Cities Form New Racial Equity Network With Private Sector

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan


Connecting state and local government leaders

The commitment has its origins in a 2016 research initiative addressing structural racism in five jurisdictions.

The Racial Equity Here initiative, responsible for helping five cities address specific disparities within their communities, is being spun off into a growing network of 191 cities and private partners that have declared they are committed to ending structural racism.

In 2016, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Austin, Texas; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Louisville, Kentucky; and Philadelphia developed action plans incorporating data, staff training, cross-sector partnerships, and budget planning to implement equity reforms.

Research takeaways from the initial endeavor, led by Living Cities and Government Alliance on Race and Equity, will be distilled for newcomers to the fold.

“The profound outcome gaps we see today between people of color and white people aren’t accidental—they were intentionally created,” said Glenn Harris, Race Forward president, in Tuesday morning’s announcement. “To achieve a stronger and truly multiracial, inclusive democracy, organizations from every sector must now partner to proactively advance racial equity.”

During the earlier effort, Grand Rapids hired its most inclusive police recruit class ever and earmarked $1 million for each of the next five years for community policing, while Albuquerque dropped a question about criminal convictions from its employment application. The city’s W-9 form also tracks local and minority and women-owned businesses for contracting diversity.

Meanwhile, Louisville made it easier for people of color to purchase vacant or abandoned properties as part of neighborhood revitalization.

“Racial Equity Here is about changing the structures and systems that create and perpetuate racial inequity,” said John Powell, the director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. "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.”

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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