"Digital justice provides spaces through which people can investigate community problems, generate solutions, create media and organize together." 
--Detroit Digital Justice Principles
by Our Data Bodies


We believe that the people most impacted by an issue are best positioned to discover the root causes and solutions of that issue. They are the ones with the firsthand experience, social context, insights, and networks that are necessary to fully unearth the whole story behind a deep-rooted problem. This understanding is what galvanized us to create our Community Research Incubator, an annual program that recruits and trains community members in research methodology and data storytelling. The Community Research Incubator is RCRC's flagship program. It truly embodies our core principles. 


Each Community Researcher in this program is given a stipend, mentorship, access to resources, and training to launch their own research project over the course of 24-weeks. The program culminates in a Community Research Expo, which showcases each researcher and their contributions to knowledge and scholarship. All materials that the researchers choose to publish will be also be available here.




Community Researchers can access course materials here.

With that said, we are proud to announce...

that we have recruited nine phenomenal Community Researchers for our inaugural Community Research Incubator cohorts (The Louisville Eviction Lab cohort and the Racial Wealth Gap cohort). This program was designed to train community members, who have been directly impacted by a predetermined structural or social issue, in research methods and data storytelling. Our goal is to embolden, equip, and spotlight community leaders as a means of countering problematic dominant narratives and prioritizing community perspectives in research and information design. As the researchers developed new works we will share that content through this website and from our social media platforms.


Metro United Way has teamed up with the Root Cause Research Center to launch the Racial Wealth Gap Incubator cohort. This project is aimed at advancing the analysis of racial economic inequality and focuses solution making in the socioeconomic reality of impacted community members, in partnership with a financial services industry professional. Metro United Way has invested in this program because they see this as a collaborative opportunity to better understand how the racial wealth gap and economic inequality affect asset development and the economic security of people, and communities of color in Louisville. This cohort will generate root cause data and recommendations that Metro United Way will be able to incorporate into their policy agenda and initiatives in the coming year.


The Root Cause Research Center (RCRC) acknowledges that the dispossession of Black communities through the eviction process are a form of structural and social violence and a continuation of systemic racism in public policy. A tenant’s daily relation to shelter and safety is undermined through rent increases, evictions, law enforcement, landlords, and dilapidated dwellings. Louisville’s eviction rate is the 7th highest in the nation and double the national average. This violence of rent is normalized by blaming the wrongdoing on the dispossessed through criminalizing poverty and houselessness. We see the Louisville Eviction Lab (LEL) as a means for impacted community members to build collective power around counter-mapping and research. LEL will create data resources and provide justice-based and transformative solutions to support the work of housing advocates, as well as grassroots efforts that advocate against racial banishment, displacement, and houselessness. The LEL will take deeper dives into the qualitative and quantitative aspects of evictions. Operationally, our end goal for LEL is to assist LEL community researchers in gaining independence from RCRC as their own research institution. One day LEL will be solely governed and operated by residents impacted by housing injustice.


The Community Research Incubator is a 24-week (6mos) cohort-based program that includes participant stipends, mentorship services, training, research exhibition, as well as participatory data collection, research, and reporting. A minimum of 80% of each incubator will be Community Researchers. Community Researchers are participants who have been strategically recruited to apply based on their lived-experience in relation to a predetermined structural or social issue. Up to 20% of the cohort may be Institutional Incubator Participants (I2P), though most cohorts will have none at all. I2Ps are individuals who may represent a large institution that is interested in partnering with Community Researchers. I2Ps commit to following the guidance and leadership of Community Researchers. During the course of the 24 weeks, Community Researchers are trained and mentored in launching their own research projects within a predetermined topic area. Institutional participants will also receive some training as they engage in this program. The incubator culminates in a Community Research Expo where Community Researchers will share their work, demo projects, and/or solicit funding to accelerate the growth of their work. 


2020’s incubator topic areas include:

  • Housing Justice (This incubator cohort is known as the Louisville Eviction Lab) 

  • Racial Wealth Gap (in partnership with Metro United Way)


Applications are currently closed. Please apply next year!


