The Local Government Equity Clinic is a collaboration of the School of Data Science and the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. The program leverages 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.
The Local Government Equity Clinic has graduated two cohorts of participants from 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.
Work sessions were 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.
This year's cohort will be open to applicants nationwide. In addition to the live online sessions, there will be required asynchronous assignments, which will include viewing part of an award-winning documentary series (Race: The Power of an Illusion by Larry Adelman), reading articles, and reflecting on how this work can be operationalized in one’s own organization.
“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 Equity Clinic will run virtually every other Friday starting September 29 and ending December 15. The cost for attending varies depending on organization size (see all dates and the cost for attending the clinic below).
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 operates on a sliding scale.
The Equity Clinic meets twice a month (6 sessions total). Sessions include movies, readings, and lots of robust discussion.
There will be asynchronous assignments in between meetings, and participants are required to complete an equity project in order to receive credit for the clinic. Please note that attendance in a minimum of 75% of meetings is required.
Members of the Virginia Institute of Government will receive a 10% discount. If additional financial aid is required, fiscal stress will be taken into consideration for those within the Commonwealth. Participants from outside of Virginia will need to provide additional information to determine the level of assistance that is needed.
The cost for attending the equity clinic varies depending on organization size:
- $750 for organizational budgets under $750,000
- $1,000 for organizational budgets above $750,000 and up to $2,000,000
- $1,500 for organizational budgets of $2,000,000 and up
The Equity Clinic meets every other Friday, and meetings run from 9:00-10:30 am. The class will meet on the following dates:
- September 29
- October 13
- October 27
- November 17
- December 1
- December 15
Unit 1: Foundations
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in local government
- Considering structures and the role of local government in diversity, equity, and inclusion
Unit 2: Tools for Change
- Theory of Change, creating change in your organization
- Introduction to project and equitable thinking
- Change management tools
- Crafting a narrative
- Equitable data analysis
Unit 3: Applications in local government
- Introduction to equity impact assessments
- Methodology, metrics and disparate impacts
- BYO Equity assessment and final project discussion
- 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