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Advancing Equity 

The 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 >

Equity Roadmap

Cal Cities is dedicated to supporting city leaders 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. The Cal Cities Equity Roadmap lays out the organization’s planned actions and strategies to support city leaders in advancing equity in their communities. Read more >

Resources for Cities

Cal Cities Learning Opportunities

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 2020December 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.  

Other Resources
  • 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:   
  • 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.    



Becoming your community’s ally: How the city of Hayward continues to move the equity needle by listening and learning

Dec 1, 2021, 08:00 AM by Karina Gonzalez
While Hayward had an anti-discrimination action plan in place since the 1990s, city officials realized five years ago that it was in dire need of updating. Hayward city leaders took immediate action to reassure the community that the city was in fact an ally.

Accountability and education have served as a foundation for the city of Hayward in its efforts to advance equity.

“We have to come at it with a mindset of learning and of not being embarrassed by what we don’t know,” said Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo. “We must be willing to say, ‘I didn’t know that, but what can I do as a city leader to make it better?’”

While Hayward, an East Bay city with roughly 162,000 residents, had an anti-discrimination action plan in place since the 1990s, city officials realized five years ago that it was in dire need of updating. Following the presidential election of 2016 and a dramatic rise in hate speech targeted at minorities, protests erupted across the country. Members of systemically marginalized communities mobilized and protested against hate speech, discrimination, and excessive use of force by law enforcement. City officials saw that fear, mistrust, and uncertainty were beginning to plague its community. Located in the heart of the Bay Area and home to a demographically diverse population, tensions were high.

“City officials recognized that the community needed an outlet to do something in response to what they saw as real concerns coming out of Washington, D.C. at the time,” said McAdoo.

Hayward city leaders took immediate action to reassure the community that the city was in fact an ally. They convened and agreed it was critically important for the city to update the existing 1992 Anti-Discrimination Action Plan to address the most pressing issues the community was facing.

The city appointed a Community Task Force in 2017, which was responsible for addressing community concerns about human and civil rights, as well as developing policy recommendations to address current relevant social challenges.

According to Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday, it was imperative that task force members be diverse and representative of the Hayward community. This was crucial to the task force’s success, as it aimed to take on a holistic approach to analyzing key social issues.

The task force’s job was to carry out research, update the 1992 plan, and bring forward actionable recommendations. The result was the Commitment for an Inclusive, Equitable, Compassionate Community, which was presented to the city council in November 2017.

The commitment was guided by a set of shared values, including civic engagement, compassion, connectedness, and opportunity, and proposed specific actions over two years that focused primarily on dismantling illegal forms of discrimination, fostering accessibility, and enhancing community and police relations. The city council adopted the plan and began implementing its recommendations as part of an ongoing effort to foster an inclusive and equitable community.

Prioritizing community safety and destigmatizing mental health support

Then in 2020, amidst a global pandemic and following the tragic death of George Floyd while in police custody, Hayward residents expressed growing concern over racial inequity in public safety. Again, the city listened and responded by prioritizing communal trust between residents and authorities, which involved analyzing power dynamics and rethinking the police training system.

During the summer of 2020, the Hayward City Council established the Public Safety Community Outreach Project on policing and public safety. This project aims to set the foundation for an inclusive community where all residents feel safe and supported.

As part of this project, the city implemented an eight-week virtual policy innovation workshop on community safety in February 2021. These workshops provide a space for community members and city staff, including city police and representatives of the criminal justice system, to discuss community safety concerns. Together they collaboratively brainstorm, research, and test policy solutions to improve community safety and build public trust.

“A lot of the policy recommendations had to do with providing more mental health support for responding to 911 calls,” said Halliday. “We knew we wanted to not just respond to an acute crisis, but make sure we are following up with our community members and ensure that they are receiving the services they need. It all flows together in our ongoing desire to have an equitable community where people are being treated appropriately and in an equitable manner.”

In May 2021, the city council received a set of recommendations developed by the workshop members and the city is now working to implement nine high-priority projects, including a Mobile Mental Health Response Team known as the Hayward Evaluation and Response Teams (HEART).

HEART is a leading example of the value Hayward city officials place on mental health support. Both Halliday and McAdoo emphasized the intersection of mental health and other social issues, such as homelessness and policing.

Zachariah Oquenda, a policy and public education attorney, was part of the workshop group that proposed HEART. “I was really pleased that the city decided to hold a policy innovation workshop. We benefited from the expertise provided from a diverse group of participants. We had community members, firefighters, police officers, and other city staff all working together to research and discuss various needs and proposals related to public safety.”

Hayward leaders believe that providing holistic mental health services and training, both to residents and to the city’s public safety officers, will help build public trust and reduce police use of force. City officials hope to continue working alongside residents to learn how best to meet their needs and ensure everyone feels included and accounted for, regardless of their identity, financial status, and background.

“I believe the city is moving in the right direction addressing issues of equity and inclusion head-on,” continued Oquenda. “The city should continue its focused, data-driven work to expand opportunities for more community participation to shape public safety policy that affects us all.”

More information about Hayward's approach to advancing equity, including building consciousness and accountability, is available in the December issue of Western City Magazine.