Frequently Asked Questions


RACE COUNTS is an initiative launched by Catalyst California, USC PERE, PICO California and California CALLS that includes a comprehensive online tool ranking all 58 counties by seven issue areas critical to California’s future to paint a comprehensive picture of racial disparity in California. The initiative also includes a launch report and quarterly issue reports.


Why is RACE COUNTS needed?

As California’s racial makeup and needs have completely transformed over the past 40 years, many of our public institutions and policies remain stuck in the past. RACE COUNTS provides the data necessary to provide community organizations with the resources they need to frame these conversations and advance much needed improvements in our public safety, economy, health and governance.

Who created RACE COUNTS?

RACE COUNTS was created by Catalyst California in partnership with California Calls, PICO California and USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity. In addition, the initiative was informed by input from more than 80 organizations across the state. Additional statewide partners include Alliance of Californians for Community Engagement, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, Chrissie M. Castro & Associates, Free Our Dreams, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote and PolicyLink. For a full list of partners, please visit

Who is funding RACE COUNTS?

Race Counts was made possible by support from: The California Wellness Foundation, The California Endowment, Rosenberg Foundation, and Sierra Health Foundation.

How is RACE COUNTS different from other measures?

RACE COUNTS paints a more complete picture of racial equity in California than has ever been available because of the 3D analysis of performance, disparity and impact: performance is how well people are doing; disparity is how well racial groups are doing compared to each other; impact is how many people are affected.

Interpreting the Data

What is our methodology?

We leverage all three dimensions — performance, disparity, impact — to tell the real story of racial disparity in California. The mix of performance, disparity and impact goes beyond current analysis in the field. We can, for the first time, quantify racial disparity, allowing us to say one county is more racially disparate than another county for an indicator, issue area, or overall. For almost two years, we worked with people on ground and did literature review to focus and inform our indicator list. We calculated new indicators like elected representation rate, teacher diversity and for several indicators made data available by race for the first time. We included a comprehensive list of racial groups including White, Black, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and multiracial populations. We also analyzed data in less populous counties to create a broader view. It’s rare, and we believe important, to have this many issue areas covered in one report along with an interactive tool ( by county and race and with a focus on disparity. For more information about RACE COUNTS data and methods, visit our RACE COUNTS GitHub repository.

What is our ranking methodology?

To get a comprehensive assessment of how different counties vary, we calculated z-scores, which measure deviation from the statewide mean, for each of the indicators we studied. By averaging together all of these z-scores by issue area, and then for all indicators to obtain a composite index, we arrived at a metric that shows how much better or worse a particular county is doing compared to all other counties in California.

What does performance mean?

Performance measures outcomes or how well all people in a given county are doing. For example, what is the average graduation rate?

How is impact measured?

Impact is how many people are affected and is determined by population. For example, how many people live in a county where graduation rates are high, but Latinos don’t graduate as often as other racial groups?

What is a key indicator, and how was this list determined?

Key indicators are measures that indicate specific performance and disparity in the context of the larger issue area. For example,  3rd grade math proficiency is an indicator of education. To develop a comprehensive list of these measures, we talked to more than 80 partners across the state to identify the seven issue areas and over 40 key indicators critical to California’s future.

How do I cite Race Counts?

To cite Race Counts, please follow the below format:

Catalyst California; RACE COUNTS,, 2022.

Why is certain data missing for some racial groups and not others?

Data for certain racial groups was not available at the time that this research was compiled. For example, the category “Asian American” is extraordinarily diverse, including groups as disparate as the Japanese-Americans, Hmong communities, Filipinos and more. Advocates have long pushed for federal and state agencies to disaggregate the data they collect for Asian Americans by ethnicity or national original, this research reinforces the urgency of these demands.

Similarly, as Native Americans do not identify as a racial group, in order to provide as accurate a representation as possible for California’s Native populations, we worked with a Native American consultant who conducted focus groups across the state active in the issue areas examined in the RACE COUNTS data analysis.

How often will the data be updated?

Data are updated annually.

What are the different ways to view the data?

Users can view a single composite scatterplot that measures disparity across all issue areas in all counties across the state. The scatterplot also filters down to any individual issue area, indicator, or region.

Users can view a tabulated version of the scatterplot data with the rankings table or a geospatial version with the map.

Each indicator has dedicated bar charts by state or county that are broken down by race. These can be found on any ‘Place’ or relevant ‘Issues’ page (accessed via menu at the top of the page).

Finally, the data can be viewed through the lens of a particular racial group: Asian, Black, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, and White. Each page will highlight how the data for that race compares to others, as well as to the overall or average rate.

What do the colors on the scatterplots, tables, and maps indicate?

These visuals throughout RACE COUNTS are color-coded to reflect performance (or outcomes) and disparity. The bubbles represent counties and the size of the bubbles represent population/impact:

Purple means there are some gains to build upon. This means counties are moving in the right direction but still need work to grow and sustain people of color, especially in the face of looming threats.

Orange means those counties have better outcomes for some but are highly disparate – leaving people of color behind.

Yellow means all people have poor outcomes.

Red means all people have poor outcomes, but there are still large racial disparities.

How are the sizes of the circles on the scatterplots determined?

Circle size is determined by population size and shows impact.

Close X