City Of Akron’s Racial Equity Taskforce Releases Quarter Three Subcommittee Report
Akron, Ohio, November 24, 2021—Last June, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Council President Margo Sommerville declared racism as a public health crisis with the support of Akron City Council. That declaration led to the creation of a Racial Equity and Social Justice (RESJ) Taskforce assembled for the purpose of developing a pro-equity strategic plan responsive to this crisis.
The RESJ Taskforce consists of an Executive Committee, with additional Subcommittees on specific topics. The Executive Committee of the RESJ Taskforce, appointed by the Mayor and Council President and approved by City Council, includes 29 community members from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. The Taskforce’s mission is to build public trust in the community by formulating meaningful recommendations of policy change to create a more racially equitable, socially just community and to bridge the racial wealth divide in the City of Akron. These recommendations will be outlined in a five-year Strategic Plan, which will be delivered to the Mayor, City Council, and the community by Quarter 1 of 2022.
The City’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce recently released their third quarterly report. The Quarter Three report summarizes the work of the six subcommittees from August through October 2021. The Quarter One and Quarter Two reports were released in April and July, respectively.
The Quarter 3 subcommittee reports develop a framework of recommendations utilizing best practices from other cities. Bishop Joey Johnson, Taskforce Chair, advised the group to be thoughtful in their recommendations and to follow an outline citing literature reviews with potential policy recommendations for the Taskforce Executive Committee to review.
“We are quickly coming to a culmination of months of hard work, executed by the dedicated members of the Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce. We are eager to take a holistic view of all subcommittee recommendations so that we can make thorough and thoughtful recommendations to Mayor Horrigan by the end of the year,” said Bishop Johnson.
The Taskforce recently convened to review the third of the Taskforce’s quarterly subcommittee reports. You can watch the full meeting here. Updates from the subcommittees include:
The Communications Subcommittee's Quarter Three Report focuses on finalizing the plans for a communications framework and establishing the Racial Equity Guiding Coalition. The Subcommittee also renews its support of the equity guidelines provided by the Government Alliance on Race and Equity and recommends Akron's continued participation in GARE.
Criminal Justice Subcommittee
The Criminal Justice Subcommittee’s Quarter Three Report finalizes its recommendations in several areas of the City of Akron Police Department. The Subcommittee’s final recommendations focus on police accountability mechanisms, a police auditor and civilian oversight board, body-worn camera legislation and policy; police training, hiring and promotion practices, and community policing.
The Education Subcommittee’s Quarter Three Report centers on recommendations for policy changes that will narrow the opportunity and achievement gaps which exist between students of color and White students and limit the effects of poverty on educational opportunity. The areas in which the Subcommittee has made recommendations includes student access, student-centered learning and closing the achievement gap, pandemic recovery, cultural responsiveness, and fiscal transparency.
Equitable Workforce Development Subcommittee
The Equitable Workforce Development Subcommittee's Quarter Three Report focuses on 4 critical areas of needed change. These include: changing the culture of the City's Human Resources Department and Procurement functions to promote equity across all areas of employment and contracting, creating and implementing workforce development initiatives for minority candidates and employees, driving change in how minority-owned businesses are developed, engaged, and hired to provide services and products that the City purchases, and finally developing a welcoming attitude towards data collection, transparency, and accountability at all levels of employment and contracting.
The Health Subcommittee’s Quarter Three Report finalizes policy recommendations focused on addressing the root causes of inequities that exist in practices, policies and organizational structures of public health and healthcare systems. The Subcommittee’s Diversity Scorecard was so well done that the Executive Committee will consider adopting the Diversity Scorecard format for each Subcommittee. The rest of the Subcommittee’s recommendations focus on how the City can work to improve health care for its employees and citizens as a whole.
In the Housing Subcommittee’s Quarter Three Report, the Subcommittee finalizes recommendations which will increase the number of inclusive, healthy neighborhoods in Akron, and which will increase fair access to opportunities for economic advancement and mobility. The recommendations contained in this quarter three report include action items housed within three strategies: invest in neighborhoods that have experienced a history of disinvestment and inequity, provide opportunities for people of color to live in more integrated communities, and promote homeownership opportunities to decrease the wealth gap.
“I want to thank the members of the Taskforce and the subcommittees for their continued dedication to researching, identifying, and customizing solutions that will work for Akron and our institutions,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “My administration, as well as the community at large, can use these recommendations as a roadmap for generational change in our community.”
The Taskforce will select the top recommendations from each subcommittee to compile as the Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce final recommendations, which will be forwarded to the Mayor and City Council in Quarter One of 2022.
For further information, contact: Carla Davis RESJ Taskforce Communications Subcommittee Chair Phone: 330-643-9090 E-mail: SocialJustice@akronohio.gov