About Us

Our Mission & Vision

GARE fosters critical connections, shared learning, and leadership development to build skills, influence, capacity and accountability to achieve racial equity.

Who We Are

GARE is a dynamic peer-to-peer learning and practice network dedicated to advancing racial equity in government, so that we all thrive where we live, learn, work and play. This network is driven by the active participation of 13,000+ public stewards, or racial equity practitioners, working in 400+ local, regional, and state GARE member jurisdictions and supported by a small staff team and strategic partners. GARE racial equity practitioners work to equitably strengthen and steward our public goods so that individuals, families and communities can live long, healthy, joyful lives, no matter their race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, migration status, or zip code. GARE envisions a vibrant, just, multiracial democracy in which local, regional, and state governments work for all and race no longer determines life outcomes. 

People connecting and sharing ideas

What We Do

GARE practitioners use a racial equity approach to transform the everyday work of 400+ local, regional, and state governments so that all families and communities live long, healthy, joyful lives, no matter their race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, migration status or zip code. We are race explicit not race exclusive.  

How We Do It

We bring together public stewards to cultivate peer-to-peer relationships, learn, apply, and innovate the GARE approach, and co-create new racial equity tools, strategies, and resources.

Why We Do It

Local, regional, and state governments must live into their role, responsibility, and promise to affirmatively guarantee the health and wellbeing of each of our communities. Data shows that racial equity approaches to public policy close disparities, strengthen public goods and systems, and ultimately improve outcomes for all. 


Working within an institution to transform the institution can be fraught with challenges. We have therefore identified a set of core beliefs about how to operate in a manner that advances racial equity. Embodying these beliefs in our routine operations can strengthen our ability to work through the many challenges we face while bolstering our resiliency. We believe: 

Race matters

Although tensions or anxiety can sometimes be a part of conversations about race, we know it is necessary for us to name race head-on, both in the details of our work and how we work with each other.

Inclusion matters

People impacted by a decision should be engaged in the decision-making process.

History matters

While the institution of racism was created well before our time, we are dealing with both the historical legacy and current reality. Racism and racial inequities have resulted in trauma, both to individuals and to communities. A trauma-informed approach to our work is necessary for our collective humanity.

Leadership matters

Transforming our systems towards greater racial equity requires consistent and courageous leadership. We recognize the importance of formal and informal leadership. We support formal leadership working to advance racial equity, as well as the development of emerging leadership.

Understanding matters

Our institutions, systems and structures are complex. To transform our institutions and organizational cultures, it is critical that we develop a more nuanced understanding of that complexity. This includes moving beyond only quantitative approaches and incorporating qualitative and experiential ways of knowing.

Movement matters

Racial inequities have been intentionally created and maintained. They will not disappear on their own. To advance racial equity, we must be organizing within our own institutions and across institutions, always putting community at the center. We believe that a racial equity movement must build and expand the engagement of governmental jurisdictions (and others) across the country.

Power matters

Because power has so often been used to perpetuate inequities, we recognize that we can sometimes have an awkward relationship with power. We believe in intentionally examining, considering, negotiating and claiming power that advances racial equity.

Learning matters

Creating environments of learning within and between our organizations will help to replicate success, expand learning from each other’s experiences and leverage change. Our network and this movement will benefit from continuous, intentional learning and feedback.

In the spirit of continuous learning, we will refine these statements routinely. 


Public stewards working in local and regional government created GARE because of their commitment to racial justice. In 2004, the City of Seattle launched the first formal initiative for racial equity in government, the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI). Over time, racial equity leaders in jurisdictions across the country found each other and began to exchange experiences and ideas.  During this early phase of work, practitioners developed strategies and approaches leading to an organizational change model for local government grounded in what is now known as “the GARE Approach.” In 2012 RSJI convened a Governing for Racial Equity Conference for local jurisdictions. Although intended to be a regional conference, the demand was high with over 500 elected officials and government staff attending from across the country. As this momentum grew, GARE found its first home at the Othering & Belonging (formerly, the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society) at the University of California, Berkeley. 

By 2014, “early adopters,” of the GARE Approach emerged with 37 racial equity practitioners working across 13 local and regional governments including Seattle, WA, Fairfax County, Ramsey County, Hennepin County, Dane County, finding common cause and interest in forming a national cohort. GARE hosted its first official meeting in 2015 in the Twin Cities, with over 500 attendees. That year, GARE also hosted a peer-to-peer learning exchange between Multnomah County and City of Madison. A membership structure was created that year – with just over a dozen jurisdictions joining. Membership grew steadily over the years, just over 40 members in 2017, and more than doubling by 2018, and doubling again by 2019. The GARE membership network expanded in membership rapidly in 2020, following the largest racial justice uprisings in our nation’s history. Today, GARE has over 400 member jurisdictions and more than 13,000 racial equity practitioners in its network.

Large group of people posed on grass and smiling