Recognizing the need to collectively tackle growing racial disparities, organizations from the public, private and philanthropic sectors today announced the Racial Equity Here commitment to dismantle structural racism in America. These leading institutions invite others to join them in taking clear steps to prioritize racial equity in their work.
Racial Equity Here is a collaboration led jointly by Living Cities, a philanthropic collaborative focused on racial and economic justice, and the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a joint project of Race Forward and the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. GARE is a national network of local governments working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all.
“In recent years, racial inequity in America’s cities, businesses and even coffee shops has made national headlines, but that attention has yet to result in lasting systemic change,” said Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities. “No single organization can move the needle on racial equity on its own. Racial Equity Here is building a critical mass of partners across industries and sectors that together can create dramatically better outcomes for people of color in America.”
Organizations making this commitment believe that racial disparities in America are too widespread for any one city, sector, organization or program to tackle alone. While individual efforts like training can be impactful, Racial Equity Here aims to fight structural racism by transforming policies, practices and norms within our institutions and organizations at a national scale.
“The profound outcome gaps we see today between people of color and white people aren’t accidental — they were intentionally created. To achieve a stronger and truly multiracial, inclusive democracy, organizations from every sector must now partner to proactively advance racial equity. Through Racial Equity Here: Commit to Action, we are distilling years of research and practice into clear, easily accessible tools that organizations can start using today,” remarked Glenn Harris, president of Race Forward.
To date, over 190 groups have committed to create more equitable communities and workplaces by learning about structural racism, using racial equity tools to guide action that closes gaps and improves outcomes for all, and partnering across sectors to align efforts and accelerate results.
This growing movement has been accelerated through the Racial Equity Here initiative, launched by Living Cities and GARE in 2016, which helped five cities transform their municipal operations to better address racial disparities. Through this initiative, Albuquerque, Austin, Grand Rapids, Louisville and Philadelphia are changing how they do business. They have established racial equity visions and action plans; are training staff on government’s responsibility to create racial equity; are using data and racial equity tools to guide policy, program and budget decisions; and are forming cross-sector teams as part of their broader commitment to improve outcomes for all residents.
“Racial Equity Here is about changing the structures and systems that create and perpetuate racial inequity,” said john a. powell, Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and Professor of Law, UC Berkeley. “We are committed to expanding the "we” in we the people, building bridges across sectors and states to amplify and accelerate our multiracial movement for belonging and racial justice.“
Key outcomes, policies and initiatives stemming from Racial Equity Here include:
Albuquerque no longer asks about criminal convictions on its initial application for employment. It also has modified the W-9 form to give preference to local, minority owned, and women owned companies who bid for city work.
Austin’s Office of Equity is collaborating with the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department and the Public Health Department to revamp procurement practices and increase the accessibility of city funds to organizations doing meaningful work to address inequity.
Grand Rapids recently hired its most inclusive police recruit class ever and convened a series of listening sessions to strengthen community and police relations. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and city commissioners also earmarked $1 million annually for the next five years to strengthen community and police relations. Louisville is revising its process for selling vacant or abandoned properties to make it easier for local residents of color to acquire the properties, with the goal of revitalizing neighborhoods.
Philadelphia evaluated disparities in city response times to its 311 complaints about housing quality and recommended policy updates to better support fair delivery and quality of service to all communities. The city also launched the Department of Public Health’s "Get Healthy Philly Summer Youth Tobacco Survey Program” to help tackle racial health disparities related to tobacco usage among youth of color.
“The City of Philadelphia is committed to advancing racial equity and inclusion across our city. Closing opportunity and achievement gaps is not always a quick, linear process; but rather, an intentional, ongoing effort that requires a focused commitment to change,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “My administration has implemented various initiatives to ensure that diversity remains a priority throughout City departments, that access to high-quality education is delivered on an equitable basis, and that our economic growth is inclusive of all Philadelphians. The Racial Equity Here commitment is one of many pathways that will help our city move this important work forward.”
Learn more about the Racial Equity Here commitment and join the movement at https://racialequityhere.org/.
About Living Cities For over 25 years, Living Cities has harnessed the collective power of 18 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. Its investments, research, networks and convenings catalyze fresh thinking and combine support for innovative, local approaches with real-time sharing of learning to accelerate adoption in more places. Additional information can be found at www.livingcities.org.
About Race Forward Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation united with Center for Social Inclusion in 2017 to become the new Race Forward. Founded in 1981, Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. Founded in 2002, CSI catalyzes community, government, and other institutions to dismantle structural racial inequity and create equitable outcomes for all.
The new Race Forward is home to the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a national network of government working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. Race Forward publishes the daily news site Colorlines and presents Facing Race, the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice.