The Town of Chapel Hill’s mission is “learning, serving and working together to build a community where people thrive.” To create a place for everyone, the Town is committed to racial equity and is working to apply a racial equity lens to both its external and internal programs and policies.
Externally, the Town is committed to creating equitable approaches to community engagement. In 2016, the Town Council established a Council Goal focused on community engagement and inclusion. In 2018, the Town formed the Community Connections division of the Office of Housing and Community to further engage Town residents in town processes and build deeper partnerships, particularly with historically marginalized populations. Incorporating a racial equity lens, the goal of Community Connections is to adopt and sustain a culture and practice of meaningful civic engagement and community partnership to achieve outcomes that reflect the community’s concerns, aspiration, and values. Community Connections has an intentional focus on engaging those who have been historically disengaged or disconnected from the Town, with an emphasis on the most impacted and historically marginalized populations.
In 2017, the Town was selected to be part the Building Integrated Communities (BIC) Initiative. This initiative is a collaboration of the Town, community groups, residents, and the statewide BIC initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Chapel Hill BIC initiative addresses issues facing immigrant and refugee communities and generates innovative, locally-relevant public policies, strategies, and programs rooted in experiences of Chapel Hill’s immigrant and refugee residents and prioritized to address disadvantaged and historically excluded populations.
Additionally in 2017, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger created the Historic Civil Rights Commemorations Task Force. The Task Force explores Chapel Hill’s civil rights history and leads efforts to commemorate civil rights events. Most recently, the Task Force led a community history project to create a timeline documenting the people, places, and events in the African American struggle for civil rights in Chapel Hill. This interactive timeline is available at www.chapelhillhistory.org.
Internally, an estimated 4% of Town staff have completed an intensive 2-day racial equity workshop through the Racial Equity Institute. The Town’s Senior leadership team also complete this training and interest has continued to grow for more Town departments to offer the course to their staff. Additionally, Town staff have formed a cross-departmental diversity, equity, and inclusion team to explore how to internal Town policies and programs can better support the Town’s diverse employees.