More and more, Minnesota city officials are asking the question: how can we better address disparate effects of service delivery on different racial and ethnic groups?
Tragic interactions between law enforcement and people of color have commanded the spotlight in conversations about race. But less visible municipal services, like human resources, parks, public works, and code enforcement, also present opportunities to improve outcomes for people of color. Race equity has become an important element of policy analysis at the local government level.
Race equity work plan
In response to a call from members to provide leadership on this subject, the LMC Board of Directors has developed a work plan to begin evaluating race equity within the League. The work plan also directs continued development of resources that will be relevant and available to all member cities regardless of size, location, or demographic composition. Addressing race equity in a non-partisan manner is consistent with our organization’s mission to promote excellence in local government.
The foundational work for this initiative is the League’s participation in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a national program led by the Center for Social Inclusion. GARE’s cohort-based approach focuses on helping local governments build capacity to analyze and address policies, practices, and procedures in a way that improves outcomes for people of color.
In the cohort model, teams from local governments participate in a year-long training program with the goal of developing a race equity action plan to implement in the following year. The League and GARE partnered to launch the first cohort of cities in 2016. Due to the strong interest, the partnership grew to include a 2017 introductory cohort as well as an advanced cohort for 2016 teams working on implementing their race equity action plans. New introductory and implementation cohorts formed for 2018 as well.
For cities that are not yet engaged in race equity conversations, the League is working to develop resources related to changing demographics and creating welcoming communities.