February 21, 2019

Many jurisdictions are creating offices or personnel dedicated to managing the municipality’s racial equity efforts and coordinating across arms of local government. Cities can make policies to develop this infrastructure or to build racial equity assessment processes into regular government functions. Here are a few examples.


Minneapolis: Race & Equity Division Ordinance

In 2017 the Minneapolis City Council codified previous efforts from the Mayor and City Council by passing an ordinance introduced by Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden to create a permanent Division of Race and Equity within the city coordinator’s office. The intent of this role is to integrate a racial equity framework citywide by working across departments to set and report on goals, training and capacity building, community engagement, racial equity action planning, and the development and collection of key metrics. This ordinance built on work in recent years to create two full-time staff positions dedicated to racial equity work and requires race equity criteria in plans and goal-setting.


Baltimore: Equity Assessment Program

Councilman Brandon Scott shepherded a bill to create an Equity Assessment program that was passed by the Baltimore City Council and signed into law in August 2018. The bill authorizes and charges the city of Baltimore with conducting a racial equity assessment, training for city agencies to conduct equity assessments, designating city staff responsible for conducting this work, and developing and utilizing a set of metrics to assess and review the outcomes and effectiveness of any policies and investments made.

For more analysis, see this CitiesSpeak blog.

  • Local Authority & Intergovernmental Relations
  • Race & Equity

How Baltimore is Advancing Racial Equity: Policy, Practice & Procedure


Austin: Development of Office of Equity

In response to decades of increasing segregation and simultaneous to city council efforts to develop an equity assessment, in 2015 Austin, Texas Mayor Steve Adler initiated the process to develop an Office of Equity using Austin’s preestablished African American, Asian and Hispanic/Latino Quality of Life Commissions to avoid undertaking excessive financial burden. The purpose of the office, which had five full-time employees by 2019, is to provide a racial lens on both function and access within city programs and services for all residents. Another goal includes evaluating the hiring of city staff and confirming adequate representation within government in the majority-minority city.


Oakland: Race & Equity Ordinance

In June 2015 the City of Oakland, Calif. passed an ordinance to establish the Department of Race and Equity within its municipal government. This department, which had two full-time employees by 2019, gives the city a dedicated department and staff to address racial inequities within institutions and systems like education, government, and healthcare. The basic functions of the office include developing strategic plans and tools to help advance the city’s racial equity goals and outcomes, training staff to apply these tools, establishing baseline disparity data and benchmarks, tracking outcomes, and collaborating with community institutions.