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Iowa Department of Human Rights – Data/Status Report

The Iowa Department of Human Rights (DHR) advocates for underserved and underrepresented Iowans by educating individuals, businesses and government entities about the needs, rights, and responsibilities of all Iowans. To effectively advocate for the underserved, recommend policies and programs to empower underrepresented Iowans, and achieve the Department’s mission, the DHR required statewide data to identify the indicators of success for the underserved and underrepresented populations.

SPPG + Essman Research (SPPG + ER) was hired by the Department of Human Rights to compile a comprehensive report that illustrated the various challenges and successes of underrepresented and underserved populations in Iowa, including African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Latinos, Native Americans, People with Disabilities, People who are Deaf, and Women. Our team also provided a framework for how to best report on the specific indicators of success for the underserved and underrepresented populations in Iowa.


The compilation of the Data/Status Report was an extensive year-long project (September 2018 – September 2019), and included 111 interviews (in-person and telephone interviews) with the agency director, DHR commissioners, Community Action Agency Directors, and community leaders throughout the state of Iowa, and a total of 161 in-person interviews with underserved and underrepresented Iowans. The purpose of these interviews was to explore challenges, discuss success stories, and to gather a clear understanding of the range of views present within and among the different populations. Our team traversed the state to meet these community members in libraries, community centers, homeless shelters, colleges, and more to talk about their lives, families, hopes, goals, and struggles. SPPG + ER staff approached each interview with empathy and confidentiality as each person shared vulnerable parts of their lives to help us create a report that was realistic and representative of their experiences.


The Data/Status Report has been used by the Department to assess the changing needs and the current opportunities for the populations they serve, prioritize the work of the Department, identify key partnerships for the Department in serving Iowans, and provide data for the Department’s Commissions to fulfill their roles in recommending policies and programs. The Department will use the framework established in this report to update the information for 2021.

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