Policy Briefs

We believe that public policy can be a tool for advancing equity and justice. However, we also acknowledge that the public policy making process on most every issue – from land use and zoning to policing, education and voting access – has perpetuated racial inequality in our country whether through malicious intent to exclude communities of color or as the impact of race-blind policy making.

The policy briefs in this book cover a range of ideas for communities: from strengthening worker rights and protections, improving public education, expanding transportation and increasing the supply of affordable housing to supporting small businesses, implementing community benefit agreements and more. The framework outlined below focuses on getting to results, but it’s not sufficient without a racial equity lens that focuses on addressing inequities. In addition to this analysis, we encourage you to add to this framework: examine community engagement practices to ensure broad, equitable and substantive engagement; analyze budgets for unequal or discriminatory funding allocations; and grapple with bias and barriers in institutions and governmental structures that put communities of color at a disadvantage to influence outcomes. Continue reading about our racial equity approach here.

You can download a concise two pager summarizing best practices from our network by clicking the links below. To learn more about our policy work, please contact Tarsi Dunlop (tdunlop@populardemocracy.org).

Shared Prosperity
Equal Justice Under The Law
Sustainable and Livable Cities
Good Government That Serves The Public Interest

Shared Prosperity

In the wealthiest country in the world, we have the means to ensure all of us can live a good, prosperous life. Yet today we are living through the worst inequality since the Gilded Age and a widening racial wealth gap. Our localities can and must play a transformational role in creating more equitable communities, from raising workplace standards to securing good jobs to establishing thriving local economies.

Equal Justice Under the Law

Decades after landmark victories for civil rights and racial justice, one’s possibilities and opportunities in the United States remain heavily impacted by their race and the zip code they grow up in. Mass incarceration, police violence, long-standing disparities in our education and health care systems, and attacks on civil liberties have all escalated in recent years, demonstrating how much progress we have yet to make. Municipal policy based on equity can address this brutal legacy and ensure all residents have the freedom to thrive.

Sustainable and Livable Cities

As climate change alters life on Earth as we know it and our urban areas swell with more and more residents, all localities will have to adapt to protect those communities most at risk. This will require meeting some of the central challenges of our time: how to provide dignified, sustainable homes, education, and transportation for all in a changing climate.

Good Government that Serves the Public Interest

In an era of extreme corporate influence, in which many government institutions are overseen and dismantled by those antagonistic to their very missions, our localities can be beacons of hope. Our cities, school boards, and counties can instill government accountable and responsible to the people, where the urgent issues of our society are tackled and resolved.