The Local Government Equity Clinic was developed jointly by the School of Data Science and the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. The pilot program leveraged the expertise and resources of both organizations in alignment with shared goals around data for the public good and equipping communities with tools to promote good governance, equity, and resiliency.
Launched in the fall of 2021, the Local Government Equity Clinic welcomed 17 participants from 16 localities across the Commonwealth who met online monthly to grapple with nuanced concepts and experiment with new ideas while learning together with peers. They covered common challenges in assessing how different groups may be affected by local government actions and decisions as well as the role of local government in facilitating equity in community outcomes.
The cohort heard from a variety of speakers who have been DEI pioneers in their own localities, including: Nikuyah Walker, first Black female mayor of Charlottesville; Darlene Flynn, executive director of Oakland’s Department of Race and Equity; and Jonathan Butler, senior vice president of community development for the Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity.
Work sessions were also held on a variety of topics. They ranged from examining equity profiles using demographic and economic trends, to the application and development of equity impact assessment tools that could be used on projects, policies, and programs. One session also featured a screening of Race: The Power of an Illusion, an award-winning documentary series by Larry Adelman.
“The Local Government Equity Clinic is more than just having a conversation. Sometimes it can be hard to transform mission statements into action. Our purpose is to better understand what it means to ‘apply an equity lens’ in practice and to increase confidence in articulating that process to other people.”
Siri Russell, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
School of Data Science
The next Equity Clinic will run from September 1, 2021 - May 19, 2022 (every other Friday; the first session is on a Thursday.)
Ideal candidates who will get the most of this experience are local government practitioners:
- with an interest in equity who have not already had a significant amount of training in diversity, equity, and inclusion
- who want to leverage equity to better serve their communities and expand their personal/professional network of local government professionals similarly invested in building equitable communities
- who want to promote equity but do not yet have the competency or comfort level to operationalize equity in local government
Please note: Priority is given to smaller and mid-size localities who tend to have fewer resources. Human capital, funding, knowledge, and tools are all necessary to develop equitable organizations and communities, which is why the Equity Clinic helps advance this important work free of charge.
Program runs from Sept. 1, 2022 - May 19, 2023
Application deadline is August 8, 2022.
Equity Clinics are free of charge.
The Equity Clinic meets twice a month: one session features a guest speaker and the other is a work session that builds off the speaker session. Sessions include movies, readings, presentations by subject matter experts, and lots of robust discussion.
There will be homework assignments in between meetings and participants are required to complete an equity assessment project in order to receive credit for the clinic. Please note that attendance in a minimum of 75% of meetings is required.
There is no charge for attending an equity clinic.
The Equity Clinic meets every other Friday. The first and last meetings are full day in-person programs; the remaining programs are virtual and run from 9-10:30 am.
- 9/1 – full day in-person session (note: this is a Thursday)
- 9/16, 9/30, 10/14, 10/28, 11/11, 12/2, 12/16, 1/13, 1/27, 2/10, 2/24, 3/10, 3/24, 4/7, 4/21, 5/5 – virtual sessions from 9-10:30
- 5/19 – full day in-person session: Equity assessment project presentations and graduation celebration
Unit 1: Foundations
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion definition and application
- The role of local government in diversity, equity, and inclusion
Unit 2: Tools for Change
- Understanding equity profiles
- Undertaking equity impact assessments
- Bringing your team/organization along
Unit 3: Applications in local government
- Public Works
- Land Use
- Public Safety
- Community Engagement
- Other Special Topics
- Final (data based) Project
“The cohort opened my eyes to a lot of different things. DEI is about equity for all, inclusion for all. The program challenged me to look through a different lens and taught me how to start conversations when appropriate or think of other ways to engage people.”
former Social Services Director, Fredericksburg
Attendee at the inaugural equity clinic
“We had some great speakers who gave excellent advice on how to get the work started in the community. These were folks from across the country who were trailblazers in their respective communities. I will be circling back to their advice as we start our own work in Blacksburg.”
Housing and Neighborhood Services Manager, Blacksburg
Attendee at the inaugural equity clinic