In 2016 a team of St. Louis Park City Council members and city staff participated in a year-long program on advancing racial equity. This program was facilitated by the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) along with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) Center for Social Inclusion (CSI), and provided an introduction to the roles, responsibilities and opportunities for government to advance racial equity.
The city participated with the following goals in mind:
- Gain understanding of racial equity.
- Develop a shared racial equity analysis including definitions.
- Analyze policies and practices from a racial equity perspective.
- Strategize with others on how government can advance racial equity.
So far, the city has:
- Developed a racial equity statement
- Provided training to all city staff on racial equity.
- Begun working on drafting department goals for racial equity.
The city has completed year two with LMC and CSI, along with development of department action plans and continued education and understanding. Work with advancing racial equity is a journey that will continue as part of the city's regular business and service delivery. The City Council is also working with the Human Rights Commission, Multicultural Advisory Committee and other groups on ideas and direction for continued outreach in advancement of race equity.
In January 2018, Alicia Sojourner joined the City of St. Louis Park as its first-ever racial equity coordinator to help the city on its continued journey in advancing racial equity. Sojourner was previously the racial equity consultant manager at the YWCA Minneapolis, and was instrumental in leading that organization to a position of market leader in the diversity, inclusion and equity consulting business.
Sojourner’s experience includes team development, equity toolkits, baseline assessments, diversity and inclusion workshops, identity-driven leadership for leaders of color/LGBTQ, consultancy and executive coaching. Sojourner has been awarded the Beat the Odds Award through Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota, Young Alaka'i Award for working with marginalized youth, and winner of Inspiring Women by the WNBA Minnesota Lynx.
Mayor Jake Spano said, "As we conduct city business and make decisions that affect our community, we want to hear from the full range of people who represent our community. To make that happen, it is important that we are deliberate and intentional about reaching out for input from people who were historically not part of the decision-making process. The result of St. Louis Park’s work on racial equity will result in more effective delivery of city services to all of our neighborhoods and make our community a more equitable, inclusive and welcoming place to call home."
City of St. Louis Park Racial Equity Statement
If the practices, programs and services of the city are not fair, inclusive and equitable to all, the potential of the community and those it serves is diminished. From an elected, appointed and staffing perspective, our organization does not mirror the community. We will strive for racial equity by building understanding of the issues in our organization and intentionally and proactively take measures that break down barriers to a just and inclusive community.
Moving forward together as a city: St. Louis Park's racial equity brochure (PDF)
Educational opportunities for the community
St. Louis Park Community Education hosted "Introduction to Courageous Conversations about Race" with instructor Luis Versailles. Sessions were held March 10 and March 15. For more information, visit St. Louis Park Community Education.
City Council reports
March 20, 2017, Study Session: The City Council is asked to discuss next steps related to advancing race equity.
November 14, 2016, Study Session: To continue discussion and provide information on work and communication related to our year-long participation in the Advancing Racial Equity and Transforming Government program with the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) and League of Minnesota Cities (LMC).
July 25, 2016, Study Session: To provide information and have a discussion regarding our year-long participation in the Advancing Racial Equity and Transforming Government program with the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) and League of Minnesota Cities (LMC).
Other city documents
St. Louis Park recognized for commitment to achieving racial equity (City news release, July 5, 2017)
City council adopts resolution supporting all members of the St. Louis Park community (City news release, April 21, 2017)
Mayor Jake Spano discusses racial equity at State of the City (YouTube, March 23, 2017)
A baseline analysis of the state of racial equity in St. Louis Park (PDF, March 2016)
Racial equity overview (PowerPoint, July 2016)
In the news
Racial equity coordinator seeks to change the way St. Louis Park does business (St. Louis Park Sun Sailor, Feb. 1, 2018)
City government in St. Louis Park sets racial equity plan (St. Louis Park magazine, June 2017)
Message Matters: Inclusive Communications in a Diverse World (Minnesota Cities Magazine, LMC, March-April 2017)
Building Racial Equity in Cities (Minnesota Cities Magazine, LMC, May 2016)
Government Working Towards Racial Equity (LMC, Handout from the 2017 Leadership Conference for Experienced Officials)
Focus on Race Equity: A City's Role (LMC, Presentation from the 2017 Leadership Conference for Experienced Officials)