Racial Equity Budgeting Tools

Request: I’m currently working on a research project for City Council on cities/counties/special districts/states that are using a racial equity instrument in their budgeting process.



I’m currently working on a research project for City Council on cities/counties/special districts/states that are using a racial equity instrument in their budgeting process.


Summary of Findings:

Cities part of GARE, and outside of the group, have created Equity Assessment tools or offices to assist them in implementing equitable policies and projects.  Outlined below are some instruments used by cities.


City of Madison

Racial Equity and Social Justice Initiative

  • The RESJI tool is used in the development of city policies, plans, programs, and budgets.
  • It is used to analyze policies through a lens of equity and examine how communities of color and low-income populations will be affected by proposed policies.

Madison lists projects that have used the tool here: https://www.cityofmadison.com/civil-rights/programs/racial-equity-social-justice-initiative/city-projects-using-resji-tools

City of San Antonio

Office of Equity

  • The City of San Antonio’s Office of Equity has four driving goals
    • Advance equity in budgeting, community engagement, and high priority service delivery
    • Build awareness and involvement in the office through transformational community engagement
    • Collaborate with other institutions to achieve San Antonio’s vision of prosperity
    • Improve services for community members submitting discrimination complaints


City of Minneapolis

Strategic and Racial Equity Action Plan

  • A four year plan that, “…embeds racial equity principles into all aspects of the City’s work and defines goals that can be objectively measured and inform resource decisions” (Source).
  • Policy priorities include:
    • “Reducing involuntary displacement in rental housing for black, indigenous and people of color communities”.
    • “Increasing the number of Minneapolis-based businesses owned by black, indigenous and people of color; and increase businesses with black, indigenous and people of color ownership that are still in business after five years”.
    • “Increasing the number of black, indigenous and people of color ages 10 to 24 years living in higher violence areas of Minneapolis who participate in high quality youth programs”.
  • To develop the plan there was an in depth process involving the Mayor, City Council, Department Heads, Staff, and memebers of the City’s Racial Equity Advisory Committee
  • Through Strategic planning retreats and community engagement a plan was developed (Source)



City of Portland                                                                              


  • In 2011 the City of Portland created an Office of Equity and Human Rights, with the vision of achieving racial equity in the community and the mission of ending institutionalized racism in City government, promoting inclusion and full participation of all residents, and partnering with the community to achieve racial equity across Portland;
  • The Portland City Council unanimously passed Resolution 37144 on July 8, 2015 ratifying Citywide Racial Equity Goals and Strategies and directing City bureaus to use available tools to end racial inequities

Budget Equity Assessment Tool

  • Use an asset management approach to achieve more equitable service levels across communities and geographies.
  • Track and report on service levels and investments by community and geography, including expanding the budget mapping process
  • Assess the equity and social impacts of budget requests to ensure programs, projects and other investments to help reduce disparities and promote service level equity, improve participation and support leadership development.
  • Identify whether budget requests advance equity, represent a strategic change to improve efficiency and service levels and/or are needed to provide for basic public welfare, health and/or meet all applicable national and state regulatory standards.


City of Seattle

The Racial Equity Toolkit lays out a process and a set of questions to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of policies, initiatives, programs, and budget issues to address the impacts on racial equity.

It is important to:

  • Apply the toolkit early for alignment with departmental racial equity goals and desired outcomes.
  • Be inclusive. The analysis should be completed by people with different racial perspectives. Step by step. The Racial Equity Analysis is made up of six steps from beginning to completion:
    • Step 1. Set Outcomes. Leadership communicates key community outcomes for racial equity to guide analysis.
    • Step 2. Involve Stakeholders + Analyze Data. Gather information from community and staff on how the issue benefits or burdens the community in terms of racial equity. What does data tell you about potential impacts?
    • Step 3. Determine Benefit and/or Burden. Analyze issue for impacts and alignment with racial equity outcomes.
    • Step 4. Advance Opportunity or Minimize Harm. Develop strategies to create greater racial equity or minimize unintended consequences.
    • Step 5. Evaluate. Raise Racial Awareness. Be Accountable. Track impacts on communities of color overtime. Continue to communicate with and involve stakeholders. Document unresolved issues.
    • Step 6. Report Back. Share information learned from analysis and unresolved issue with Department Leadership and Change Team.



City of Austin

The Equity Assessment Tool leads with race, as it is the primary predictor of access, outcomes, and opportunities for all quality of life indicators. By focusing on racial equity, this tool introduces a framework that can be applied to additional marginalized social identities that intersect with racial identity including age, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability. The Equity Assessment Tool systematically integrates purposeful consideration to ensure budget and planning decisions reduce disparities, promote service level equity, and improve community engagement.

Four Sections of Tool

  1. Departmental Analysis
  2. Budget
  3. Engagement
  4. Alignment (with Council’s six proposed priority outcomes)


You may also be interested in