PHILADELPHIA – Building on existing efforts to dismantle structural racism, the City of Philadelphia today announced its commitment to the Racial Equity Here initiative in partnership with local and national organizations across the country, including Race Forward, Living Cities, the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley, and nearly two hundred organizations across the country.

Racial Equity Here is a unique, cross-sector collaboration, led jointly by the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) (a part of the new Race Forward) and Living Cities, a philanthropic collaborative focused on racial and economic justice.

To date, nearly 200 groups have committed to create more equitable communities and workplaces through learning about structural racism, using racial equity tools and plans to guide action that improves outcomes for people of color, and partnering across sectors to align efforts and accelerate results.

“The City of Philadelphia is committed to advancing racial equity and inclusion across our city,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Closing opportunity and achievement gaps is not always a quick, linear process; but rather, an intentional, ongoing effort that requires a focused commitment to change. My administration has implemented various initiatives to ensure that diversity remains a priority throughout City departments, that access to high-quality education is delivered on an equitable basis, and that our economic growth is inclusive of all Philadelphians. The Racial Equity Here commitment is one of many pathways that will help our city move this important work forward.”

“In recent years, racial inequity in America’s cities, businesses and even coffee shops has made national headlines, but that attention has yet to result in lasting systemic change,” said Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities. “No single organization can move the needle on racial equity on its own. Racial Equity Here is building a critical mass of partners across industries and sectors that together can create dramatically better outcomes for people of color in America.”

This growing movement was born in the Racial Equity Here initiative, launched by Living Cities and GARE in 2016, which already has helped five cities evaluate their municipal operations to better address racial disparities. The City of Philadelphia’s work under the Racial Equity Here initiative has helped to activate shared understanding around racial equity concepts, develop internal partnerships to define and implement a racial equity action plan, and begin engagement of external community stakeholders to better improve equitable outcomes in the City’s population.  Through this initiative, Philadelphia has already made significant strides to become a city where all communities equitably share in the city’s resources.

Key outcomes, policies and initiatives so far include:

  • The Racial Equity Team held eight trainings from GARE with over 150 members of administration and departmental leadership. The trainings served to build the capacity of City leaders to integrate explicit consideration of racial equity in decisions. The Racial Equity Team also recently held its first training from GARE centered on workforce equity with forty members of external provider organizations, community organizations and other stakeholders. The training served to build external engagement, partnership and alignment around the City’s recently launched workforce development strategy.


  • The Department of Licenses & Inspections and Philly 311 partnered on a Racial Equity Action Team to disaggregate non-emergency residential service complaints made in calendar year 2016 to determine whether disparities were indicated in the City’s response times to those requests. Disparities were indicated in response times to housing and abandoned building complaints, resulting in policy recommendations to include community composition data on race, crime, and poverty, in addition to geography or population density, in the formula to assign and allocate inspector workload to complaints.


  • The Department of Public Health and the Mayor’s Office partnered on a Racial Equity Action Team to launch the Get Healthy Philly Summer Youth Tobacco Survey Program, which involved using REH funds to employ nine youth surveyors to increase community input on the design and implementation of health policies aimed at decreasing tobacco use, particularly among minority youth. The Strawberry Mansion CDC also partnered on the Team project.


  • The Office of Workforce Development and the Mayor’s Office have partnered to embed a racial equity lens within a recently launched citywide workforce strategy, Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine, to help residents build the skills, credentials and competencies they need to access jobs in growing sectors of the economy through a career pathway approach. The City as Model Employer initiative, which is part of the larger citywide workforce strategy, is focused on equipping the municipal government workforce with an equity lens to help identify institutional systemic barriers to civil service positions, and develop strategies to target specific structural and institutional challenges to equitable hiring and promotion processes.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion are priorities for the City of Philadelphia, and Racial Equity Here focuses on structural racial inequities which is timely and necessary,” said Nolan Atkinson, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, City of Philadelphia. “When linked with communities of color, not only do we create better outcomes within those communities, we make all of Philadelphia stronger and more connected.”

Learn more about Racial Equity Here and commit to action at