EquityNewOrleans is a citywide initiative of the Office of Mayor Mitch Landrieu funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In partnership with the Foundation for Louisiana, the City of New Orleans sought to identify how city government could begin to understand and address equity in a data-driven, strategic manner. “This is the first time that there has been a formal strategy to practice racial equity in government within the City of New Orleans,” says Judy Reese Morse, Deputy Mayor of Citywide Initiatives. “This is what makes this body of work very powerful.”
“We want to build racial equity into the DNA of government so that it is intentional, strategic, and
analytical” says Morse. The goal of EquityNewOrleans is to institutionalize racial equity in policy
development, program creation and service delivery.”
In acknowledging government’s critical role in reducing racial inequities, the City of New Orleans
developed an inclusive process that focused on two goals:
1. Engaging community residents and other stakeholders about equitable government who
provided critical feedback, which informed the development of the resulting actions.
2. Using a data-driven approach that created a blueprint for structural and systemic change.
In designing their roadmap, the City of New Orleans reviewed best practices from across the country,
and engaged experts in the field. Most importantly, they engaged with stakeholders by holding
community listening sessions, individual resident interviews, and focus groups to fully understand
how people identified disparities in their city. Additionally, they conducted a survey of city employees
to gauge their understanding of equity in practice. “Through this process the City of New Orleans has
developed a strategy that is workable, achievable, and fits for our city” says Morse.
“This strategy provides a foundation to drive City policy in the future, impacting programs and
services, while using data to inform future equity-driven strategies and decision-making” says
Roxanne Franklin, Director of Equity Strategy.
To ensure that racial equity is made a priority, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has tasked senior government
officials and City staff to increase their understanding about the concept of equity, learn why it is
important for government to uphold equity as a value, and to provide learning and training
opportunities focused on equity in practice. Additionally, these specific steps have been taken to
1. Using a racial equity lens in determining its executive budget.
2. Providing training for all senior administration officials and department heads on the use of
racial equity tools for policy and process decision making.
3. Creating staff positions dedicated to providing technical assistance to departments as they
implement racial equity practices in their work.
Deputy Mayor Morse says it best, “Our hope is that we have left a body of work that will direct
meaningful change and sustainable impact, and that other cities across the state will look to replicate
For more information on EquityNewOrleans, or to read their full roadmap, click here.