The federal government has played a role in the establishment of systems and policies that have prevented communities of color from accessing the same resources and services as their white counterparts. The problem can be traced to the federal government’s formation in 1789, and it has led to racially inequitable outcomes in our nation.
Encouraged by President Joseph R. Biden’s historic Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, and drawing from and leveraging the years of expertise and success in working with local, state, and regional government developed within our Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), Race Forward launched the Federal Initiative to Govern for Racial Equity (FIRE) in 2021.
FIRE supports significant advances in racial equity across the federal government by seeking to reshape how the federal government serves and builds alongside community. We offer a systemic perspective that promotes a “whole of government approach” in embedding racial equity across the federal government.
While there is growing work at the federal level in advancing institutional change strategies for racial equity, to create sustained change it is necessary to be intentional about infusing equity and racial justice within every federal agency and department. Every level of the federal government must recognize that “good governance centers racial equity.”
Our Goal and Approach
FIRE aims to support and promote the concept that good governance centers racial equity by providing federal institutions and their employees with learning opportunities, tools, strategic guidance, support frameworks, convening spaces, and facilitation of cross-agency cohorts to assist in normalizing conversations, organizing peers, and operationalizing policies and programs that promote racially equitable outcomes across the federal government.
These activities will help improve the performance of federal government staff as well as public organizations’ service delivery in response to the needs of people of color and low-income communities.
Our training provides solutions-oriented spaces for learning and strategic alignment. Through a mix of extended learning series, deep dive sessions, and introductory webinars, we provide tools, knowledge, and opportunities for agencies and leaders to gain the necessary skills to counter structural racism and steward long-term policy and practices for racial justice.
Our training sessions include:
- Interactive and experiential components. Adult learning styles vary. We use varied forms (including exercises and small group discussions) to share information and ensure learning objectives are met.
- Explicit conversation and facilitation to illuminate the connection between individual, institutional, and structural racism. Our training methodology allows participants to make connections between individual experiences and the broader societal and structural ways in which racism is constructed. We focus on institutional and structural strategies, as those are most effective for leveraging change.
- Strong, expert facilitation. Conversations about race can sometimes be difficult. We have a team of expert facilitators who not only are prepared to lead and guide conversation but also to re-design activities in the moment to ensure participants’ time and experience is maximized.
- Opportunities for applied learning. Racial equity concepts can, at times, be abstract. Our workshops focus on the application of learning in the workplace. Doing is often the best teacher.
Advancing Racial Equity: A Framework for Federal Agencies
Advancing Racial Equity: A Framework for Federal Agencies describes the components of a racial equity approach, and the resource walks practitioners and leaders in the federal government through key actions and challenges they may face as they embark on implementing racial equity strategies.
Assessment of Federal Equity Action Plans
Assessment of Federal Equity Action Plans presents the findings of a review by Race Forward and PolicyLink of thirty Equity Action Plans (EAPS) released by federal agencies and departments in early 2022. This landmark report considers the strengths and areas for improvement in these first-ever federal government EAPs. The report offers recommendations for strengthening the EAPs if there is an opportunity to do so.