Denver Racial Equity Toolkit

Denver Racial Equity Toolkit

Denver, CO

Nearly 100 DOTI staff from a variety of divisions provided feedback on specific needs and strategies to advance racial equity in their work.

Denver Moves Everyone (DME), Denver’s 30-year vision for transportation, sets bold transportation goals and a performance framework to advance racial equity in transportation investments and options. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) brought Nelson\Nygaard on to the DME team to build both the project team and DOTI's capacity to lead with racial equity in their 30-year strategic transportation plan. In collaboration with DOTI, Nelson\Nygaard developed the City and County of Denver's first racial equity toolkit, a plan and policy development framework that supports both equitable process and project outcomes by centering the needs of impacted communities. The racial equity framework is both a tool and a process map with key analysis questions for staff implementers to assess and ensure that actions, decisions, and metrics achieve racially equitable goals and outcomes informed by communities of color as part of any project, plan, policy, or program.

To inform racial equity toolkit development, the team conducted a racial equity needs assessment. The team used a variety of methods to assess racial equity understanding and applied practices within DOTI, including focus groups with DOTI staff, peer city and expert interviews, a staff survey, and research on emerging equity practices. Focus groups and a DOTI staff survey allowed the team to understand how racial equity is currently integrated into day-to-day project work, practices, and procedures. Nearly 100 DOTI staff from a variety of divisions provided feedback on specific needs and strategies to advance racial equity in their work. Focus group discussions helped identify existing racial equity policies and practices within DOTI and other City and County of Denver (CCD) departments. The project team reviewed existing racial equity workunderway both at DOTI and in other departments to establish the baseline thatthe toolkit built upon.

“Nelson\Nygaard provided expert technical assistance and professional advisement services and delivered the much needed Racial Equity Toolkit.”

- Alana Miller, Colorado Policy Director, Climate and Clean Energy Program Natural Resources Defense Council

The final version of the toolkit was developed during the summer of 2022 and updates the first version of the racial equity toolkit with lessons learned from implementing the toolkit within the DME process, especially in equity-focused community engagement. The toolkit lays out a process applicable to the development, implementation, and evaluation of various project types, from policymaking to planning and design. This toolkit is designed to help staff—in collaboration with communities of color—deliver projects and programs equitably and track progress toward achieving both DOTI-wide and program- or project-specific equity goals and objectives. Staff beyond the planning division, including project managers involved in design and implementation will receive training on the toolkit process and resource to further embed racial equity practices and community-first approaches throughout DOTI. As DOTI institutionalizes the toolkit, staff will grow their shared understanding, knowledge, applied practices, and available resources for advancing racial equity in collaboration with community through DOTI’s various lines of business.

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