One year after passing its first Racial Equity Plan, the city is making progress

In February 2021, the Boulder City Council passed the city’s first-ever Racial Equity Plan (PDF). The plan guides the city’s efforts to advance racial equity within the organization and the broader community.

Representation, in a democratic government like the City of Boulder’s, is essential to ensuring that decisions reflect the preferences of the whole community. Last year, the city made significant strides in improving the depth of community representation and participation.

Bringing New Voices to the Floor

The Community Connectors in Residence program has provided a vital link to cultural, linguistic and geographic communities, representing Latinx, Nepali, Black or African American, older adult, LGBTQ+, CU students, adults with disabilities, residents of manufactured home communities and low-income community members. Together, they share feedback on barriers to community engagement, surface community issues, and reach a network of more than 1,500 Boulderites who might not otherwise receive important information from the city, nor have the opportunity to participate in city decision-making processes.

Making Government Accessible in Other Languages

For the first time, City Council has created the opportunity for a board and commission to conduct business in multiple languages. This year, the Human Relations Commission will begin holding bilingual meetings to support a new appointee that primarily speaks Spanish.

Work Groups Tackling Inequities

Several projects used the city’s Racial Equity Instrument to evaluate the impact of proposed policies. As a result, the city hosted COVID-19 vaccination clinics in primarily Latinx communities to boost vaccine equity in Boulder. The new Eviction Protection and Rental Assistance Services program used the instrument to boost equity in its data collection and Tenant Advisory Committee Selection processes.

Staff Training Making an Impact

One of the plan’s goals is to create a shared understanding of institutional and structural racism among city staff and volunteers. Since last year, the city has offered three training courses to expand knowledge of government’s role in advancing equity, reduce instances of bias and microaggression and learn how to use the city’s tools to evaluate the equity impact of proposed policies. More than 1,500 city staff and volunteers have participated in at least one of these courses, which help create a shared culture within the organization.

Declarations and Events Boost Visibility of City’s Equity Efforts

Recognizing that the work to advance racial equity is perpetual, the city has sought to elevate this work whenever opportunities arise. Last year, the city funded and partnered with community organizations to recognize several events, including Indigenous People’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The city also worked with community leaders to organize a ceremony to name the city’s municipal building after Penfield Tate II, the city’s first Black mayor. Council also issued 13 declarations to promote diversity, equity and multiculturalism, keeping this important work front-and-center.

The Work Ahead

The city’s efforts to advance racial equity will continue far into the future. In 2022, plans are underway to build on progress and break new ground. Learn about these plans at the April 12 City Council session, where staff will provide a detailed update on the city’s racial equity efforts.