Download all application information for your records.


Review our policies and code of conduct before applying.


Reach out to us at any time if you have questions.

Incubator Mentorship and Training

RCRC facilitation will help participants to identify and illustrate problems as systems, clarify points of intervention, raise questions and alternatives when considering varying approaches, provide an accountability mechanism that prioritizes and advocates for the participation of impacted individuals in decision-making and implementation strategies, measuring impact, and help to define actionable goals.


The RCRC will provide training in the following areas: Our Data Bodies’ Community Power Tools for Reclaiming Data, Community-based Participatory Research, Abolitionist Planning, counter-mapping, investigative techniques, health and data equity, data collection, research design, advocacy & policy development, and infographic design. RCRC will also track and monitor the incubator for long term evaluation and impact assessment. 


Community Researchers who receive stipends through this program will be required to attend a minimum of 24 research work sessions with RCRC staff. They will also be required to attend all skill labs offered for their cohort. 


Institutional Incubator Participants (I2Ps) & Other Supporting Partners

Representatives from institutions may partner or work with the incubator by doing one or more of the following:

  • Be Our Guest: Attend the Community Research Expo (join our email list to get updates on dates)

  • Donate to RCRC: Support the incubator by donating resources, time, talent, or treasure

  • Donate to the Research: Donate resources, time, talent, or treasure to a specific research project or cohort to help them continue their work 

  • Join the Incubator: Aside from Community Researchers, there will be other incubator participants who are not subject to the same credentialing requirements as the Community Researchers. These participants, who will likely be institutional partners, will be limited to a minority of 20% or less of a topic area cohort. Institutional Incubator Participants (I2Ps), they will defer to the guidance and authority of Community Researchers, they will not receive stipends, and they will be required to attend a minimum of six work sessions which will be determined by the Community Researchers.


Who is Eligible to be a Community Researcher?

Community Researcher eligibility hinges on the following credentials: 

  • Applicants can not be a representative or in leadership of a major institution (i.e. a nonprofit, government entity, news media company, university, etc, that has an operational budget in excess of $150,000 annually)

  • Applicants must either be from a historically and systematically oppressed race, class, or background, AND be connected through lived-experience to their chosen incubator topic area (i.e. housing injustice, racial wealth gap, etc). Please note that applicants interested in applying for the Cooperative Economics topic area DO NOT need to have lived-experience of that topic area.

  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents at the time of application, or individuals granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the time of application (changes in federal policy or law may necessitate that we consider adjustments in eligibility and grant terms); 


Who is Eligible to be an Institutional Incubator Participant (I2P)?

I2Ps eligibility hinges on the following credentials: 

  • Applicants must be nominated by an incubator facilitator or cohort supporting sponsor

  • Applicants must represent or be in leadership of a major institution (i.e. a nonprofit, government entity, news media company, university, etc, that has an operational budget in excess of $150,000 annually)



  • Monday, May 11, 2020 (11:59 p.m. ET) - Deadline for receipt of completed applications. Click here to access the online application (https://forms.gle/YbU5DuVzsmh6HPAo6)


  • May 12-May 19, 2020 - Application Review and Applicant Interviews


  • May 2020 - Notification of awards and incubation period begins


  • Oct 2020/Dec 2020 - Community Research Expo


Evaluation for the Community Research Incubator will have three main components: 1) a systematic method for monitoring progress toward specific collectively identified goals, 2) a logic model that outlines relationships between interventions and outcomes, and 3) two sets of continuous feedback loops that will happen both during and after incubation periods. The first continuous feedback loop will prioritize the comments and concerns of Community Researchers, and the second will prioritize the feedback of external parties--particularly the feedback of other impacted community members that are not stipend incubator participants. 



Direction and technical assistance for this program are provided by RCRC staff and affiliates.  RCRC’s investigative staff are experienced research analysts, data analysts, and community organizers. All staff members who engage in research and data collection also maintain the following certifications:

  • Human Subjects Research certification from the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program)

  • Responsible Conduct of Research certification from CITI Program

  • Financial Conflict of Interest certification from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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