A Beginners Guide to Anti-Racist Results Based Accountability (RBA)

Living Cities
3 min readOct 1, 2019

Results Based Accountability (RBA) is a disciplined way of thinking and taking action to improve the lives of all community members. Over the past five years, Living Cities has been using the framework as the backbone for much of our work. We began using RBA in 2015 with The Integration Initiative (TII) Learning Communities, working with partners in sites to apply the framework’s process for improving the effectiveness of programs, policies and services by starting with “ends” (intended results) and working backward towards “means” (strategies and programs).

Later, we began applying a lens based on Anti-racist principles, developed by the Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond. Now, we use this Anti-racist RBA framework across our portfolio in an effort to tie race, stories and impact to all of our efforts. To implement this framework, we have gotten support and guidance from Erika Bernabei, Principal at Equity and Results, LLC and our own, JaNay Queen.

In the video below, Erika introduces the Anti-Racist RBA framework and the importance of embedding racial equity in your work to reframe impact. Implementing RBA across an organization’s processes can be difficult for many reasons, but it is necessary for those who are serious and committed to this work.


Hear Erika speak on why RBA is critical if we want to truly transform our systems toward becoming Anti-racist and what that can mean for your institutions.

In the video, Erika shares some key lessons in this work:

  1. RBA work requires culture change, which can be a long and painful process.

It requires a lot of time and patience to embed the results based accountability framework into your processes. Anti-racist RBA requires that you look inward and understand how your own power, privilege, biases, world view and identity impacts everything that you do, and then having done that personal work use your power, understanding of history, awareness of your blind spots, and ability to identify and interrupt instances of racism to make more equitable decisions in your role. These are the behaviors that lead to systems change. This concept is best captured in the person, role, system framework.

Robin Brule served as our TII Initiative Director in Albuquerque where she leads City Alive, a collective impact initiative focused on supporting people (with an emphasis on entrepreneurs of color) who are growing jobs locally in her region. In the video below, Robin details the journey and tensions she and her team at City Alive underwent and are continuously work through as they implement the RBA framework across their portfolio.


For additional insights on Robin and her teams journey as they implemented RBA, read here.

2. RBA calls for community to be at the center of all work.

Erika also emphasizes the need for this work to be community based and participatory. Philanthropy has historically worked with a top-down approach, often assuming to know the problems communities have and the solutions they need. The RBA framework calls us to center community in all that we do to ensure that those who are most impacted have a seat at the table.

What does that actually look like in practice?

Theo Miller and Ellie Rossiter served as our TII Initiative Directors in San Francisco where they lead a community development and restoration project, Hope SF. Their work is a powerful example of what it looks like to put power and agency back into community hands. In the video below, Theo reflects on the ways in which Hope SF has implemented the RBA framework and what it has meant for their work in San Francisco.


RBA has dramatically changed the way we approach our work and measure results. While the journey can be daunting, this framework can truly transform your organization toward achieving the equitable results you seek. For those committed to racial equity and meaningful change, this framework can guide you there.

For more reflections on our process and learnings as we’ve implemented the RBA framework, click here.

For more on Equity & Results, LLC, click here.



Living Cities

A collaborative of foundations & financial institutions working to close racial gaps, so people in U.S. cities are economically secure & building wealth.