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Racial equity a priority from the start for the Working Cities Challenge Connecticut Racial equity a priority from the start for the Working Cities Challenge Connecticut

Independent evaluator says WCC CT showed “targeted” focus on racial equity Independent evaluator says WCC CT showed “targeted” focus on racial equity

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December 23, 2021

From their start in 2018, the teams selected to be part of the Working Cities Challenge Connecticut made sure every facet of their work incorporated racial equity – the systematic fair treatment of all people, resulting in fair opportunities and outcomes for all.

The majority of residents in the five Connecticut Working Cities are residents of color. So, it was essential to build racial equity work into the initiative’s systems from the very beginning.

Three years later, an independent evaluator says the WCC CT teams have shown a “more explicit and targeted” focus on racial equity, compared to early rounds of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s multi-state community development initiative.

According to the report by Mt. Auburn Associates, the Danbury and East Hartford teams offer two prominent examples of how WCC CT’s focus on racial equity helped change local systems.

Danbury

Early in their work, The DanburyWORKS team recognized there was a long history of “broken promises, biases, and discrimination” in the city that needed to be repaired, according to the Mt. Auburn evaluation. The teams decided to use community engagement events and local partnerships with city government to create new forums where all residents were welcomed and valued.

East Hartford

East Hartford CONNects used several strategies to support racial equity, including: engaging with residents of color through community outreach; using its partnership with the Boston Fed to work with stakeholders in local government to change local systems; and creating a list of small, Black-owned firms to help increase their business.

 

Overall, teams whose racial equity strategies succeeded had these similarities:

  • A captive and engaged community that was motivated to do the work
  • Humility and bravery to engage in difficult conversations
  • Buy-in from key leaders
  • A focus on supporting resident leaders of color

Learn more about Connecticut’s Working Cities by downloading the evaluation by Mt. Auburn Associates from this page.