Are Cities and Counties Ready to Use Racial Equity Tools to Influence Policy?

A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Policies for Action Funded Study

Are Cities and Counties Ready to Use Racial Equity Tools to Influence Policy?

Sidney D. Watson, Jane and Bruce Robert Professor, Center for Health Law Studies, SLU School of Law
Ruqaiijah Yearby, Professor, Center for Health Law Studies, SLU School of Law

Policies for Action | Saint Louis University School of Law | Institute for Healing Justice & Equity

About the Study

Amid a growing national conversation on equity and social justice, city and county governments are using tools to identify racial and ethnic disparities in their communities. These insights can then inform the development and implementation of laws and policies designed to minimize disparities and maximize positive impacts on racial and ethnic minorities. Nearly 200 city and county governments have adopted tools developed by GARE/Race Forward, Living Cities, PolicyLink and PERE, but no one has yet catalogued whether the adoption of these tools has resulted in changes to laws and policies related to employment, housing, access to health care, and childhood education—key social determinants of health.

Working closely with the tool developers, the research team will identify characteristics of cities and counties that have adopted racial equity tools, as well as their stages of readiness for law and policy change. The team will assess the type(s) of equity tool(s) being used, tool source, duration of tool use, community engagement, focus of law and policy changes, and advocacy strategies for law and policy change. In the second phase of the project, the team will conduct four in-depth case studies on a selected city or county’s stage of readiness to change, adoption process of racial equity tools, and influence of racial equity tool adoption on law and policy changes.

The data collected will be used to 1) develop a comprehensive map and database that describes the city/county, the type(s) of racial equity tool(s) adopted, and the stages of readiness to engage in law and policy change; and 2) an adoption map to delineate where governmental adoption of racial equity tools influenced developments and modifications in laws and policies related to at least one SDOH.

Funded on December 15, 2018

Report published October 2021

*Support for this research was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Policies for Action program. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.


Stay Connected

Newsletter updates delivered to your email from our Institute.

* indicates required

By clicking “subscribe” you are agreeing to receive IHJE newsletter emails in accordance with our Privacy Policy.