Medium: Seattle is Helping Baltimore Consider Racial Equity in Budget Decisions

by By Andrew Kleine and Mira Green

Local/ Local Government Fellows/ 2017/

On November 15, 2017, the City of Baltimore and the City of Seattle engaged in a peer exchange partnership project, supported by Results for America’s Local Government Fellowship program. Keep reading for the highlights of how it happened, the impact thus far, and additional resources to learn more.

The goals of the exchange project include:

  • Baltimore shares its Outcomes-Based Budget process with the City of Seattle
  • Seattle shares its Racial Equity Toolkit and its role in reviewing budget requests through a racial equity lens with the City of Baltimore

The desired outcomes of this exchange are:

  • Baltimore will advise and coach Seattle towards adopting outcomes-based budgeting practices
  • Seattle’s Racial and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) will guide conversations around the role of budgeting in addressing racial inequities in Baltimore

Why is Baltimore focusing on racial equity?

  • In recent years, and especially since April 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray, activists in the City of Baltimore have increasingly called upon the City to address racial equity in City programs, including housing, economic development, law enforcement, food access, youth programs, and job training.
  • In November of 2016, Baltimore City voters approved a new Children and Youth Fund, which commits the City to additional funding for youth programs. The task force that was formed to make recommendations concerning the use of the Fund strongly urged City leaders to administer the funding through a racial equity framework, investing in black-led, grassroots organizations serving youth.
  • It is in this context that Baltimore hopes to use Seattle’s Racial and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) Toolkit as a starting point to begin conversations about the role of municipal budgeting and policies in dismantling institutional racism in Baltimore.