Race Forward Announces Federal Initiative to Govern for Racial Equity


Maya Boddie
[email protected]  


New York, New York, (Sept. 1, 2021) — Race Forward, a leading national racial justice organization, announced the launch of The Federal Initiative to Govern for Racial Equity.  The program, a partnership with PolicyLink, is in direct response to President Biden’s Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government and will provide strategic support, learning opportunities, frameworks, and tools for change through ongoing dialogue with federal agencies. The goal of the program is to create sustainable change for racial equity in federal government structure, policy and practice.

After a year where a global health pandemic, economic turmoil, and uprisings as a result of police violence, all disproportionately impacted communities of color, the Executive Order recognized both the “unbearable costs of systemic racism,” and that “our Nation deserves an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.”

“We are proud to partner with PolicyLink on this important work,” stated Glenn Harris, President of Race Forward and Publisher of Colorlines, who helped establish the first racial equity program in local government in Seattle decades ago. “This mandate from President Biden for a whole-of-government approach toward racial equity is a critical step in advancing a multiracial democracy that realizes our highest ideals.”

Federal agencies have begun the early stages of this monumental work and are assessing their state of equity. Additionally, the White House has published its first “Study to Identify Methods to Assess Equity.” Given the expressed commitment of the Administration and the critical need to advance this mission, Race Forward’s Federal Initiative to Govern for Racial Equity program will support this work drawing from the wealth of experience developed within our Government Alliance on Race and Equity, a member driven network consisting of close to 400 jurisdictions and agencies that have been building a practice of racial equity in government, some for almost two decades.

"The focus on advancing equity is not a short-term trend nor is it the work of tomorrow, but instead, this is the work of right now,” stated Carlton Eley, who will head the program. “In the last decade, more municipal and regional government institutions have launched efforts to advance racial equity and have hired equity officers. We are encouraged by the initial responses by federal agencies which reflects the pent-up demand for racial justice.” Eley — who served as Regional Equity Initiative Manager for the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Chair of the Social Equity Task Force of the American Planning Association, an environmental justice subject area expert within the Environmental Protection Agency from 1998 to 2018, and participant in the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowship in Public Policy – is a recognized leader and expert in equitable and sustainable development.

As part of the launch, over the course of 10-12 weeks Race Forward and PolicyLink will build on the racial equity efforts of three to five agencies and/or major programs within agencies. This program is expected to create opportunities for other agencies and departments to participate in shared learning and understanding about racial equity policies and practices. Participating agencies will be selected in September.


About Race Forward

Race Forward catalyzes movement building for racial justice. In partnership with communities, organizations, and sectors, we bring systemic analysis and innovative approaches to complex race issues to build strategies and help people take effective action to advance racial justice in our policies, institutions, and culture.


About PolicyLink

PolicyLink is a national research and action institute advancing racial and economic equity by Lifting Up What Works®. For more information, visit www.policylink.org.