocacy efforts, and accelerating equity across economic, racial, and health domains.

Savannah is 1 of only 10 small and mid-sized cities nationwide participating in the City Health Dashboard’s inaugural Data Challenge. The grant will help Savannah leverage data to better understand local health and neighborhood condition challenges and help target resources to community development strategies that ensure everyone has a fair and just opportunity to achieve their best health.

The 10 communities selected for the Data Challenge are: Buffalo, New York; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Hartford, Connecticut; Jackson, Tennessee; Missoula, Montana; New Britain, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island; Roanoke, Virginia; Roseville, California; and Savannah, Georgia.

The winners will also participate in a year-long working group that will use data and collaboration to advance more equitable community development investment that improves the social drivers of health.

Some of the key features of the Equity Index include:

  • Quality of Life Quadrants: Livability, Economic Opportunity, Accessibility, Health & Environment, and Education.

  • Data-driven Approach: Utilizing a wide range of data sources and indicators to provide a comprehensive view of community needs.

  • Asset-based Approach: Focusing on strengths and opportunities rather than deficits.

  • Prioritization: Identifying areas for targeted intervention and resource allocation to drive meaningful change.

The Equity Index Data Team will invite community members, policymakers, and stakeholders to explore the Equity Index throughout its development and join the movement towards a more equitable future.

For more information about Step Up Savannah, please visit the website or contact us at 912-232-6747.