The racial reckoning of 2020 inspired governmentphilanthropy, and private-sector organizations across the nation to confront systemic racism and advance racial equity through their policies and funding priorities. To honor those commitments, many local governments recognized they needed to understand the history of policies and practices that have disadvantaged communities of color in the United States.

As part of the Boosting Upward Mobility Project, the Urban Institute partnered with eight localities to help them identify local conditions that enable or prevent upward mobility and racial equity. With Urban’s technical assistance, two localities, Ramsey County, Minnesota, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, engaged in a mobility action planning process that primed them to embed racial equity into their mobility efforts. We found that by conducting a root cause analysis and building internal knowledge of structural racism, local leaders could more effectively incorporate racial equity into their planning processes and work toward reducing historical harms.

Drawing on our work with Ramsey County and Philadelphia, we outline two actions other policymakers and localities can take to embed racial equity into their planning processes and advance upward mobility for people of color.

  • Conduct a root cause analysis Ramsey County neighbors Hennepin County, where George Floyd was murdered in 2020. This incident and the ensuing regional unrest required local leaders to scale up ongoing efforts to center racial equity in the county’s strategic planning.
  • Build internal knowledge of structural racism and racial equity In Philadelphia, city officials recognized that addressing racial inequities would improve the impact of their upward mobility programs. But to do so, they needed to build more internal knowledge of structural racism and racial equity.

Read the full article about racial equity in mobility planning by Jessica Perez at Urban Institute.