A Framework for Change: Mapping Connections between Systems, Communities, and Schools


Brown v. Board of Education documents Courtesy: National Archives and Records Administration

With support from the AIR Equity Initiative, a group of staff from across AIR conducted landscape scans of residential mobility studies, examined policies and local investments in communities, and reviewed the history of and responses to community and school segregation. The working group also identified gaps in the research and technical assistance related to school desegregation and integration efforts.

These efforts underscored the need for theories of change that reflect system level connections in the design, implementation, and evaluation of efforts to advance equity. Theories of change provide explicit statements of how programs, policies, and practices operate to contribute to desired effects. They surface key assumptions and set the stage for quality design of interventions and evaluations.

The working group developed a tool to equip researchers and technical assistance providers at AIR and elsewhere to conceptualize the link between residential and school segregation and how to respond. The tool was designed to further encourage how systems, their elements, context, and interconnections may aid or hinder change.

Please watch the video above for a brief introduction to the theory of change.

The interactive diagram below is designed for users to interact with some candidate categories the working group viewed as important for the theory of change. The examples included in the interactive tool, which are largely drawn from the housing and educational sectors, are not meant to be exhaustive. Instead, they illustrate the many ways that inequities and segregation are perpetuated and the various considerations that are required to disrupt and mitigate their harms.

As you navigate the tool, we encourage you to reflect on the following questions:

The interactive diagram demonstrates how AIR is using a theory of change to study and address educational and housing inequities and may help others ask the right questions as they address the challenges facing their communities.

For any questions or additional information, please contact Wehmah Jones: wjones@air.org.