Working with the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG) and 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, the cities of Dallas; Oakland, Calif.; Pittsburgh; St. Louis and Tulsa, Okla. have taken significant steps toward addressing inequality in their cities. Each city, working closely with community partners and with input from a wide range of stakeholders, has developed a robust, tailored tool to measure and track its progress toward greater equality or equity, using localized indicators across specific sectors (e.g., economic opportunity, public health). Based on their Equality/Equity Indicators tools, these five cities have now released or are in the process of finalizing their first annual reports. In September, all five cities will present their tools and scores, along with a presentation of three years of data from New York City, at ISLG’s conference on equality.
The Equality/Equity Indicators tools and reports developed by these five cities are based on local data and provide key metrics that leaders and decision makers can use to craft more effective policy for their communities. As each city revisits its metrics annually, local residents and leaders will be able to clearly track its progress toward equality or equity over time citywide and in multiple domains.
The Equality/Equity Indicators framework is a natural extension of the work undertaken by 100RC member cities as they create and implement holistic strategies to build urban resilience. In Tulsa, the inaugural 2018 Equality Indicators Report served as an influential contribution to the city’s recently released Resilient Tulsa Strategy, whose principal focus is on building cohesive communities that are able to overcome deeply rooted racial disparities. In the same vein, in its Resilience Strategy the city of Dallas has integrated strong values of equity and inclusiveness as they relate to the economy, public health, infrastructure, and transportation. For Pittsburgh, the Equity Indicators will serve as an important baseline and evaluation tool for its OnePGH Resilience Strategy, enabling civic leaders to measure and monitor equity and reinforce the city’s commitment to P4 (People, Planet, Place and Performance). The Resilient Oakland playbook will similarly utilize the city’s Equality Indicators framework to evaluate its progress in tackling systemic and structural challenges. Finally, in its Preliminary Resilience Assessment, the city of St. Louis identified equity as the key principle that will underlie its Resilience Strategy, and its Equity Indicators work has ensured a special focus on racial and economic disparities.
“These tools will enable each of these cities to be more transparent about the progress that has been made toward equality and where work remains to be done,” said Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance. “The tools and scores will also help decision makers and community stakeholders alike develop more data-driven policies and programs to address systemic inequities in their cities.”
“Disparity along economic and racial lines is a recurrent theme elevated by a number of North American cities in the 100RC Network,” said Otis Rolley, Managing Director for North America at 100 Resilient Cities. “Dallas, Oakland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Tulsa have shown great leadership in prioritizing equality as a prerequisite to achieving urban resilience, and we continue working with them to uphold such rigorous standards in their resilience work.”
“Dallas is a prosperous community, and we are blessed with the continued prospect of sustained economic growth,” said Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax. “But despite an optimistic outlook, large segments of our community are not thriving. Too many of our residents are confronted every day by challenges to simply exist – homelessness, poverty, social and racial inequity, gun violence, access to quality education. This is Dallas’ true resilience challenge: overcoming the social and economic challenges that deny many of our residents’ social justice and economic well-being for themselves and their families.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said, “The study quantifies what our community already knows: That race matters. Almost every indicator of well-being we looked at shows troubling disparities by race. The Equity Indicators Report is a sobering but important foundation we will use to tackle racial disparities in Oakland – a community that celebrates diversity and inclusion, and can now measure our progress.”
“Ensuring equity for all is one of the city’s greatest priorities, and we are taking a data-driven approach to identify where the inequality is most pronounced and then invest in eliminating it,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. “We’ll be working with the Forbes Funds to use the Equity Indicators report and do independent third-party evaluations to ensure that we and our partners are delivering services effectively and equitably citywide.”
“I think we are now in a strong position to do the work necessary to improve our equity score,” said St. Louis Chief Resilience Officer Patrick Brown. “In City Hall, this report has already changed the conversations we’re having about how to better serve our residents. It’s changed the questions we’re asking. The goal of Equity Indicators is to align the work happening throughout the city and across the region as departments and organizations look at what they can do to contribute toward our goal of racial equity. Together we can start to ask different questions and have different conversations about how to move the needle. Honest and accurate data about equity has to be our backbone if we are to improve the resilience of St. Louis.”
“The Equality Indicators set a baseline for the work we face as a community,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “The issues we aim to address do not have easy solutions, but we are working together as a community, using the data from the Equality Indicators Report and our Resilient Tulsa Strategy to improve the lives of Tulsans and future generations.”
