Community equity-audit input sought

jillianharvey 125 010720Jillian Harvey

UPDATED Nov. 17: As Arlington's community-equity audit continues with the participation of the company Opportunity Consulting, in-person focus groups are scheduled to take place on these dates and times:

If interested in participating but unable to attend a focus group, consider responding to the anonymous survey. Find out more about the audit (scroll to end of page).

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Halfway done with equity audit, consultant tells Select Board

Marie Krepelka is awarded the Paul Harris Award by Arlington’s Rotary Club, 2018. Photo – Ashley Maher Arlington’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Director JillianHarvey updated the Select Board about her department’s community equity audit at its Oct. 24 meeting. To see the full report, click here >> 

In discussing the scope of recommendations, Harvey said, “I’m interested in looking at civic participation, workforce and housing, and how we can we work together with what we have in town. I want to learn the root causes, look at and determine how we got the results, how we can co-create solutions, and figure out the next steps.” 

Harvey said the town had hired the firm Opportunity Consulting of Washington, D.C., in June, to help with this project. Its representative visited Arlington in August and submitted an interim report dated Oct. 7.

Recommendations expected by January

According to its website, Opportunity Consulting is a woman- and black- and Latina-owned business that works at the intersection of community, systems and research to co-create a more just and racially equitable world where every person has an opportunity to thrive. It operates in partnership with mission-driven organizations, school systems, cities, public agencies, social-impact organizations and foundations to help them align equity-focused intentions with actions for real-life impact.

Iris Bond-Gill, Opportunity Consulting CEO, says the firm offers a new approach to consulting. Its work is based on data and research but also on the voices that are most marginalized. “Our programs are designed to get the results we seek, and where changes can be targeted to be more equitable,” she said.

Yasamin Gordon, Opportunity Consulting project director, said that the firm is a little more than halfway finished with the project. “We’re in the thick of the engagement, with focus groups being held in mid-November, and plan to provide the final report and recommendations in January 2023.” 

She continued, “We’re trying to gain the big picture of what’s happening in Arlington. We’re talking to residents randomly, to get their take on what they’re experiencing in town. We’re also targeting groups that the data show are most underrepresented. We’d like to get perspectives of the town’s youth and students as well, and they will be part of our focus groups. We’re starting to see what is shaping up in terms of findings, to see the main causes contributing to inequality,” added Gordon.

Watch the entire Oct. 24 meeting on ACMi:

Gordon explained that people are looking for immediate results, what can affect their daily lives and what is feasible/doable for Arlington. “Our recommendations will be a balance of what that is, and what the community is telling us their needs are,” she said. “We’ll also have recommendations based on national research on communities similar to Arlington.”

Board member Steve DeCourcey said, “In order for you to do your job, we’ll need to work with you and do our job. We want to continue that partnership and participate in hitting milestones that you’ve outlined in your report.”

Board member John Hurd said, “The town has put DEI efforts to the forefront, and a lot of us have been looking forward to this equity audit.”


Sept. 28, 2022: Town Hall diversity efforts widen with ADA, outreach hires

 


This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Thursday, Nov. 12, 2022, and updated Nov. 17, with information from the Town of Arlington about in-person focus groups convening soon.

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