Data-Driven Investments

The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) has a results-driven investment strategy modeled after Results Based Accountability™ (RBA). RBA is a simple, common-sense framework that starts with ends (the desired result you are trying to achieve) and works backward toward means (the strategies for getting there). RBA helps HSD move from ideas to action and ensure that the department's work is making a real difference in people's lives.

RBA looks at:

  • Population accountability through population indicators which assess well-being of all individuals in Seattle, and
  • Performance accountability through performance measures which assess well-being of individuals and families directly served by our programs or funding.

Based on the RBA framework, performance measures should include:

  • Quantity measures of how much service is being provided
  • Quality measures of how well a service is being provided
  • Impact measures of who is better off due to the services provided

RBA guides our work, however the Theory of Change (TOC)  is the tool that pulls it all together. The TOC is an outline that shows the link between population accountability, desired results, ways for achieving the desired results, and performance measures. View an early presentation of how this theory of change was developed in our department.

Notably, the TOC highlights disparity data and specifies racial equity goals to address these disparities—this approach is rooted in the City's Race and Social Justice Initiative. In 2018, as directed by Ordinance 125474, HSD also began identifying gender disparity data and including gender equity goals in our TOC.

HSD is committed to making sure our investments—supported by data—advance our city toward the racial equity goal that people of color do not experience disparities in their ability to succeed. We seek to fund those community-based providers and nonprofit organizations that demonstrate a proven ability to effectively serve populations with the greatest disparities.

The table below lists the desired results we want to achieve and the indicators we are tracking that would indicate successes in each of our six investment areas:

HSD Investment AreaWhat We Want to AchieveHow We Know
Preparing Youth for Success All youth in Seattle successfully transition to adulthood.
  • # arrest/incident referrals and filings for youth and young adults ages 10-17
  • % of youth with on-time high school graduation
  • % of youth who are either in school or working
  • % of third graders who are meeting reading standards
  • % of youth connected to school or their community
Supporting Affordability and Livability All people living in Seattle are able to meet their basic needs.
  • % of people experiencing food insecurity
  • % of people living in poverty
Addressing Homelessness All people living in Seattle are housed.
  • # of people living unsheltered
  • % of people paying more than 30% of their income towards housing
Promoting Public Health All people living in Seattle experience moderate to optimum health conditions.
  • % of uninsured adults 18-64
  • % of people with an unmet health need due to cost
Supporting Safe Communities, Safe Lives All people living in Seattle are free from violence.
  • % of experience of sexual violence
  • % of youth dating violence
Promoting Healthy Aging All older adults experience stable health and are able to age in place.
  • % of older adults reporting good or excellent health
  • % of older adults experiencing chronic disease