For the first time, “eliminating racist policies and practices and promoting racial equity” was identified as the most important issue confronting the State of Ohio, according to our 2021 survey. Respondents came from across Ohio and included nonprofit executives, elected officials, business people, professors, students, and foundation program officers. More than 330 people responded to the online survey, which The Center for Community Solutions conducted to gather information from our audience.What do YOU think are the MOST important issues confronting the State of Ohio? Click To Tweet
Racial equity issues and the social services safety net moved ahead of “helping low-income Ohioans move out of poverty,” which was identified as the top concern the last two times we asked this question, in 2016 and 2019.
Below is a list of health, social and economic conditions confronting the State of Ohio. Please mark up to three that are most important to you and your work.
|1||Eliminating racist policies and practices and promoting racial equity|
|2||The social services safety net and basic needs like food and housing|
|3||Inequality of income and opportunity|
|4||Helping low-income Ohioans move out of poverty|
|5||Behavioral health services for those with mental illness or substance use disorders|
|6||Economic development, job training, and employment|
|7||K-12 education funding and performance|
|8||Services for older adults|
|9||Health care delivery reform|
|10||Financing local and state services|
Community Solutions is committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion both internally and externally. This goal was added to our latest strategic plan, which was adopted in early 2020.
Respondents in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors ranked “helping low-income Ohioans move out of poverty” slightly higher than the overall sample, while those who work for a government agency ranked the social services safety net first, followed by racial equity and behavioral health services.
The survey provides a rich list of public policy issues which are often overlooked. We collected more than 300 suggestions on a wide range of topics. Of those, addressing racism was the most common. Comments on the topic of racism focused on addressing systemic and institutional racism in practice, instead of only discussing racism in theory. Respondents commented on both the need to address implicit bias, and how overt racism has become in recent years. Some highlighted the impact racism has on social, health and economic outcomes.
Many also indicated particular health care and health issues such as a lack of access to affordable health care, health insurance, and prescriptions. Multiple comments highlighted the importance of addressing health disparities among women, LGBTQ Ohioans, and Black Ohioans. Several responses focused on the importance of considering the social determinants of health. The third most common topic was the need to help low-income Ohioans. This included the challenge for those in poverty to access essential services. Multiple people brought up income inequality, livable wages, benefit cliffs and the multifaceted needs of low-income Ohioans. Commenters stated that low-income Ohioans need more funding and more support. Other common topics included housing, mental health, education, older adults, transportation, taxes, the economy, climate change and sexual health. Clearly Ohio’s challenges are wide-ranging and multi-faceted.
How do we gauge our work?
Community Solutions seeks to provide thought leadership, encourage collaboration, identify sustainable solutions, and ultimately improve health and social conditions. Based on feedback from our audience, we seem to be doing well on those measures. More than 80 percent of respondents also agreed that our work is accurate and credible and addresses relevant issues. Around two-thirds see us as nonpartisan. We will continue to work to maintain Community Solutions’ reputation as a trusted source of information about community conditions and policy solutions.
Since the survey was distributed through our normal communications channels, everyone who responded is connected to Community Solutions in some way. Even among those who are familiar with Community Solutions, a smaller share of respondents believe that our work is having an impact. Less than one-third indicated that Community Solutions has a large impact, and another 44 percent said that we have somewhat of an impact. Nearly 1 in 5 respondents were not sure. Those who said Community Solutions has a large impact pointed to our data-driven analysis and advocacy. A few sample quotes are included below. Also included below are quotes from respondents who believe Community Solutions has a smaller impact. Common themes included a lack of appetite among state policymakers for Community Solutions’ priority issues and the need to improve our reach and the number of people familiar with our work.
How are people using our work?
It comes as no surprise that most of our audience is familiar with the weekly “Five Things You Need to Know” emails. “Five Things” was followed by Community Solutions’ research and data on poverty and basic needs and state budget advocacy. As work shifted to being remote during the COVID-19 pandemic, Community Solutions immediately responded by introducing regular webinars on Friday afternoons. The popular events reach an average of more than 180 attendees each session and more than half of those who responded to the survey were familiar with these events.
Two-thirds of respondents had consulted Community Solutions for information about poverty or other data.
Two-thirds of respondents had consulted Community Solutions for information about poverty or other data, and more than half came to us looking for resources about the health and social service safety net. The third most-common topic was state or county budget information.
People working in philanthropy were about one and a half times as likely as the full sample to consult information on racial equity and inclusion from Community Solutions. They were also more likely to examine our work on poverty and the health and social services safety net. On the other hand, respondents who work in government used Community Solutions’ resources on specific issues such as Medicaid, older adults and mental health more often than the overall sample.
Respondents who work in government used Community Solutions’ resources on specific issues such as Medicaid, older adults and mental health more often than the overall sample.
Nearly everyone who utilized Community Solutions’ products on these key topics found them to be useful. Between 70 and 80 percent said they found Community Solutions’ information to be very useful, and fewer than 3 percent said any topic was not useful or they weren’t sure. This indicates that the publications and webinars we produce are helpful to those working in health and social services and that our staff’s expertise is valued.
Who responded to the survey?
The 2021 Community Solutions survey was distributed through our regular communication channels, including the Five Things You Need to Know email list and social media. Respondents could enter a raffle to receive a $50 gift card as a thank you for their time (Congratulations Gil Kudran!) We received 385 responses during January 2021. While the largest share were from Northeast Ohio, respondents came from across the state, covering 141 different ZIP codes.
While the largest share were from Northeast Ohio, respondents came from across the state, covering 141 different ZIP codes.
The majority of respondents, 81 percent, were white. Thirteen percent identified themselves as Black or African American, 3 percent were Hispanic or Latino, and 2 percent were Asian or Asian American. We can do better to reach a more diverse audience.
More than 150 responses came from the nonprofit sector, representing 46 percent of the total. Sixty-two people who work for government agencies and the public sector are included, as well as a dozen from philanthropic organizations. Retirees, business people and students and professors were also included. Respondents were nearly evenly split between managers or administrators, executives, or professional staff. The survey reached very few community members and a handful of elected officials.
Thank you to all who participated!
The Center for Community Solutions will use these survey results to focus our efforts, improve our impact, and make a difference in health, social and economic conditions in Ohio. Thank you to all who participated!