NEW WALK-IN HOURS AT OUR MAIN OFFICE. Effective April 22, 2024, our office will be open Tuesdays-Thursdays, 9:30am-4:30pm (closed Mondays and Fridays).
NUEVO HORARIO DE ATENCIÓN EN NUESTRA OFICINA PRINCIPAL. A partir del 22 de abril de 2024, nuestra oficina estará abierta de martes a jueves, de 9:30 a 16:30 (lunes y viernes cerrado).

Building a racially equitable community is a priority

Marin County will spend $1.7 million to increase racial equity in economic opportunity, mental health, and housing

Racial Equity Spending Plan
Posted on Category General, Updates

Research and data from sources such as the World Population Review, continue to reveal that in 2024 everyone in Marin County is not thriving, particularly people of color, low-income communities, and other marginalized groups. In fact, a recent report from Catalyst California reveals that Marin is the third most racially disparate county in the state across indicators such as life expectancy, homeownership, and per capita income. “Racial inequities are not random, natural, or inevitable” shared Jamillah Jordan, the County of Marin’s Equity Director. These disparities are often created and maintained through policies and practices that contain barriers to opportunity. 

According to Marin County’s 2024 Legislative Plan, building a racially equitable community is a priority of Marin County’s Board of Supervisors in addition to organizations like Community Action Marin. The good news is that over the next three years, Marin County will spend $1.7 million to increase racial equity in economic opportunity, mental health, and housing. This decision was part of a collaborative strategic planning process orchestrated by the Marin County Office of Equity with Community Action Marin and other Marin County agencies including Play Marin, Systems Thinking Marin, Workforce Alliance of Marin, Legal Aid of Marin, Marin County Dept of Health and Human Services, Marin County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, the Marin County Board of Supervisors, community members, representatives of the cities of Novato, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, San Rafael, College of Marin, and more. 

To facilitate discussion, a roadmap was implemented with each of the participating agencies taking responsibility for their separate areas of expertise or service. The groups utilized Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) principles as the framework for the conversation, providing a common understanding of the process. The outcome? The 2024-2027 Implementation Strategy for Marin County’s Race Equity Action Plan (REAP). 

“It takes city and county partners committed to active problem solving to achieve all the changes we’re seeking” highlighted Jordan. “Our goal is to expand  access and opportunity for those who are locked out of pathways to homeownership, growing their business, or access to mental health resources. And yet, untying the knots of centuries of systemic racism does not happen overnight. It takes intentionality, urgency and accountability, and it requires all of us to be committed to change.”

As part of the plan, Community Action Marin will be involved in addressing economic opportunity.  

“We live in a culture entrenched in white supremacy and our implicit biases manifest in our institutions and our systems, our education systems, political systems and penal systems” explained Heather Bettini, Assistant Vice President of Programs at Community Action Marin, in a recent Marin IJ article. “So, what can we do? We can build power with people, and you’ll see examples of this woven throughout our strategies.”  

The plan rolls out in phases starting with a minimum wage ordinance that will increase the minimum wage to $18/hour by January 2025. The second strategy in the economic opportunity plan is to install a community marketplace at the Marin Civic Center. The marketplace, which will be farmer’s market style, will allow for local artists or businesses to sell their crafts and food products. There will also be a commissary kitchen, which will allow microbusinesses to cook food on the premises. A Request for Proposal (RFP) process will be conducted among community agencies to identify an organization that will provide the Microenterprise Support Coordinator and spearhead this work in collaboration with the Marin County Economic Vitality Coordinator.   

“Focused support and technical assistance is critical to helping local entrepreneurs build out their businesses and take them to scale” Jordan shared. “There’s permitting processes, financial planning, and small business certifications  that may be required. The RFP we’re developing will ensure that the Microenterprise Support Coordinator has the skills necessary to encompass the breadth and depth of the role. We want to invite feedback from our partners as we craft the RFP so that it’s reflective of their experience and expertise. This approach is true to values of the Race Equity Action Plan, which is  rooted in community and collaboration.”

The plan is to have the new marketplace operational by June 2025. 

“I am very excited about the community marketplace” Bettini added. “There are so many people in our Marin community who have amazing talent and skills and they are not seeing themselves as welcome in many community spaces. The marketplace will help break down barriers and facilitate an environment in which to celebrate the diversity of Marin.” 

Implementation of the plan is viewed by all involved as a critical step to creating positive, meaningful change. This requires well-resourced stewardship, strong accountability structures, and clear communication with all partners.  Ensuring progress, tracking results, and measuring outcomes will be critical to the success of the Race Equity Action Plan. 

“We are instituting quarterly convenings with our County departmental leads and non-profit partners to ensure we are aligned on the path forward and that there is a clear sense of roles for each entity”, explained Jordan. “During these convenings, we will share implementation updates on our progress for each of the plan’s key focus areas (economic opportunity, housing, and mental health), collectively address emerging issues, and explore opportunities to deepen our collaboration.”

In June 2024, Jordan will provide the Board of Supervisors with an update on the Office of Equity’s next steps in the overall Race Equity Action Plan implementation strategy which will include additional funding requests to see it fully executed.