Across Colorado, communities are facing inequities that impact their health and well-being. Factors known as the social determinants of health—including systemic racism, a lack of affordable housing, and environmental concerns—contribute to these inequities. As a project of The Colorado Trust, the Colorado Equity Compass is a data platform that helps communities—and the organizations that serve them—better understand these issues and advocate for change using data and stories.
The Colorado Equity Compass is a partnership between Change Matrix, Colorado Health Institute and Consume & Create. Change Matrix leads ongoing management of the Colorado Equity Compass, builds awareness of the platform and resources, conducts outreach to communities to elevate stories, and offers trainings on equity in data storytelling and action. The Colorado Health Institute leads the Colorado Equity Compass data work and updates. Consume & Create developed the Colorado Equity Compass’s brand identity and continues to develop, refine and enhance the website.
Collectively, the team works to consolidate diverse resources, connect peers, and align and empower communities and institutions via the Equity Data Navigator. Using this tool, users of the Colorado Equity Compass website can view a detailed breakdown of the social determinants of health across any county in Colorado, seeing factors like median family income, education levels, self-reported good health, race/ethnicity data and much more. Often, county-level data isn’t specific enough when communities want to understand differences within a county. A unique feature of the Colorado Equity Compass is its ability to view data down to the census tract level. It also includes a feature to compare any two locations side-by-side for a closer look at inequities across places.
The Colorado Equity Compass team also knows that quantitative data alone is often not enough to make the case for equity. To that end, another unique feature of the Colorado Equity Compass is its ability to connect data to community stories. The platform serves as a hub for community storytelling and resource sharing, highlighting often overlooked and underrepresented qualitative data that paint a clearer picture of the impacts the social determinants of health are having on people in Colorado. In 2022, 20 community advocacy organizations across Colorado received $2,000 each to share social determinants of health-related story content on the site. Collectively, more than 100 stories were received by the Colorado Equity Compass and posted to the site. (Site users can work on telling their own story at any time.) The Colorado Equity Compass is also working to regularly update a collection of related resources.
The Colorado Equity Compass’s mission is to democratize health equity data, and its vision is that one day all Coloradans will feel empowered and inspired to share their own data stories on the site. A new call-to-action section will provide users with the opportunity to connect with other community-based organizations and decision makers in their region.
For more information, please contact Eve Kucharski at the Colorado Equity Compass.
A Better Future for Colorado's Communities
This project aims to advance health equity for Coloradans by focusing attention and efforts on improving outcomes among social determinants of health, using data and information as foundational tools for assessing progress, and directly address the issue of racial and/or ethnic discrimination as a major source of health inequities among Coloradans.
The idea for a Colorado-specific and equity-centered data platform was originally conceptualized by Nancy Csuti (the former vice president of research, evaluation & strategic learning at The Colorado Trust) and approved by The Trust’s board as a pilot project in 2016. The Colorado Equity Compass in its current form began taking shape in 2019. In its first year, the Colorado Equity Compass worked with four pilot sites: the East Colfax neighborhood of Denver; Larimer County; the mountain region of Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties; and southeast Colorado Springs. The pilot engaged these communities to explore needs, resources and data that would inspire and enable them to take action toward building a more healthy and equitable community. The insights gained from this process helped to form the Colorado Equity Compass and continue to inform its work today.
Additional support was initially provided by the Colorado Futures Center, which developed the first iteration of the resource library and provided data analyses; Shift Research Lab, which led the data work; and Junious Williams Consulting Inc., which provided strategic coaching, program design support and thought leadership around equity and community engagement.