Office on African American Affairs

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Health and Racial Equity Accelerator

Milwaukee County is committed to addressing health and racial disparities in our community. Our One County, One Vision strategic plan guides departments and offices in achieving racial equity and becoming the healthiest county in Wisconsin.

Equity Accelerator Overview and Purpose

One of Milwaukee County's strategic goals is to "apply a racial equity lens to all decisions." Through the work of a cross-departmental strategy team with the support of the Office of Equity, Milwaukee County determined that applying a racial equity lens requires:

  1. Communicating what racial equity means: the just and fair inclusion of people of color in decision-making. 
  2. Understanding the relationship between power and racism and applying core concepts (i.e., fairness, justice, and inclusion) to drive change. 
  3. Making a personal commitment to learning and unlearning, and embracing discomfort to challenge personal biases and prejudices. 
  4. Creating a culture and practices that center the lives and lived experiences of people of color in decision-making (budget, programs, policies). 

Milwaukee County's Health and Racial Equity Accelerator Toolkit (Equity Accelerator) is a hub of resources that strives to make these equity practices tangible. Whether you are a Milwaukee County employee, systems leader from the public and private sectors, or community leader, you can find resources here to drive forward Milwaukee County's vision of race and health equity. 

The Equity Accelerator is a self-serve resource everyone can explore and use. The Milwaukee County Office of Equity (OOE) offers expertise via technical assistance and support to these various audiences. To learn more about our services and support, contact us via the OOE email or phone at (414) 278-7979.


Resources

The following sections are organized by the ways you may use the equity accelerator's resources. Your goals guide the way you navigate the content. 

Increase Your Confidence & Build Your Vocabulary

These words and phrases are ones that Milwaukee County has identified as central to strategic plan work. The content here emerged through the work of the strategy team, whose work was to launch the County ability to "applying a racial equity lens in all we do." The definitions match those used by many others working across Milwaukee County as part of One County, One Vision.

Foundational Terms

  • Race: A social construct that categorizes people by color and physical or cultural characteristics. Over time has evolved to center whiteness in a global society.
  • Racism: The system and hierarchy of racialized power, privilege and prejudice-based decision-making, based on the construct of “race,” that favors white people over people of color.
  • Domains [where race-based biases appear]: Structural, Institutional, Interpersonal and Internalized.
  • Racial Equity: The just and fair inclusion of people of color in a society where all people can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential – both a process and an outcome (Inspired by the definition from PolicyLink). For Milwaukee County, this is accomplished by acknowledging and eliminating past and current barriers and addressing the unique needs of each community while creating access for all.

Equity vs. Equality

  • Equity: Fairness with special regard to how certain groups have been impacted by policy, disinvestment, and decision-making.
  • Equality: Sameness without regard to who benefits and who is burdened by decision-making.

Core Concepts

  • Fairness: Doing what’s right and making sure people have what they need to thrive.
  • Justice: Righting wrongs and mitigating future hurt, harm and danger.
  • Inclusion: Assuring the values, perspectives and ideas of diverse people are represented in decision-making.

In addition to the key terms above, check out this Glossary of Terms, compiled by The Office of Equity for Milwaukee County's Equitable Policy Assessment project. 

Plan Your Work & Pitch Your Ideas Well

Resources in this section will help you to develop and test plans in real ways. Before pitching ideas in your department, rely on the resources here to build alignment with best practices.

OOE's Equity Impact Planner (EIP)

  • Use this interactive questionnaire to generate custom recommendations to enhance equity in your project or program. This self-serve tool identifies significant areas of strength in your work and where to get additional support.
  • Allow approximately 20 minutes to complete. Some recommendations are general and applicable to everyone, while others are only available to Milwaukee County personnel.
  • The Office of Equity maintains this tool.

Milwaukee County Health and Equity Framework

  • Ensure your work addresses the Institutional Practices and Power to Make Change aspects on the image to generate the most lasting and crucial impact.
  • This framework is maintained by the Office of Strategy, Budget, and Performance (SBP).

Milwaukee County Diversity and Equity Maturity Model and accompanying Benchmark Guide

  • Use this resource to help your work grow stronger in its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programming. These resources provide examples of DEI programming at different stages to spark ideas for taking your work to the next level.
  • This model is maintained by the Department of Human Resources (HR) and was developed in conjunction with strategy teams and the County's DEI Council.

OOE's Community Engagement Impact Planner (CEIP - pronounced See'-ihp)

  • Coming Soon!

