We have the Wellbeing Index—a data tool that was first created to measure how communities are really doing. Before we created the index, we realized that our city departments were collecting data about processes that had since changed or information they had previously used to apply for funding. They no longer used this data and we couldn’t use it either. When we asked, “Why do you collect this?” the answer was, “Because we always have.” We needed to start from square one and look at what measures would give us valuable data to help build a strong community. So, we shifted to measure things like voting rates, how frequently people volunteered, and whether they felt they could influence things in the city.
As we were creating the index, we realized that what we were developing was actually an equity tool. And each time, we saw the same disparities in wellbeing appearing among the same groups—communities of color consistently had lower wellbeing than their white counterparts. A big lightbulb moment for us was knowing that even with all the great programs our city has, there are still gaps that need to be filled to ensure health equity for everyone.