Excerpt from article by David Radcliffe of the Boston Fed staff:

"Racial equity is achieved when one's racial identity has no influence on how one fares in society. As the Working Cities Challenge model has rolled out, we’ve paid increasing attention to the role that race and equity play. Understanding the legacy of race in a particular community helps ground city teams and their plans in the reality of how (and why) cities operate.

The data makes clear that race matters on a host of life and economic well-being measures. For example, in Hartford, 76% of whites believe the city is an excellent or good place to raise children, compared to just 54% of Hispanic and African Americans, according to the 2018 DataHaven Community Wellbeing survey.

Minorities are also underrepresented in local governments around the region. In Lowell, Mass., a city with a 40 percent non-white population, 90 percent of the city’s school district employees and administrators are white. In Cranston, R.I., a city where more than 1 in 4 residents are non-white, only 2% of the city’s workforce are people of color.

The situation many of our teams face is that the local systems they want to improve – everything from schools, to housing, to transportation – were developed during times when policies were designed to exclude people of color. While many of these rules and practices have improved, the legacy of race lives on in visible and invisible ways. All our teams are working to improve local systems and make progress on their “shared result,” a 10-year plan to benefit lower-income people in the community. To do that, it is imperative that community and resident leaders consider the role of race and equity in their planning and doing.


Learning orientation: We gather data by specific racial community, leading to interventions that may be different than the solutions applied to the broader community. We ask questions and test assumptions in the context of the stories of historic racism in a given community, which leads to a nuanced understanding of how decisions are made and more targeted strategies and solutions."