Researchers’ Experiences Inform Recommendations for Funders to Facilitate Racial Equity in Research

Research BriefBlack Children & FamiliesFeb 22 2023

Funders of research—including federal and state agencies, philanthropic foundations, and nonprofit organizations—play a key role in shaping efforts to incorporate equity in research. This role may include conceptualizing, designing, conducting, and disseminating racial equity in research. However, for funders to effectively facilitate equity in research, they should understand researchers’ experiences with implementing racial equity methods.

This brief aims to connect researchers’ experiences and funders’ work in racial equity. We interviewed several Child Trends researchers who have many years of experience integrating racial equity in research. We aimed to understand researchers’ motivations for engaging in racial equity work, garner examples of how they have incorporated racial equity in their research, and determine the supports needed to integrate racial equity methods in research. Based on findings from these interviews—and discussions with our program officer at the Annie E. Casey Foundation—we provide key recommendations for funders to better support equity-focused research.

The full brief, available for download, shares key themes and quotes from researchers’ experiences, as captured in our interviews, and provides context and detail on our recommendations to funders. We present our recommendations to funders on:

  • Requesting and evaluating racial equity work
  • Adjusting funding structures for racial equity work
  • Building capacity among researchers and communities in racial equity work
  • Reflecting on funders’ roles in racial equity research


Key Themes from Child Trends Researchers’ Experiences with Racial Equity Methods in Research

These key themes from our interviews with Child Trends researchers support our recommendations to funders. We provide detailed context and insight into these themes in the full-text brief.

Defining and shaping racial equity in research

  • For the researchers, racial equity in research centers lived experiences, investigates structures that cause disparities, applies an asset-based approach, thoughtfully incorporates race, maintains transparency in research decisions, and honors community members.
  • Researchers’ lived experiences shape their approach to research and can provide context to challenge research assumptions, particularly research based on Eurocentric assumptions.

Integrating racial equity methods in research

  • Researchers prioritize transparency, reflection, equitable compensation, capacity building, and community input to establish relationships with community members.
  • Researchers seek to include community voice while taking care to mitigate research burden and respect community members’ interests and time.

Improving processes to facilitate racial equity in research

  • Researchers noted that conducting racial equity work will inevitably require adjustments in research organizations’ internal infrastructures and operations (e.g., IRB processes, accounting processes, and communication and dissemination processes).
  • Researchers recognize that funders play a critical role in facilitating racial equity research and can adjust and reflect on their current funding processes to further support racial equity work.

Key Recommendations for Funders

Below we present our recommendations for funders to better support equity-focused research. We provide context and detail on each of these recommendations in the downloadable full-text brief.

Requesting and evaluating racial equity work

  • Collaborate with communities to develop racial equity criteria for proposals and measures of success that are more relevant for racial equity work.
  • Request racial equity criteria in proposals to gauge the thoughtfulness of proposed racial equity work.
  • Elevate additional metrics of success that are aligned with racial equity and community-engaged work.

Adjusting funding structures for racial equity work

  • Allow sufficient time and funds within a funding cycle for researchers to conduct thorough racial equity and community engagement work.
  • Create more open, flexible funding mechanisms to support the flexibility needed to conduct racial equity work.

Building capacity for racial equity work

  • Foster communities of learning and capacity-building specifically to support racial equity research.
  • Build the capacity of researchers and research organizations to support processes needed for racial equity research.
  • Ensure transparency with communities regarding their involvement with research and protect against community exploitation and burnout.

Reflecting on funders’ roles in racial equity work

  • Create a culture that supports funders in building rapport and transparent communication with grantees to mitigate power dynamics.
  • Maintain an adaptable attitude to scopes of work that evolve and shift to be more responsive to community needs and perspectives.
  • Reflect on processes for identifying research partners.




Suggested citation

Parekh, J., & Angeles-Figueroa, J. (2023). Researchers’ experiences inform recommendations for funders to facilitate racial equity in research. Child Trends.