Practices in Equity: Centering Member Voices in LIFT’s Program Design 

Over the past year, LIFT has worked to bring our Equity Statement to life through improving the ways in which we elevate our member’s voices, inside and outside of LIFT. In October, we instituted our Member Voice Compensation Policy to ensures we hold ourselves and our partners accountable to compensating members for sharing their voice for program design, fundraising, and advocacy purposes in the fight for economic justice. In March, we updated our Member Speaker Support practices and tools to hold ourselves accountable to engaging in member-centered, ethical storytelling.

Aditionally, LIFT made a commitment at the start of our fiscal year to strengthen the ways in which we incorporate member voice into our internal program design. LIFT collects feedback from members through a semi-annual member feedback survey that solicits member input on program offerings, quality of service, alignment to parent needs, sense of community, and other questions as needed. This year, we included an option to opt in to participating in opportunities to shape LIFT’s programmatic decisions in a deeper way.

Starting in FY23, LIFT began obtaining direct member feedback through interviews and focus groups on proposed program changes that result from evaluation findings. Our goal is to center members not only in the data collection phase of evaluation but also in shaping LIFT’s decisions on program design. Throughout the year, LIFT members have participated in interviews to inform an analysis of our coaching program’s 2-year timeline, reviews of an internal evaluation of LIFT coaching’s impact on income and educational attainment, and focus groups to contribute to the design of LIFT’s first formal Policy & Advocacy Agenda. All members were compensated for their time and ideas in accordance with LIFT’s Member Voice Compensation Policy.

At LIFT, we recognize that this year of focus is only a step in an ongoing process. As we continue to work and learn in this space, we will continue to refine our practices to ensure they align with our values, and we look forward to hear from others in the space on intentionally and ethically elevating member voice, within our own organizations and beyond.

Lucy Smart is LIFT’s Senior Manager of Economic Mobility & Policy. Lucy is a part of the National Program Team and manages LIFT’s Member Voice program. Lucy is a strong believer that those most impacted by programs and policies should have a seat at the decision-making table.