These five cities were selected to participate in this work last year with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. The tools they developed build on the model developed by ISLG to measure equality among diverse groups (e.g., racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, individuals with disabilities) in New York City. Launched in 2015, the New York City tool has now tracked progress on 96 indicators over the past three years.
The City of Dallas examined 72 Equity Indicators for its tool within the areas of economic opportunity, education, housing and neighborhoods, justice and government, public health, and transportation and infrastructure. Transportation and infrastructure was Dallas’ best performing theme with a score of 59 out of 100, while economic opportunity received a score of 28, the lowest of the six themes. Indicators that received the lowest score of 1 include job opportunities, low educational attainment, and overcrowding. The highest scoring of the 72 indicators was the trust in government indicator, which received a score of 93. Other high-scoring indicators include graduation rates (90), city service satisfaction (89), and hospital quality (85).
The Equity Indicators were identified as a strategy within the Resilient Oakland playbook and the Oakland Equity Indicators tool includes 72 indicators across six themes: economy, education, public health, housing, public safety, and neighborhood and civic life. Public safety was the lowest scoring theme with a score of 17.3 out of 100, while neighborhood and civic life was the highest scoring theme with a score of 50.6 out of 100. Several indicators received the lowest possible score of 1, including suspension rates, childhood asthma, and prison incarceration. One indicator, equal access accommodations, received the highest possible score of 100, indicating that the city complies with the minimum requirements for bilingual, public contact position employees.
Following the 2017 release of its OnePGH Resilience Strategy, Pittsburgh’s Equity Indicators analyzed 80 indicators across four domains: health, food and safety; education, workforce development, and entrepreneurship – housing, transportation, infrastructure, and environment; and civic engagement and communications. The lowest-scoring domain was health, food, and safety, which received 45 out of 100; the highest-scoring domain was civic engagement and communications (65 out of 100). Some of the highest-scoring indicators included access to a high-frequency transit network, access to green space, registered voters, and volunteering, each of which received the highest score of 100. Some of the lowest scoring indicators included homicides (1), homelessness (2), and asthma hospitalization rates (16).
The St. Louis Equity Indicators tool is a direct response to one of the calls to action in the Ferguson Commission Report for a racial equity benchmarking process. The tool measures 72 indicators across three themes that reflect the priorities of the Forward Through Ferguson report: Youth at the Center, Opportunity to Thrive, and Justice for All. The Child Wellbeing topic in the Youth at the Center theme received the lowest topic score, meaning that racial disparities are largest in this topic area. The Civic Engagement topic in the Justice for All theme had the highest topic score, meaning that racial disparities are relatively small in this topic area. The lowest scoring indicators were child asthma (1) and vacancy (2), while some of the highest-scoring indicators included high school graduation rates (100) and access to parks (95). It is important to note that while high school graduation rates are equitable for black and white students in St. Louis, rates for all students are very low.
Tulsa’s report focuses on six priority areas: economic opportunity, education, housing, justice, public health, and services. The city worked closely with its community partner, the Community Service Council, to collect and analyze the data across 54 indicators. Of the six areas, public health had the highest score (47) and housing had the lowest (34.33). The lowest-scoring indicators, with a score of 1, included homelessness, overcrowding, and bikeability. Indicators that received a score of 100 were housing choice vouchers and access to public city parks with playgrounds.
About the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance
The Equality Indicators is a project of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG). ISLG is a nonpartisan research and policy institute within The City University of New York (CUNY). The institute’s mission is to work with government and nongovernment organizations to improve systems to produce better results worthy of public investment and trust. We aim to advance data-driven approaches that influence policy and operations and that support work in diverse communities. In short, we help government – and organizations connected to it – do better. We focus on working with cities and states because they are ideal laboratories for developing new approaches to longstanding social problems, and are ripe with opportunities and momentum for real, sustainable change. For more information, please visit equalityindicators.org and islg.cuny.edu.
About 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation
100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each member city who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit: www.100ResilientCities.org.
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, CUNY counts 13 Nobel Prize and 23 MacArthur (“Genius”) grant winners among its alumni. CUNY students, alumni and faculty have garnered scores of other prestigious honors over the years in recognition of historic contributions to the advancement of the sciences, business, the arts and myriad other fields. The University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 275,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.