ZAP's Investment in Equity
Posted By Salt Lake County ZAP
November 28, 2016
For almost 20 years, Salt Lake County’s Zoo Arts and Parks, or “ZAP” Tax has helped fund community arts programs and neighborhood development projects within Salt Lake County, gathering and distributing millions of dollars each year to invest in its future and the futures of its citizens.
Because everyone in the county collectively pays into the tax, it’s important that everyone in the county have equal access to the programs, projects, and other benefits made available through it. To make sure this is happening, Salt Lake County has recruited a team of eight graduate students studying Public Administration at Brigham Young University to perform a comprehensive equity audit of the tax: an evaluation of those who apply for and receive the grants the tax funds, and those in the community who access the benefits that result from those grants.
Working as part of BYU’s Grantwell Program, the team is headed by Peter Gregory and Hilary Munger, two second-year students specifically chosen for this project by the Grantwell Program’s executive team. Peter has previously consulted for the Walmart Foundation and on Provo City’s “RAP” Tax; his current emphasis of study includes Finance and Management Analysis. Hilary, who is also emphasizing in Management Analysis, has previously worked on a number of program evaluation projects, including a new system that will allow nonprofits and development agencies to assess the success of their work based on the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.
The remaining six members of their team are all specializing in either Local Government, Management Analysis, or Nonprofit Administration, and each brings a unique array of skills and experiences to the table, including time on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., program evaluation, research, government contracting, data analysis, and nonprofit management.
Together, this team of eight individuals hopes to combine survey data, census data, primary research, and data unique to each of the programs that receive ZAP funding to compose a substantive report, focusing on which programs and groups of people in Salt Lake County currently benefit most from ZAP Tax funds and whether or not any inequality exists related to the dispersing of funds over various demographics. Should any such inequalities exist, either among tax fund recipients or the general public, the report will also include research-based recommendations to address these problems moving forward.
Equity audits are on track to become a professional standard amongst all public services ranging from school boards, to hospitals, to entire cities. The County of Salt Lake, and more specifically Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks is on the front edge, and one of the first to place a large emphasis on internal evaluation of equity performance. Salt Lake Zoo, Arts, and Parks understands the importance of evaluation to ensure they are meeting their goals to promote diversity and the interest of minority and underrepresented populations. It agrees with Grantmakers in the Arts who stated:
"All people, their culture, and their art contribute to the meaning and understanding of our humanity and should be honored and celebrated…Social inequities continue to be reflected in the funding practices of private philanthropy and governmental funders in the arts. Therefore, in order to more equitably support African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) communities, arts organizations, and artists, funders should take explicit actions to structurally change funding behaviors and norms." (http://www.giarts.org/racial-equity-arts-philanthropy-statement-purpose)
Ultimately, Salt Lake County hopes to apply the substantive findings of this project in a way that assures the fair and equitable accessibility of ZAP Tax funds and ZAP Tax funded events.
Do you have questions about the project? Contact ZAP staff.