Equity team strives to improve outcomes for all residents
Back in February 2019, the City of Shakopee enrolled in a cohort of small Minnesota cities to learn strategies to advance racial equity. Hosted by the League of Minnesota Cities, this cohort gathered every-other month in Redwood Falls to learn the history of racial inequality in the U.S. Cities like Monticello and Pipestone joined the Shakopee team, each offering its own unique voices and challenges.
Using a method developed by the Government Alliance on Racial Equity (GARE), the group discussed ways that local governments can increase equity. The cohort studied strategies to reduce biases within city government and to reach out to populations that may be left out of our decision-making processes.
The city has taken a unique approach to this venture. We invited the Shakopee School District to participate, as well. Several key staff members from the school district made the trip out to Redwood Falls to participate in the conversation. This partnership has allowed us to identify areas in which our shared knowledge can advance equity.
While the cohort focused on reducing racial inequities, the Shakopee team will use the methods learned to increase equity for all residents. The single largest determining factor in a person’s success in life is race. Across nearly every metric, outcomes for people of color are worse than whites. However, the systems that are failing people of color in our communities are also failing our poor, disabled and otherwise disadvantaged neighbors. When we close the racial gap, we advance equity for all people.
At Feb. 4 City Council meeting, the equity team presented the its community mission statement:
All people throughout Shakopee will live well. Shakopee will set the standard for excellence in public services, inclusive decision-making processes and equitable treatment in the community regardless of race, sex, creed, orientation or any other status
With the support of the council, the team has developed a three-pronged strategy to work towards equity:
- Develop internal capacity
- Build a support network
- Develop strategies to reach underserved demographics
The equity team views this as an extension of the city’s mission, vision and values. The city is dedicated to provide high-quality services that are essential to maintaining a safe and sustainable community. When voices in the community are left out of the discussion, we aren’t doing our job fully. The work of this team will help ensure we all have a say in how Shakopee is run.