OOE's Technical Assistance Service

  • Coming Soon!
  • Submit a request to receive technical support from a qualified professional. 
  • Open to Milwaukee County personnel as well as system leaders and resident-based leaders.

Look for Ideas & Expand Your County Connections

Work is underway across the Milwaukee County organization to improve policies, practices, and processes so that the county's initiatives and services address racial and health equity disparities while improving the quality of life for all residents. This section offers insights into that work and invites you to connect with those whose work interests you. It is not a comprehensive list.

Milwaukee County Departmental Strategic Plans and Dashboards

  • Links to individual department strategic plans - Coming soon!
  • Review these to understand how each department is positioning its work from now to 2027 in service to achieving health and racial equity. 
  • The Office of Strategy, Budget, and Performance maintains this access. The departmental plans demonstrate the first unified strategic planning process in multiple decades, envisioned and led by County Executive David Crowley.

Milwaukee County Racial Equity Budget Tool (REBT)

  • Review how Milwaukee County prompts departments to align their budgets with the county's vision. Learn how Milwaukee County departments align resources to achieve health and racial equity.
  • The Office of Strategy, Budget, and Performance maintains this tool.

Milwaukee County Parks Equity Index

  • Learn how a weighted score is created for Milwaukee County parks based on demographics, park service level radius, and equity data. The tool is updated annually to determine Parks' internal resource allocations.
  • The Milwaukee County Parks Department maintains this tool.

Milwaukee County Economic Inclusion - Dashboard and accompanying internal processes

  • Explore work that tracks and shares demographic data around the subset of Milwaukee County contractors who work with the Office of Economic Inclusion (OEI). In addition to the dashboard data, internal processes have been evaluated and updated to increase the accessibility of County contracts and work.
  • The Milwaukee County Office of Economic Inclusion maintains this dashboard.

Bridge Your Career Expertise & Integrate Equity

We all have an important role in promoting health and racial equity. Integrating equity-based frameworks and best practices into our work is key to advancing Milwaukee County’s strategic plan. This section will help you find innovative ways to improve the county, including challenging social norms in your field.

GARE Advancing Racial Equity: A framework for federal agencies 

  • Use this framework to align with Milwaukee County's approach to developing and evolving as an organization that addresses the well-documented racial and health disparities within the county.
  • This framework was developed by the Government Alliance on Racial Equity (GARE), a non-profit membership organization that supports governmental jurisdictions in this work.

GARE Network Portal

  • Connect with public sector employees nationwide to explore and address the lasting effects of government's inequitable policies.
  • Open to Milwaukee County personnel. Register using your milwaukeecountywi.gov email and select "Milwaukee County" as the jurisdiction. Contact us with any questions or for a brief orientation to get started.
  • The Office of Equity maintains GARE membership on behalf of Milwaukee County.

Racial Equity: Getting to Results from the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (racialequityalliance.org)

  • Develop and strengthen your metrics and evaluation plans to ensure the impact matches your intent.
  • GARE maintains this resource.

Community Resilience Imperative (CRI) Case Study and Executive Summary

  • Explore the impact of deep community engagement and power-sharing through forming the CRI during Milwaukee County's COVID-19 response. This approach required everyone involved to examine their professional socializations, decision-making processes and more. Use this to spark your thinking about how your field does its work.
  • The Office of Equity prepared this case study with support from the Department of Health and Human Services, which was instrumental in the COVID-19 response.

Top 5 TakeawaysTop 5 Takeaways to Maximize Impact

Increase your successes while integrating equity practices with these tips:

1. Continue learning and normalizing talking about racial and health inequities.

  • Starting with introductions to research and best practices is key. Embrace ongoing learning with curiosity.
  • Be part of Milwaukee County Changemakers. Lead the way by discussing racial and health disparities throughout your work. Help others find the connections you see.

2. Incorporate Equity Impact Assessments into all work, whether large or small-scale projects.

3. Take action on policies, practices, and internal work processes.

  • Immediately update internal policies, practices, processes and behaviors based on equity insights when they arise.
  • Recognize this is an ongoing need -- not something that is done once and forever completed.

4. Engage communities and stakeholders.

  • Consider whose voices are part of the work and recognize the ineffectiveness of not directly involving those most deeply affected.
  • Learn the ways of approaching this that don't create extra hurdles in project planning and implementation

5. Collect and analyze disaggregated data.

  • Be wary of data that is not segmented into demographic groups, including race, gender, age, and more. This can conceal significant insights that would advance your work's impact.
  • Increase your partnerships with data and equity professionals who can support and mentor in this specialized area.

Contact Us and Request Technical Assistance

 

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