Disrupting Patterns of Inequity

The Challenge
Over the last several years, we noticed patterns in our research. Regardless of the community we worked with, or the issue we tackled, the same insights around inequity emerged across dozens of projects. These pervasive, recurring themes not only highlighted our broken system through the eyes of individuals experiencing inequity but called for widespread change. We couldn’t ignore these “metathemes”…and we were inspired to act.


The Approach
The first step to fixing a broken system is to start from the inside. We partnered with United Way of Greater Cincinnati, which invests in nearly 140 social service agencies in the region, to deeply research these metathemes, develop a framework, and share what we learned so that we could begin to address these inequities. Read the full report.


The Details

Our work included:

  • Developing a research methodology based on human-centered design and intersectional analysis
  • Identifying six pervasive, cross-cutting patterns from over 30 past projects
  • Analyzing insights from 300 diverse, one-on-one interviews
  • Building a comprehensive insight database, which doubled as a prototype for an open-access archive of qualitative, community-based data

United Way of Greater Cincinnati



Systems Change



2016 – ongoing

It’s deeply relevant. In a way, you are strumming my pain with your fingers. . .I just think is really exciting because it feels like we are trying to build a spaceship while we are driving a car. We are trying to model a different way of working for the field. . .this report helps us see better.

Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy

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