The purpose of the Boston-based Engagement for Equity Initiative is to help communities and organizations to co-create policies, programs, and practices for racial equity metrowide.
We are organizing a participatory action-research initiative to test both current and emergent ways to promote racial equity through community-organization engagement. More broadly, we are cultivating a community of practice for participants who want to learn and work together to build capabilities, spur innovation, and promote community-organization engagement initiatives at neighborhood and metro levels.
Over the last decade an increasing number of organizations across sectors have started community engagement initiatives to enhance the design and application of policies and programs. But these efforts typically aim for community input, not sustained co-creation. Meanwhile, severe racial inequities persist in metro areas nationwide, and they have improved little since the 1970's.
To achieve racial equity goals, we must considerably strengthen engagement in communities of color, where residents have historically lacked institutional influence. But this civic aspiration presents a collective "capability gap." While there is growing interest in community-organization engagement, and an array of tools available, the work is deeply challenging and we all have much to learn.
We are now reaching out to leaders in communities and organizations as well as issue activists, engagement consultants, researchers, funders, and specialists (in areas such as participatory design, community measures, and civic tech) who want to participate in action-learning activities that can strengthen and scale engagement initiatives for racial equity.
A community of practice on "engagement for equity" can vet what’s working and why; develop tools and methods; and leverage Boston’s distinctive capabilities and resources to promote equity and wellbeing for all. Our vision is to spur progress towards what Martin Luther King Jr. called the "beloved community."