Racial Equity Strategic Planning Committee

Process Led by United Health Group Equity Innovation Lab

In January 2021, the Bloomington City Council declared racism to be a public health crisis affecting the well-being of its Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) residents. In doing so, the Council acknowledged that Bloomington has significant racial disparities in all aspects of community well-being, including health, education, employment, income, and housing. The Council also acknowledged that addressing this crisis requires us to expand beyond ongoing internal efforts to embed racial equity principles in our policies and practices and programs. 

“The City absolutely has a role to play, but we cannot address critical issues such as the racial income gap and lack of affordable housing, alone,” Racial Equity Coordinator Faith Jackson said “Solving these challenges truly requires cross-sector collaboration. We need to hear directly from our community members and partner with organizations that bring additional influence, capacity, and resources to birth innovative and creative solutions to the issues that have plagued our community for far too long.”

About the Racial Equity Strategic Planning Committee

The newly ignited Racial Equity Strategic Planning Committee (RESPC) is charged with identifying collaborative policy and operational strategies needed to disrupt racial disparities in the social determinates of health. The RESPC is comprised of residents, nonprofits (including Cornerstone, VEAP, and Bridging), employers (including representatives from Quality Bicycle Products, U.S. Bank, The Toro Company, and the local Radisson Blu) financial and lending institutions, cultural and community advocacy organizations, Bloomington Public Schools staff and students, City of Bloomington staff, and a City Council representative. 

“We understand the conditions in which people live, work, and play have a significant impact on their health,” RESPC member Kate Ebert said. “Taking a public health approach helps us to address these complicated structural issues by working collaboratively towards our common goals. It puts an emphasis on everyday issues that affect the health and well-being of Bloomington’s BIPOC community.”

The committee’s work is facilitated by the United Health Group Equity Innovation lab. Dr. Hedy Walls the Chief Social Responsibility Officer for the YMCA of the North is leading the facilitation.  “Having the experience of Dr. Walls and the UHG Equity Innovation Lab as a resource is a key to our future success,” said Jamie Verbrugge, Bloomington City Manager.  “We are excited for their proven ability to unite people around a call to action and moving forward together.

How to get involved

In keeping with the City’s commitment to authentically engage underrepresented racial and ethnic communities in the governing process, the committee is prioritizing the voices of those directly impacted by racial disparities. Over the next several months the RESPC will host ongoing opportunities for the public to provide input are available on the City’s digital engagement platform at blm.mn/letstalk.

Timeline and Next Steps 

The RESPC kickoff meeting was March 23.The committee will continue to meet over the next several months building on information shared by the community to develop a final report. Recommendations will be presented to the City Council in September 2021.