Including everyone

This week we launched a critically important tool to make sure we serve everyone in Pierce County.

The Equity Index website is now live and County employees are getting trained on how best to use this new way to consider the breadth and impact of our programs and initiatives. You can learn more about the Index here and I encourage you to check out the interactive maps that allow you to see how a proposed project can benefit those who need it most.

A screenshot of the Equity Index across Pierce County
A screenshot of the map that shows access to a variety of services and support

I think it is fair to say that in the past, investments and policies were designed and approved based on political advocacy. In other words, those who were civically minded and connected had a more direct route to getting their priorities considered and funded. Consequently, specific neighborhoods and communities benefited more than others.

Over time, significant disparities were more evident and the need to close those gaps became more urgent. I see these disparities as I travel around the County. Your economic opportunity or lifespan should not be a function of where you grew up.  Take a second to review the broad categories that the index and the map reflect: Equity Overview; Livability; Accessibility; Economy; Education; and Environmental Health.  As you look at the details, you will see attributes that we want for everyone in Pierce County.

One of the best ways to reach those who might otherwise not be reached by a program or initiative is to simply ask, “Who isn’t at the table?” That list might include those left behind due to language differences, disabilities, or a lack of access to technology.

The Equity Index is a powerful tool that works in concert with the new Equity Note. The Equity Note will be attached to all legislation forwarded to Council for its review and potential action. The Note outlines the many considerations that leaders need to evaluate to make sure the needs of all residents are taken into account. The Note also provides space to outline ways the effectiveness of the program or initiative will be measured.

The Equity Note and Index provide us better tools to assess the impacts of our work and allow us to make sure we are supporting every community.  This is very challenging and critically important work, and I’m proud we’ve hit this milestone.  As we move forward, I am sure we will learn how to use it more effectively and refine and improve the tool.

It is difficult to overestimate the many ways these new tools will change the way we work. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Julie Demuth and the team of Amy Scott German, Ashley Colburn and Morgan Sampson from Finance for spearheading this important work.  Thanks, also, to the Communications team for creating the fantastic web site that will help us include everyone in the County.

Thanks for reading,