Are Cities and Counties Ready to Use Racial Equity Tools to Influence Policy?

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Center for Health Law Studies, School of Law, Saint Louis University
Center for Health Law Studies, School of Law, Saint Louis University

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Amid a growing national conversation on equity and social justice, city and county governments are using tools to identify racial and ethnic disparities in their communities. These insights can then inform the development and implementation of laws and policies designed to minimize disparities and maximize positive impacts on racial and ethnic minorities. Nearly 200 city and county governments have adopted tools developed by GARE/Race Forward, Living Cities, PolicyLink and PERE, but no one has yet catalogued whether the adoption of these tools has resulted in changes to laws and policies related to employment, housing, access to health care, and childhood education—key social determinants of health.

Working closely with the tool developers, the research team will identify characteristics of cities and counties that have adopted racial equity tools, as well as their stages of readiness for law and policy change. The team will assess the type(s) of equity tool(s) being used, tool source, duration of tool use, community engagement, focus of law and policy changes, and advocacy strategies for law and policy change. In the second phase of the project, the team will conduct four in-depth case studies on a selected city or county’s stage of readiness to change, adoption process of racial equity tools, and influence of racial equity tool adoption on law and policy changes.

The data collected will be used to 1) develop a comprehensive map and database that describes the city/county, the type(s) of racial equity tool(s) adopted, and the stages of readiness to engage in law and policy change; and 2) an adoption map to delineate where governmental adoption of racial equity tools influenced developments and modifications in laws and policies related to at least one SDOH.