Racial Equity Here is our new initiative designed to tackle structural racism in U.S. cities.

People of color in U.S. cities disproportionately and historically lack access to opportunities – from education to employment – and many of the issues tied to racial inequality are within the power of city government to change. This face represents a tremendous opportunity that we must grasp, here and now.

Today, Living Cities is launching Racial Equity Here, an initiative that will support five U.S. cities committed to improving racial equity and advancing opportunity for all. Living Cities will work with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a project of the Center for Social Inclusion and the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, to provide technical support and coaching to the first cohort of cities – Albuquerque, Austin, Grand Rapids, Louisville and Philadelphia – as they analyze how their operations impact people of color and devise actionable solutions.

Racial Equity Here resulted from a Living Cities task force, convened in response to Freddie Gray’s death, which brought together cross-sector leaders from our member institutions to create a new vehicle for action against the still-present effects of structural racism in U.S. cities.

Through Racial Equity Here, the cities will complete a racial equity assessment of their core government operations with an intentional focus on opportunity youth – adults and youth of color aged 16 to 24, who are dis-proportionally out of school or work.

Beyond the city-led initiatives, Racial Equity Here will focus on changing systems and shifting the national dialogue around racial equity.

From the inception of our country, government at the local, regional, state and federal level has played a role in creating and maintaining racial inequity. By understanding how municipal operations affect people of color and reproduce inequities, governments can begin to address them in transformative ways.

We look forward to sharing what we are learning through this new initiative. You can join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #RacialEquityHere.