Justice Work at The Vaid Group is a think tank/action lab that develops and builds community interventions using research and data analysis, community engagement, organizing, consultation, convening, network building, policy development, and crafting solutions from practice.  These interventions are dedicated to advancing racial, gender, economic and climate equity and are grounded in partnership with front-line organizations working in the substantive areas in which we focus.

Justice Work is a c3 fiscally sponsored project of the National Center for Civic Innovation, a leading fiscal sponsorship hub at the Fund for the City of New York.

Original Research:

We produce original research, both by collecting new data and analyzing previously unexamined data sets. Our work centers racial, gender, economic and social equity.  It seeks to advance policy change and push movement organizing forward through scholarship, community organizing and engagement, and collaboration to equip advocates and funders with quantitative statistics and qualitative stories. 

Network Building:

Before, during and after the research phase of a project, we are engaged in action – we conduct landscape analyses, consult deeply with front-line organizations and leaders, explore different perspectives on the challenge at hand, do a lot of talking and interacting with those working on the issues we are tackling, and design interventions that strive to addresses the challenges and gaps highlighted through our inquiries.  This has led us to design, develop and manage three effective networks: the National LGBT/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group, The National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network and the Donors of Color Network.

Current and Past Initiatives

The National LGBTQ+ Women*s Community Survey

This ground-breaking initiative is designed as an expansive survey distributed online, in English and Spanish, to understand the lives, key experiences and needs of LGBTQ+ womxn in the United States. This study is designed for people who have identified as womxn at any point on their journeys and want to share their experiences of centering womxn in their sexual, emotional, familial and social lives. We invite lesbian, bi, pansexual, trans, intersex, asexual, and queer womxn who partner with womxn; trans men who want to report on their experience of partnering with womxn when they identified as or were perceived to be girls or womxn; and non-binary people who partner with or have partnered with womxn.

The goal of the initiative is to positively impact the lives of LGBTQ+ womxn, by equiping policy and decision makers in nonprofit, service, advocacy, governmental, and community institutions, with specific information and insights into the lives, experiences, concerns, and challenges facing LGBTQ+ womxn in the US today. Over the next two years, we will conduct the survey, release regional and state-by-state data, and engage communities on findings. A fuller description is forthcoming at a new site in development called www.lgbtqwomensurvey.org.

LGBTQ Poverty Initiative

Research: Since 2015, this initiative's goal has been to increase understanding about poverty in LGBTQ communities and secure action to end poverty. From 2016-2018, we organized a participatory research project conducted by 9 organizations to develop a national poverty policy agenda. Our partners included: Center for American Progress, National LGBTQ Task Force, Transgender Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Whitman Walker Clinic, Trans Women of Color Collective, CUNY Graduate Center Social Justice Sexuality Project, and the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School. The policy agenda was released in May 2018 and can be found on lgbtqpoverty.info.

Action: The National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network was formed in October of 2018 as a member-based coalition. It currently consists of over 100 national, state, and local organizations working in the LGBTQ+, anti- poverty, and anti-hunger movements to increase awareness about and action on LGBTQ+ poverty. The Network meets monthly, maintains an active listserv and engaged sub-groups working on federal and local advocacy, public education and research. The Network is co-coordinated by Johanna Sanders, Director of Policy & Organizing, Justice Work at The Vaid Group, and Tyrone Hanley, Senior Policy Counsel, National Center for Lesbian Rights. More information can be found at lgbtqpoverty.info/go.

Donors of Color Network

Research: This multi-year research initiative resulted in a report entitled, The Apparitional Donor: Understanding and Engaging High Net Worth Donors of Color. This original landscape analysis examined the giving patterns and priorities of high net worth (HNW) people of color. It included a meta-analysis of the research on HNW donors of color and outlined a set of recommendations. An additional report based on 113 interviews with individual HNW BIPOC donors is forthcoming in 2021.

Action: The Donors of Color Network is the first ever cross-racial community of donors of color and movement leaders committed to building the collective power of people of color to achieve racial equity. The Donors of Color Network officially launched with an Inaugural Convening in March of 2019, and is a vibrant community working to build the power of BIPOC leaders and communities, and to advance racial and social equity. More information can be found at www.donorsofcolor.org.

National LGBT/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group

Research: This initiative started as a convening and participatory policy development process in 2013 that produced the ground-breaking report, A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT people and People Living with HIV, authored by Catherine Hanssens, Aisha-Moodie Mills, Andrea Ritchie, Dean Spade and Urvashi Vaid, and published by Columbia Law School Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.

Action: After publication of the report, we organized a new national network, the National LGBT/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group. The Working Group today is a program of Black & Pink and is a network of nearly 50 organizations and individual stakeholders working to reduce the unique harms of the U.S. criminal legal system experienced by LGBTQ+ people, PLHIV or those at risk of acquiring HIV, through research, education, and policy advocacy at the federal level. Recognizing that the vast majority of LGBTQ+ people and PLHIV adversely affected by the criminal legal system are people of color and/or low income, the Working Group is committed to approaching issues of policing, punishment and criminalization through a racial, economic and reproductive justice framework.

Transformational Human Resources Management

Human resources are the core of organizational identity and culture -- they are its talent, the enactment of its operating code, the atmosphere that makes up its culture and the expression and enforcement mechanisms through which an organization can manifest its values. Yet in many instances, human resources as a field of practice remains limited to a formalistic, risk-management framework. Practitioners resort to compliance instead of practicing equity. While the framework of human resources is certainly legally-bound, the reliance and resort to management law firms as arbiters of decisions in critical situations has the effect of limiting the transformational potential of human resource management. This initiative is a strategic thought-partnership with Seattle-based strategist Margherita Vacchiano to articulate a different vision for human resource management that grounds it in a mission to transform the world, transform the practices of organizations of all kinds, and transform the field of HR itself. Over the next two years we will produce discussion papers, hold strategic convenings with nonprofit, HR and business leaders and develop strategies to introduce the concept of transformational human resource management.

Data for Social Justice

Data for Social Justice is a multi-faceted initiative to accelerate change by supporting practitioners in creating and using data to map and analyze racial equity, anti-poverty and LGBTQ issues in key underserved areas and communities.