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For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The training is part of county’s public policy initiative to address inequities in our communities

ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 15, 2019—More than 45 county leaders attended a two-day training conducted by the Racial Equity Institute (REI) in Wheaton on January 10 and January 11 to proactively understand and address racial inequities in communities throughout the county. REI’s focus is working with community leaders to help develop tools to challenge patterns of power, and grow equity.

“Our population has changed, both in numbers and in diversity—this did not happen overnight. Addressing issues of racial equity is a must, if we seek to ensure the continued economic vitality of our county,” said Council President Nancy Navarro. “This two-day training was an important component of the Council’s commitment to understanding and advancing racial and social equity in government decision-making and is the first step in our work towards the adoption of an equity policy for Montgomery County government.”

On March 13, the Council will hold a press conference with county leaders and kick off a series of community listening sessions to get community input on the racial equity initiative, with a town hall meeting in Silver Spring. Further details will be provided as the date approaches.

At the end of these activities, Council President Navarro will work with her Council colleagues to introduce and enact equity policy legislation this fall. This is important pioneering work. While Montgomery County is known for embracing its diversity, disparities in education, employment opportunities, health care and housing persist across ethnicities, income levels and genders. Racial and linguistic diversity generally compounds these disparities and can exacerbate inequity.

Research by the Urban Institute suggests that a more equitable Montgomery County would have an increased number of Latino, African American and Asian residents with high school degrees, college educations and higher incomes. Research also suggests that increasing equitable outcomes among communities of color stimulates economic growth that benefits communities overall.

This past year, Council President Navarro spearheaded Council Resolution 18-1095, Resolution to Develop an Equity Policy Framework in County Government, which allowed the Council to provide additional fiscal year 2019 operating budget resources for the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) to develop a baseline report describing current disparities in education, employment, housing, health, employment, land use, and other measures of opportunity. Resolution 18-1095 was unanimously adopted on April 24, 2018.

OLO shared their report finding with the Council on September 25, 2018. The report can be viewed here. In that historic meeting, the Council signaled that it will begin to address inequities in our communities in structural ways, and that words would be matched with intentional, data-driven action. The goal of this work is to lift up all communities by breaking down the institutional and racial barriers that inhibit the structural changes that are necessary to foster the collective success of the county.

In addition to the training provided by REI, the County recently became a member of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), which a national network of governments working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. GARE has worked with 127 local and regional government jurisdictions across the U.S. to advance racial equity.

The leaders and staff who participated in the two-day training represented various government agencies and outside organizations all charged with different missions serving county residents. The group included: all nine councilmembers, the county executive, the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), the Montgomery County Board of Education president and the student member of the board, the president and Trustee Board chair of Montgomery College, the executive director and board chair for the Universities at Shady Grove, the Planning Board chair and Montgomery Planning director, the Montgomery Parks director, the chief of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, the chief executive officer of WorkSource Montgomery, representative from the County’s Economic Development Corporation, and Council office public policy staffers. A list of the attendees is attached.

A brief video of Council President Navarro kicking off the training can be viewed here.

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Release ID: 19-014
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926, Juan Jovel 240-777-7931