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Tulsa Releases 2020 Equality Indicators Report; Interactive Website Launched, Learning Series Announced

12/4/2020
This article was archived on 3/5/2021

The Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity (MORE) and the Community Service Council (CSC) released the third Tulsa Equality Indicators Report, with results showing a continued upward trend.

To better understand this report, CSC has launched a new website and the City has planned a virtual learning series in the coming months (more information below).

Tulsa improved over last years’ score, with an overall 2020 score that increased to 39.61 out of 100, up from the baseline score of 37.07 in 2018 and 38.22 in 2019 (prior years’ scores have been adjusted for indicator changes). These increases primarily reflect progress within the themes of Education, Services and Public Health.

“The Equality Indicators Report continues to serve as a tool to track our progress across various sectors so we can work collectively to create a more equitable city,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “This report is part of our commitment to continue to realize the disparities that exist in Tulsa so we can create forward-thinking policies and programs that give every Tulsan an equal shot at a great life.”

Using methodology developed by the City University of New York, Institute for State and Local Governance (CUNY ISLG), the report uses 54 indicators equally distributed across six themes to measure and track the level of inequality in Tulsa. Each indicator is scored on a scale from 1 (full inequality) to 100 (full equality).

“The Community Service Council knows first-hand from our research and the populations we serve that racial disparities and inequity in opportunities are a harsh reality here in Tulsa,” said Pam Ballard, CEO of the Community Service Council. “CSC is honored to work with the City on the Tulsa Equality Indicators – these 54 indicators vividly shine a light on the areas we most need to focus on as we strive to build a more equitable and just community.”

This year, the highest scoring indicators were Homelessness by Veteran Status, with a score of 93, and Graduation by English Proficiency, with a score of 82. These scores represent the highest level of full equality in this report.

The lowest scoring indicators were Business Executives by Race (assesses disparities in opportunities for wealth accumulation), Payday Loans and Banks by Geography (assesses access to financial stability due to low interest rate loans and opportunity for wealth accumulation), and Food Deserts by Geography, each scoring 1 out of 100. These scores represent the highest level of full inequality in this report.

Theme Scores:

Education: 46.22 - Up 6 points from 2019 – Up 8.56 points from 2018 baseline
This year, the highest scoring improvement theme was Education. Tulsa has increased in Education scores each year, with this year showing the greatest improvement. The increase can be attributed to a narrowing disparity in absenteeism, high school drop-out rates, high school graduation rates and college completion.

Services: 43.44 - Up 4 points from 2019 – Up 6.67 points from 2018 baseline
Up 6.67 points from 2018, the Services theme indicates there is a declining disparity among groups of Tulsans in access to key resources that can make a difference in their opportunities. Gaps in particular resources, such as internet access, greatly narrowed, resulting in an increase of 39 points for a 2020 equality score of 78. 

Economic Opportunity: 30.78 - Up .89 points from 2019 - Up .78 points from 2018 baseline
Though the Economic Opportunity theme rose, it has scored the lowest out of all six themes this year. Much work remains to increase upward mobility for more disadvantaged Tulsans, but recent moves to boost economic growth through various initiatives are underway.

Public Health: 43.78 - No change from 2019 – Up 3.89 points from 2018 baseline
Public Health continues to be one of the highest scoring themes, though its score did not change since last year. Health Care Access, the highest scoring topic, includes Health Insurance by Race, which indicates Tulsans, regardless of race, are relatively equally uninsured, and - comparison of Tulsa vs. national Veterans Affairs clinic wait times – both of which remain two of Tulsa’s top scoring indicators. 

Housing:41.89 - Down .22 points from 2019 – Down .89 points from 2018 baseline
Lack of affordable housing is a key contributor to the slight decrease in this score from last year. In spite of a 3-point score increase in the Rent Burden by Income indicator, growing proportions of both lower and higher income renter households experience rent burden in Tulsa. To combat rent burden, homelessness and more, the City of Tulsa has launched the Affordable Housing Strategy to provide more affordable housing units and help reduce evictions in Tulsa.

Justice: 31.56 - Down 2.33 points from 2019 – Down 3.78 points from 2018 baseline
Justice is down year-over-year, and down from the 2018 baseline score of 35.33. Hispanic/Latinx representation in the Tulsa Police Department increased from the 2018 baseline average. The starkest decline in Justice came from the Safety and Violence topics, which was down 9.67 points from the 2018 baseline. The declining Safety and Violence score can be attributed to increases in disparity between Tulsa and the nation in child abuse and neglect, and in homicide victimization by race. 

This years’ report also includes new sections to help Tulsans understand the indicators and goals of the Equality Indicators report, including:

  1. A more in-depth discussion of each theme and indicator
  2. A spotlight piece on centering racial equity when reporting data on disparities by Dr. Delia Kimbrel
  3. A section on city and regional demographic and amenities profiles

The City and CSC update the report annually to reflect community input and data availability. The indicators below are new indicators in 2020 report:

  1. Business Executives by Race replaces Sales Volume by Geography
  2. High-Wage Occupations by Race replaces Labor Force Participation by Geography
  3. Postsecondary Opportunities Participation by Race replaces Advanced Placement Course by Race
  4. Third Grade Reading Proficiency by Income replaces Elementary School Reading Proficiency by Income
  5. Food Deserts by Geography replaces Teen Births by Race
  6. Mentally Unhealthy Days by Income replaces Preterm Births by Race
  7. Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities by comparison to National Average replaces Public Library Hours by Geography

Though the 2020 results do not capture the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the report helps identify progress or lack of progress in efforts to increase equity in Tulsa since the report’s inception in 2018, and will serve as a guide for focusing Tulsa’s recovery efforts to avoid growth in disparities due to the public health crisis.

New Website Launched
To accompany the launch of the third report, Community Service Council has launched a more robust and interactive website with graphs, infographics and tables to help readers easily find and understand the data. Graphs and tables are downloadable and printable at www.tulsaei.org.

Learning Series Announced
In addition to the report and website, the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity and Community Service Council are launching the Equality Indicators Learning Series: Data for Action. The learning series will include community engagement sessions, newsletters, and blog posts. The goal for this series is to have more in-depth community conversations about the themes and indicators, learn about current efforts to address disparities in Tulsa, and equip Tulsans to use the report as an advocacy tool.

The Data for Action Learning Series will launch December 8 at 9 a.m. with an overview of the 2020 Equality Indicators Report. Beginning in January, MORE will focus on each theme for a month: January- Economic Opportunity; February – Education; March – Housing; April- Justice; May-Public Health; June- Services.

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View the full report, get the latest information on the upcoming Data for Action Learning Series, read blog posts and more at: www.tulsaei.org