Working toward Racial Equity through the Integration Initiative

Closing Racial Gaps through Living Cities’ Signature Initiative

At Living Cities, we are impatient with incremental change and without addressing racial inequities, we know that we cannot achieve lasting change for people. Through The Integration Initiative, cross-sector leaders in five cities are working to create thriving, inclusive and resilient economies so that people, particularly people of color, are economically secure and building wealth. From working toward housing equity to supporting businesses owned by women and people of color, read on for a snapshot of what each city is working on in getting to the audacious goal of closing racial gaps in jobs, income, and wealth.


We believe that there’s a better way to build jobs — start local. We focus on supporting those things that make Albuquerque unique and building jobs from within by re-aligning resources, removing bureaucratic obstacles, and supporting four different entrepreneurial clusters, all of which make up a resilient and diverse economy. We ground our efforts in real-time data while addressing racial and income disparity head on.

Our Albuquerque Integration Initiative site works to build local jobs from within — leveraging the diversity and assets of the community to create a vibrant and supportive ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship and innovation, which empowers residents to start and grow businesses that create good jobs that provide livable wages.

One initiative we are supporting through our TII work in Albuquerque is called Co-op Capital, and is currently being offered by Nusenda Credit Union, a local nonprofit credit union and one of our lead partners. Nusenda Credit Union is working with its trusted member organizations, including associations and co-ops, to create a loan program for their affiliates. The member organization collateralizes a low-interest loan through its credit union deposit account and the credit union provides the origination, servicing, and positive credit reporting. The member organization makes the determination on whether to make the loan. Credit reports are not required; instead trusted relationships empower the loan decision and the responsibility to pay back the loan.

Los Jardines Institute is a non-profit farming collaborative in the South Valley, a majority Hispanic region and one of the most economically marginalized areas of Albuquerque. The non-profit is working to educate neighborhood residents on gardening, farming, and good nutritional practices for improved health. A Co-op Capital loan was made to cover their capital outlay for the hoop house they are building for the project. Source: Albuquerque Integration Initiative


By identifying local and minority businesses and working to refine institutional policies and practices, procurement spending can be redirected to drive economic development to create jobs.

The Baltimore Integration Partnership is supporting 14 anchor institutions — including Johns Hopkins University; Kaiser Permanente; Maryland Institute College of Arts; and the University of Maryland, Baltimore — as they work to increase their local hiring, purchasing, and investment strategies to support community needs and to set inclusion goals for their work.

A new $10 million fund was launched in December to continue the revitalization of neighborhoods in central Baltimore while creating jobs for area residents. The Central Baltimore Future Fund (CBFF), which was envisioned in the Homewood Community Partners Initiative (HCPI), is being managed by the Reinvestment Fund. Fund borrowers need to incorporate economic inclusion goals including minority business contracting and local hiring into their projects.

Launch of the Central Baltimore Future Fund. Source: Baltimore City Mayor’s Office

The Fund will finance residential, retail and office real estate projects that will achieve HCPI’s overall goals. Johns Hopkins and the community came together to move forward with the HCPI initiative, and JHU is a co-investor in the fund along with area banks and foundations, including Living Cities. HCPI agreed to focus on ten neighborhoods and a shared vision to increase the population by 3,000 households in ten years. They identified 37 recommendations, totaling $60 million in investment targeted over five years, which cut across five issue areas: public schools, quality of life, housing, economic inclusion,and improvements to school buildings and programming. In addition to physical improvements in these issue areas, HCPI and JHU have plans for local hiring, purchasing locally, using minority- and women-owned construction contractors, supporting small business growth, and training programs for workforce preparation and advancement.

Minneapolis & St. Paul

Working actively with corporate leaders and employers to strengthen their capacity for effective hiring, training and retention will create more inclusive workplaces and connect more African-American jobseekers to regional employers facing a labor shortage.

Opportunity Neighborhoods for Regional Prosperity, the local Integration Initiative in Minneapolis- St. Paul anchored by the Northside Funders Group, supports aligning private and public investment to create physical locations that are “business-ready” with an emphasis on creating employment opportunities for residents of the Northside of Minneapolis, to close wage gaps between blacks and whites.

Construction work for Juxtaposition Arts in North Minneapolis. Source: Northside Funders Group

The partnership is leveraging private sector investments to incentivize and catalyze public sector investments and development tools that can accelerate capital investment and business development. They are committed to ensuring that as new development occurs Northside residents have opportunities to determine how they benefit from business growth, wealth creation, tax base expansion, and growth in amenities. The Northside is well-positioned for public investment with two new planned light rail transit lines, and this partnership is prioritizing equitable access, and shared prosperity with their eyes on scaling their work in St. Paul and other challenged neighborhoods in the region.

New Orleans

With an increase in capacity and ability to make connections, disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) will gain contracting opportunities and take in more revenue.

Living Cities is a supporter of the BuildNOLA Mobilization Fund, which supports local disadvantaged businesses in accessing the capital necessary to bid on public construction and infrastructure projects. The fund provides capital to help overcome common challenges of small businesses, such as meeting payroll while waiting for a client payment to come in, or staffing up to successfully bid on a new project. The fund will allow small businesses to grow their capacity and benefit from the numerous projects happening around the city.

Garden Doctors is one of the firms that participated in BuildNOLA, an eight-week training program to help local small and disadvantaged businesses compete for public and private contracts. Source: Network for Economic Opportunity

San Francisco

Mixed-income housing development of public housing allows our communities to live in an improved and destigmatized physical environment, enjoy expanded social and economic networks, and maintain strong ties to cultural and familial support networks by continuing to live in their neighborhoods.
Aerial view of Potrero Hill. Source: San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development

Equitable mixed-income development prioritizes supporting families of former public housing in (re)building their own communities that are integrated within San Francisco, connected to neighborhood services and amenities, and display the hallmarks of strong and vibrant neighborhoods.

Source: San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development

HOPE SF aims to dismantle the racialized caste system tied to people and place in San Francisco. Economic data tells us that San Francisco experienced an unprecedented period of growth from 2010 to 2016, resulting in record-low unemployment rates and the highest median household income in the history of the region. Yet only 1 in 2 working African Americans and Latinos are stably housed and economically secure in the City. HOPE SF repairs isolated neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into ecosystems of opportunity by guaranteeing non-displacement of low-income residents, increasing the number of affordable and middle-income housing units on-site, and organizing networks and supportive services anchored in community wealth and power for communities of color.

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