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Racial Equity

Closing the gaps so that race does not predict one’s success, while also improving outcomes for all. To close the gaps, we focus on communities of color to support those unjustly burdened by racial inequity.   Focusing on equity so that everyone is valued, respected and heard offers many benefits. The City of Boulder is committed to leading with our values to address changing employee perceptions and behaviors first, and then rippling outward, extending the impact into the community.

As part of the City of Boulder’s Racial Equity Work, city staff have drafted a Racial Equity Plan Outline pdf, shaped by significant and valuable community input. The city’s Racial Equity Plan is a living road map that will guide the City of Boulder government through the process of prioritizing goals, specifying details, and assigning resources to achieve meaningful change. 

Stigma and Discrimination Related to COVID-19

A person’s ethnicity, language or association with a country or region is not a risk factor for the coronavirus. Health officials have also emphasized that concern about COVID-19 is not a reason to deny care to a patient. Any discrimination incident that may be motivated by another person’s race, color, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity is considered a Human Rights Violation.

The City of Boulder has long committed to protecting the health, safety, dignity and human rights of all members of our community and of working to create an equitable and socially just place for all regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender or immigration status.

On March 24, 2020, City Council made a  declaration pdf.declaration encouraging community members to work together to support those maintaining the health of our city residents and businesses, ensure continuity of government and focus on equity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Any community member that sees, hears or is a victim of discrimination in any form is asked to take few minutes and let us know. All information collected will be used to better inform future education and advocacy.

To make a report in English and in En Espanol

The Office of Human Rights will continue to investigation reports of discrimination when applicable.

Why Start with Race?

The creation and perpetuation of racial inequities is embedded into government at all levels. Initially focusing on racial equity provides the opportunity to introduce a framework, tools and resources that can also be applied to other marginalized groups based on gender, sexual orientation, ability, class, and age, among others.

How we got here

The City of Boulder has an important role to play in welcoming, supporting and serving people of diverse backgrounds in our community and in government processes. While we have done valuable equity work in the past, including the creation of a diversity policy two decades ago, an inclusivity assessment conducted in 2017 showed us that our impact has been limited. Input from community members of color who bravely shared their perceptions and lived experiences made it clear we have significant work to do. Through shared learning with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) we developed an understanding to the role institutional racism has played in perpetuating current racial inequities and developed a vision to advance racial equity.  

Illustration showing the difference between equality and equity

Where we are now  

The city is building organizational capacity and partnering with other institutions and communities to create and adapt internal infrastructure and communication pieces through creation of a racial equity outline. The city’s draft racial equity outline to be released in early 2020, stems from the city’s recent work with the GARE. Much of the plan will focus on steps the city organization must take to eliminate systemic and institutional racism in its policies and practices. There are also several components that will involve partnerships with community groups, organizations and individuals committed to ending racism in Boulder. The outline has already been informed by significant and valuable community input. The city drew from the findings of the 2017 Inclusivity Perceptions Assessment; from the courageous personal stories shared more recently by community members of color in sessions hosted by the Human Relations Commission and City Council; from frequent conversations with organizations that work with less connected communities; and from its participation in the yearly Diversity Summit at the University of Colorado Boulder. The city will be seeking feedback about whether we have identified the right types of actions in the proposed racial equity plan outline. Community members will be given an opportunity to comment on the draft, point out missing elements and help prioritize specific work items.

Current Focus Areas

  • Host staff lunch and learns about race that are open to all city staff to assist in gaining comfort around talking about race.
  • Citywide bias and microaggression training (anticipating mandatory staff training beginning April 2020)  
  • Advancing Racial Equity: The Role of Government available for new council members, all city staff; mandatory for new employees and  supervisors in 2020. 
  • Pilot 1.5‐day workshop with HR entitled Race: Let’s Talk About It.
  • Implement Racial Equity Instrument across departments.  
  • Create a racial equity assessment tool for departments to better understand where to apply a racial equity lens and instrument to  programs, policies and budget decisions. 
  • Share inventory of existing equity efforts occurring across the city to share across the organization, align resources, build capacity, and  inform the racial equity plan. 
  • Develop Community Engagement Plan for Racial Equity Plan.  
  • Release Racial Equity focus areas and strategies and begin community engagement process to ensure alignment with equity concerns  already expressed by community.  
  • Draft council resolution supporting advancing racial equity. 


Accomplishments to Date

  • Advancing Racial Equity: The Role of Government (119 participants)
  • Using a Racial Equity Tool (56 City Staff) 
  • Communicating for Racial Equity and Creating a Racial Equity Plan (52 City Staff)  
  • GARE Member Confernece in Albuquerque (11 City Staff)  
  • Train‐the‐Trainer Advancing Racial Equity: The Role of Government (5 City Staff) 
  • Train-the-Trainer Using a Racial Equity Tool (5 City Staff)
  • Piloted Bias Grants Training for Health Equity Fund and Human Services Fund Advisory Committee
  • Released a request for proposal for citywide bias and microaggression training and selected a vendor.
  • Applied Racial Equity Tool to 3 Implicit Bias Areas—Workforce, Procurement and Community Engagement.
  • Developed draft Racial Equity Tool for City of Boulder and transitioned name to Racial Equity Instrument, which will be applied to  programs, policies and budget decisions.
  • Developed training and piloted Racial Equity Instrument for City of Boulder.
  • Created internal resource page for city staff with available tools and resources for understanding advancing racial equity in government. 
  • Launched employee resource—central location for data sources when staff use the Racial Equity Instrument. 
  • Inventoried all city plans relating to racial equity to assist in forming Racial Equity Plan.
  • Inventoried existing equity efforts across the city to share across the organization, align resources, build capacity and inform the racial  equity plan. 
  • Researched council resolutions, policies and commitments from other GARE communities. 
  • Drafted areas of focus for Racial Equity Plan. 
  • Recruited for Core Team 2.0 – to increase staff learning and capacity for advancing racial equity.
  • Shared findings of internal implicit bias areas to impacted departments.