Lessons learned from BMPs new race equity assessment development process


Written by Mercedes Brown (Director of Race Equity Assessment, BMP)

In my previous blog, I celebrated the public launch of Building Movement Project’s (BMP) automated race equity assessment, Building Blocks for Change (BB4C). With this installment in our Accelerating Organizational Race Equity blog series, I am excited to highlight key lessons from the BB4C development process. 


BMPs Race to Lead research series inspired us to create the assessment because we heard that nonprofit leaders wanted to address racial inequity within their organizations, but needed expert-tested recommendations and resources. Working to meet that need has taken years of planning, testing, and adjustment. 

One early learning in the testing process was that the assessment needed an overall framework to identify the most impactful drivers of organizational change. In partnership with our Advisory Committee, we identified four foundational Capacities—Learning, Leadership, Conversation, and Voice. Within these capacities, we also noted that Motivation, Practices, and Structures were critical to making workplaces more equitable, so we labeled them our key Focus Areas.  This framework of four capacities and three focus areas is the bedrock of the BB4C assessment and positions organizations to easily interpret their custom report findings. The framework also helps organizations shift to action as they work to foster more equitable and inclusive cultures.


From the outset, BMP was committed to developing a highly accessible tool that would reach as many nonprofits as possible. We hoped the assessment would be used by nonprofits directly, capacity builders, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) consultants with their nonprofit clients, funders with their grantees, membership organizations with their members, etc. To reach that breadth and scale of users, we needed to develop – and rigorously test and refine – an automated process, one that was user-friendly for organizations and easy for us to administer across a large number of nonprofits. To that end, BMP developed a race equity assessment that is complementary to the work of the consultants and capacity builders supporting nonprofits by offering survey administration, automated data analysis, custom reports, and wraparound process support materials; while also being adaptable for use by nonprofits directly. In addition, by tracking and analyzing data across participating organizations, BMP will be able to lift field-level insights to help shift race equity practices across the sector. 


Our robust assessment process is much more than an anonymized staff survey and report. Beta testing confirmed that organizations committed to building racially equitable workplaces need substantial support as they aim to understand their current barriers to becoming a more inclusive workplace. That is why we developed and tested a robust digital library of tools and resources that complement the assessment process. These wraparound materials range from tutorial videos, worksheets, sample meeting agenda templates, and vetted national resources to assist the organization through the assessment process.   


Before the public launch, BMP worked with a data scientist and psychometrician to conduct a data analysis review and survey validation process. We could have simply rested on the years of beta testing under our belt and expert advice from our advisory committee, but we wanted to test our assumption – that we were asking the right questions in the survey, that the questions reflected the capacities and focus areas in the BB4C framework, and that our data security practices complied with industry standards. Following the validation, we improved our data analysis approach and refined other processes where needed. 
Thanks for making it through the second post in our Accelerating Organizational Race Equity blog series. Future posts will dig into the BB4C assessment framework and share what we’re hearing and learning from BB4C participants. Until then, please visit the Building Blocks for Change website to learn more about the tool, consider bringing it to your organization, and share it with your networks!

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