The metropolitan Minneapolis-St. Paul region has some of the largest disparities along racial and ethnic lines among similar regions.
In response to this reality, The Metropolitan Council, which is the regional governing authority and metropolitan planning organization for Minneapolis-St. Paul, most formally initiated its racial equity efforts in the recent 30-year regional vision document, Thrive MSP 2040. In this report, the Met Council prioritizes equity as 1 of 5 core outcomes, offering a clear definition of equity for the region along with several strategies outlining the Council’s role in promoting it.
With this commitment to equity in place, the Met Council has since transitioned to overseeing and tracking progress on these goals. To operationalize the effort, Council staff are in the process of developing relevant indicators and conducting baseline data analysis to help measure and thus meet equity goals.
In addition to publicly prioritizing equity, the agency has invested in its own capacity by establishing a supportive internal infrastructure. The authority organized its internal operations to advance equity goals across race, ethnicity, income and ability by forming teams and an advisory committee to guide and implement internal and external changes. To begin, the Council created an equity implementation team to monitor the Thrive MSP 2040 equity goals and to ensure that the Council’s employees, departments and divisions have resources, tools and information to advance equity within the Council and throughout the region. Consisting of about 40 government staff from across the Council, the group is designed to come together to assess progress, to serve as a conduit for recommendations, and to assess how the Council can effectively advance equity.
To further embed equity within government operations, Met Council leadership also created change teams in each of the agency’s 5 divisions. As each department grapples with different issues and policy questions, the change teams help each department survey current issues and recommend internal changes. Change teams are made up of division staff from all levels and report to their division’s director.
In addition to the above, the Council created a new Equity Implementation Unit of 3 full time staff within the Office of Equal Opportunity to oversee the council’s collective equity efforts and ensure progress and coordination is happening across the agency. While the equity implementation team and change teams are tasked with helping embed work within the organization, the new equity implementation unit is asked with ensuring coordination, accountability and oversight. This unit focuses on council-wide coordination on equity efforts, training, research and data analysis, and coordination of the Council’s Equity Advisory Committee.
Lastly, the Met Council is both organizing internally and developing partnerships by forming an Equity Advisory Committee consisting of both council and community members. While it won’t have policy-making authority, the committee will formalize a channel for community input to advise the Council on equitable regional policy. Most importantly, the committee will create a space for policymakers and constituents to sit at the same table on equitable policy discussions. The committee will also create annual work plans reflecting policy questions from both the Council and the committee members.
Further investing in its capacity to achieve racial equity, the Metropolitan Council has had GARE offer staff trainings and even sent a large cohort of employees to the PolicyLink Equity Summit to learn about new research and promising practices in promoting equity from across the country.
About The Metropolitan Council: The Met Council is a regional entity established by legislation. It’s overseen by a council of 16 members all of which are appointed by the Governor of Minnesota.