Advancing EquityThe League of California Cities doesn't just advocate for the common interest of cities. It also helps city officials lead on challenging issues their communities face by providing education and resources that focus on promising strategies and new solutions. In June 2020, the Cal Cities Board of Directors issued a statement committing to the creation of an equitable and just future for all Californians. Cal Cities is dedicated to supporting its members by connecting them to resources and educational opportunities that strengthen their knowledge and capacity to eliminate racial disparities, heal racial divisions, and build more equitable communities. Below, is a list of foundational resources, which will grow as we deepen our knowledge and breadth in this space.
Advancing Equity Community
We are excited to announce the Cal Cities Advancing Equity Community where members can connect with one another to share information and resources. The new tool enables city officials to post information, give feedback, share resources, and interact with other city leaders on diversity, equity, and inclusion within cities. This community is open to all Cal Cities members. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact Meghan McKelvey. Sign up now >
Resources for Cities
Free to watch
- Advancing Racial Equity: An Introduction - Cal Cities and the National League of Cities REAL Department set the stage for the work necessary to expand city leaders' knowledge and capacity to eliminate racial disparities, heal racial divisions, and build more equitable communities. Cal Cities webinar originally offered Aug. 27, 2020.
- Advancing Racial Equity: A Discussion - Cities across the nation are grappling with frustration, outrage, and grief stemming from the effects of systemic racism. Join leadership from the National League of Cities REAL Department and three California city leaders for a discussion on how they are building more equitable and just cities. Keynote panel discussion originally offered at the League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo on Oct. 8, 2020.
Learn from other cities in Western City's magazine
The November 2020, December 2021, and December 2022 issues of Western City magazine highlight efforts to address systemic inequities in city institutions and policies and replace them with systems that are inclusive and fair.
- NLC REAL: The National League of Cities (NLC) Race, Equity, and Leadership (REAL) program was established in the wake of the 2014 unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, to strengthen the capacity to build more equitable communities. The REAL department offers tools and resources that help local elected leaders build safe places where people from all racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds thrive socially, economically, academically, and physically. Please refer to the following reading list:
- Municipal Action Guide: Advancing Racial Equity in Your City compiles six immediate steps for improving outcomes for all residents.
- Municipal Action Guide: Responding to Racial Tension in Your City provides important contextual and tactical information to support your municipality’s efforts to respond effectively.
- Repository of City Racial Equity Policies and Decision includes examples of concrete policy and budgetary changes local elected officials have made to prioritize racial equity in their cities and towns.
- Racial Equity Resolution provides a template and talking points that explain why pursuing equity is good for local government.
- The City Leader’s Compass to the My Brother’s Keeper Landscape offers resources for city leaders working to respond to the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge. This publication highlights a comprehensive set of steps cities can take to tackle disparities, change systems, and improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.
- GARE: The Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) is a national network of government working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. GARE supports jurisdictions that are at the forefront of work to achieve racial equity; develops a “pathway for entry” into racial equity work for new jurisdictions; and builds local and regional collaborations that are inclusive and focused on achieving racial equity.
- Race Forward: Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. The organization conducts original research on pressing racial justice issues ranging from immigration to economic inequality.
- ICMA Race, Equity, and Social Justice: Materials curated by the International City Managers Association (ICMA), along with reports and surveys that describe approaches that have an impact and provide the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others.
- Mayors and Business Leaders Center for Compassionate and Equitable Cities: Resources, including ideas, initiatives, toolkits, and reports, by mayors and for mayors and other city leaders.
Message from League of California Cities Executive Director
Eight minutes and 46 seconds. It’s been a year since we witnessed the senseless death of George Floyd, a father, a son, a brother, and a friend. His brutal death sparked a movement with local leaders, police officers, citizen protesters, and others coming together to stand for the common causes of equity and justice in California and our nation. Collectively, we pledged to harness the unity of the moment to rebuild trust lost and work together for a better tomorrow for all Californians, regardless of the color of their skin, because Mr. Floyd deserved nothing less.
Earlier this year, the justice system honored Mr. Floyd’s life by holding accountable an individual responsible for his death. While the verdict doesn’t erase the pain and suffering of Mr. Floyd’s family or solve the longstanding issues of systemic inequities that exist in our country, it does offer some accountability on the road towards meaningful justice and equitable treatment for all.
Beyond the verdict, there are additional signs of progress. I’m proud of the League of California Cities board, which released a powerful statement in June 2020 committing to doing the hard work to “create an equitable and just future for all Californians” and the local leaders around the state who are putting these words into action adopting resolutions to advance equity, organizing community listening sessions, rolling out trainings, and reimagining public safety.
I’m also proud to lead an organization that is committed to supporting and promoting local efforts to eliminate disparities, heal racial divisions, and build more equitable communities. At Cal Cities, with the full support of our board, we continue to develop and offer multiple resources and trainings for city officials looking to advance equity and root out racism in their communities. In February 2021, the board voted to create an Advancing Equity Advisory Committee to shape and prioritize Cal Cities’ work to support local officials’ efforts to advance equity in their communities. During its April meeting, the board unanimously adopted the Advancing Equity Advisory Committee’s recommendations. Cal Cities staff will now develop and implement the recommendations. Cal Cities' new programming will build on the content that we've delivered over the past year, which includes webinars, conference sessions, and peer-to-peer roundtables dedicated to building equitable communities.
In addition, Western City magazine devoted a special issue to advancing equity in December 2020. Advancing equity will now be an annual themed issue. City officials can access all of these resources on a dedicated Cal Cities webpage.
Our Cal Cities members have done a lot in a year to build more equitable and just communities. Thank each and every one of you for the work you have done and continue to do. All of us at Cal Cities are honored to be your partner on this journey.
I said it a year ago, and it remains true today: “The time to act is now.”
Carolyn M. Coleman
Executive Director and CEO
League of California Cities