Areas of Focus

We aim to reduce longstanding and 
intersecting forms of inequality.

We aim to reduce longstanding and
intersecting forms of inequality.

Areas of Focus

Chicago is a global city, at once a bastion of innovation and wealth but also home to some of the nation’s sharpest wealth and racial inequalities. Its longstanding history of being one of the most segregated cities in the country has severe consequences for all residents. Almost all urban social issues, including rising violence and plummeting educational outcomes, are determined by broader patterns of inequalities. There are limits to how much social change we can achieve if we ignore these inequalities and only treat their symptoms. We must address the growing forms of inequality or we will be treating its symptoms in perpetuity.

The Center for Equitable Cities exists to advance a vision for the equitable city that will reduce longstanding and intersecting forms of inequality. It will achieve this by being a resource hub, policy leader, and an action research convener to community stakeholders, advocates, and policymakers.

Over and over again we fail to fully address the hard questions when it comes to our city’s most pressing issues. This center will develop projects to take up the hard questions about inequality and equality as to propose innovative policy solutions that will have the most equitable impact.

Resource Hub

As a resource hub, the Center will act as a ‘one stop shop’ for those seeking to learn about what equitable cities can and should look like. To this end, as a hub, the Center will creatively present research and policy findings through blog posts and interactive reports that will identify the intersections of inequality and the promising solutions for reversing it. Thus, the Center will position itself as a “go to” resource for innovative public education materials about the importance of equitable policy change. Most recently, center staff was centrally involved in the following Public Education Campaigns: Chicago’s Million Dollar Blocks and Justice Divided.

Executive Director Daniel Cooper, Ph.D. also co-authored the forthcoming book The War on Neighborhoods: Policing, Prison, and Punishment in a Divided City, which will be released April 2018 by Beacon Press. It uses primary qualitative research to describe how decades of punitive policies have created more divided and disadvantaged neighborhoods in cities like Chicago. It also advances more equitable policies and pathways to public safety.

Current Projects: Chicago Violence: The Bigger Picture. The Center is analyzing historical crime and violence trends in Chicago to present a more nuanced picture of our crisis and how we might better address it by tackling longstanding inequalities. Report to be released in Winter 2017.

Policy Leadership

The Center strives to provide real policy leadership to push our systems toward a paradigm shift in equitable policymaking. Guided by Adler University’s social justice mission and commitment to community wellbeing, the Center will examine gaps and opportunities in legislation, policy, as well as resource allocation so that we may set the agenda for policymakers and stakeholders to address the sources of urban inequality.

Current Projects: The Equitable City Policy Scorecard. We believe that in order to witness a shift in equitable policies, there must be a clear benchmark set. The Center will be releasing a website dedicated to scoring Chicago’s progress relative to other cities. We aspire for Chicago to be a global leader in equitable policy, and this project both helps set the vision and holds our city accountable. First report components to be released in Winter 2017-2018.

Action Research Convener

The Center also acts as an action research convener. It will conduct action research (research with other organizations that is designed to have an immediate, applied impact) with Chicago organizations to uncover the connections between different facets of inequality. Understanding these connections is essential to advancing aligned collective approaches, so as to have a greater impact on equitable policy change. By incorporating and presenting a broad range of perspectives and voices on urban inequality across organizations and neighborhoods, we hope to align efforts to advocate for progressive policies for greater impact.

Current Projects: The Faces of Inequality. Just like there are many facets of inequality, there are many faces and perspectives. In collaboration with community groups and diverse stakeholders, the Center is working to present multiple perspectives on how inequality affects different identities and populations and how lives could be improved through equitable policy change. First, report components to be released in early 2018.