RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy

An illustration of people from diverse racial backgrounds. Image by Lyubov Ivanova / Getty Images

Illustration by Lyubov Ivanova / Getty Images

Against the backdrop of a pandemic that was already inflicting disproportionate physical and economic pain on communities of color, and an overdue reckoning with America's long history of systemic inequity and structural racism, the RAND Corporation launched the RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy in 2020.

The center was funded by an initial $1 million from donor contributions and RAND’s own resources to support a growing portfolio of innovative, high-impact racial equity research and analysis at RAND, create a clearinghouse to help coordinate related efforts, and collaborate with organizations dedicated to advancing racial equity. Fundraising for the center is a priority in RAND’s Tomorrow Demands Today $400 million campaign.

“The evidence is clear regarding persistent racial inequities in the settings that define our daily lives—the neighborhood, the hospital, the classroom, and the U.S. criminal justice system,” said Michael D. Rich, president and CEO. “RAND has an obligation to address these problems, but it will not be enough to conduct more research. We will need to convert that research into action.”

The center emerged from an effort by RAND to take stock of where it stands on how policy analysis is designed, framed, executed and translated, and the role of factors related to diversity, equity and inclusion. The center’s blueprint was developed with the input of RAND staff, and the center is part of a larger commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the organization’s operations and external engagement.

Read more about the Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy

Projects in Progress

As one way to demonstrate RAND’s commitment to advancing equity, several projects focused on racial and ethnic equity were funded in late 2020 by gifts from RAND supporters, income from operations, and independent research and development provisions of RAND’s contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers. This slate of RAND-initiated research is currently underway, addressing critical policy questions in education, environmental policy, health care, the justice system, military service members and veterans, and national security.

  • Redressing the Black-White Wealth Disparity

    This effort is anchored through the lens of reparations, with a fresh look at policy options and as a broader concept that recognizes that the government has played an active role in creating Black-White economic disparity, and therefore could play an active role in reducing it. Led by Kathryn Edwards and Jonathan Welburn.

  • Ensuring Technology is Fair and Equitable Across All Sectors

    RAND is developing software and a toolkit for identifying biases within existing machine learning algorithms and for adjusting those algorithms’ output to minimize any racial inequities resulting from their use. This work extends across military and civilian sectors. Led by Irineo Cabreros and Joshua Snoke.

  • Mapping Environmental Racism

    There are racial disparities in exposure to environmental hazards in the United States. This project examines historic structurally discriminatory policies and environmental health disparities to create an interactive visualization tool that can be used to promote environmental equity. Led by Jaime Madrigano and Benjamin Preston.

Read the full list of projects


Research and Commentary

We've highlighted a small sample of RAND research and commentary below that addresses the challenge of racial equity from a variety of angles, and across multiple research disciplines.

Health and Well-Being

  • Dieumeeci Ufitimana, (C) signs up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Bethel AME Church in St. Petersburg, Florida, July 23, 2021, photo by Octavio Jones/Reuters


    Equitable Data Analysis: Lessons from a COVID-19 Research Collaborative

    Jul 27, 2021

    The health inequities exposed by COVID-19 underscored the importance of collecting race-stratified data to inform local policymakers. For the public health researchers trying to provide that, the pandemic also revealed some major pitfalls, especially about relying on open-source data.


  • Kindergarten teacher Princess Bryant (R) and paraprofessional Emily Lichtenstein meet their incoming students and parents remotely before the first day of classes in the new school year at the Tynan Elementary School in Boston, Massachusetts, September 18, 2020, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters


    How State Critical Race Theory Bans Could Trickle Down to the Classroom

    Aug 31, 2021

    Given the potential blowback to teaching anything related to race or gender, avoiding lessons on the experiences of women or people of color will be the path of least resistance in many schools. But discussing racism and sexism in a safe environment is crucial for students to become active, knowledgeable citizens.

Security and Public Safety

Economic Opportunity

RAND's Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion