Summary of Objective Implementation Status
This Objective began initial implementation efforts with the creation of the ARPA Equity Work Group, in September, 2021. The Group worked to center equity to support community members who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Accordingly, unmet community and business needs evaluation criteria were developed to inform and guide the County’s equitable recovery efforts with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
Using August 2021 industry and occupation‐level data from the Sonoma County Economic Development Board (EDB) through their consultant, Dr. Robert Eyler, as well as the update to the Portrait of Sonoma, which uses the Human Development Index to highlight disparities across education, income and health indicators, staff and the Work Group identified root causes and created criteria and priority areas for focused investments to address the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on specific communities of color and geographic areas in the county. On December 14, 2021, the Board approved $39 million of the $96 million to be allocated to fund both services and capacity building throughout the systems of care provided by our Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) partners through the Community Resilience Program (Resilience Program). Through the equity design process, community partners elevated, and the Board validated and embraced, the importance of these funds reaching CBOs and community members who traditionally experience marginalization in these funding and service opportunities. This approach has resulted in new partners, increased capacity, and a greater reach into seeing and serving those communities and community members who have experienced disproportionately greater negative outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the course of the ARPA award period, funds invested will change the way in which County and community work together by developing new partnerships and creating ongoing resources that will reshape how we engage with community providers. This work lays a foundation that supports numerous Strategic Plan objectives as well as the Board contracting principles adopted in 2019. Since July 2021, ARPA funding has already begun to change the nature of the County’s relationship with the community through extensive community engagement efforts. Staff have conducted over 95 trainings and community meetings to collaboratively create funding priority and process recommendations, make funding distribution recommendations, and build community capacity to implement equity-centered approaches to COVID-19 recovery.
As a result of the hundreds of hours of ARPA-funded staff in the Human Services Department and the Office of Equity, and community member time invested to date, the Resilience Program funds are being distributed to 24 contracted organizations who are partnering with 71 unique subcontractors who will complete a total of 27 different projects. Of the organizations receiving funding, the vast majority have only received nominal funding from the County, and have never received state or federal funding. It can be difficult for small or inexperienced organizations to successfully navigate the County procurement process. Under the ARPA Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) process, staff spent significant time convening interested community groups and providing technical assistance and opportunities for organizations to partner in the provision of services. Agencies with experience in administering federal funds were encouraged to partner with smaller organizations. This work changed the nature of relationships amongst local agencies, creating unique and unprecedented consortiums. Subsequently, staff solicited a group of volunteers, representing the communities to be served, to sit on the review committees and thoughtfully evaluate the proposals. These deliberate efforts resulted in a wide dispersal of federal funds to organizations and communities that the usual processes often do not reach. The process represents a shift in the way business is conducted and is providing lessons learned for future improvements in inclusion and accessibility.
While this work is focused on pandemic recovery, many of the structural changes and best practices that have been earlier identified can be implemented in an accelerated manner in this pilot stage. This pilot will inform efforts to ensure that equity goals are centered in the collection and analysis of County data.
Subsequent to the selection of the Resilience Program projects, staff immediately began providing a variety of trainings to invest in the capacity building element of the Program; this type of support will continue throughout the term of the funding agreements. It is important to note that the role of the fiscal lead agencies is to facilitate the execution of the deliverables outlined in the contract scope of work with the subcontractors. It is not their role, nor do they have the expertise, to build their own capacity or that of the subcontractors to implement Anti-Racist RBA and the additional requirements for data collection.
Key Milestone Update
Because the County is leveraging ARPA funds to invest in capacity building for the widest possible range of community partners, the following trainings and resources were offered to all 95 contractors and subcontractors:
Additionally, Anti-Racist RBA metrics for all programs are being developed and will be shared online via the RBA Scorecard once all Anti-Racist RBA plans are fully executed. Plans will be available in early January 2023 and the Scorecard will be live in spring 2023. These metrics will be used to monitor the impacts of investments for each program.
County-wide Anti-Racist Results Based Accountability
Early in its visioning process, the Office of Equity identified an opportunity to both support and leverage the excellent work of Upstream Investments’ Results-Based Accountability work by injecting a critical focus on race equity into this results driven methodology. Prior to undertaking this more technical work, however, County staff required a foundational and shared understanding of key racial equity concepts and practices. The Racial Equity Learning Program, which has been first of its kind in the County organization, included the creation of affinity and learning spaces, as well as trainings for members of the Core Team to develop technical expertise in Anti-Racist Results-Based Accountability (AR RBA) and to develop facilitation expertise in conversations about race equity. This Foundational training lasted approximately 12 weeks through the Fall-Winter of 2021 and the Spring-Summer of 2022, focusing on the creation of a learning and healing community of Core Team members.
Following the close of the Foundational training, 31 Core Team members representing 12 County Departments and Agencies chose to participate in training and implementation of Anti-Racist Results-Based Accountability. Participating Departments and Agencies include: Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Board of Supervisors (District 3), County Administrator’s Office, Community Development Commission, Child Support Services, Emergency Management, Department of Health Services, Human Resources, Human Services, Probation, Sonoma Water, and the Office of Equity. This learning space is supported and facilitated by our lead consultant, Equity & Results. The consultant has worked with Core Team participants by helping to identify the roots of inequities pertaining to their departments or agencies and areas of expertise and to visualize strategic solutions to those inequities as critical pieces of a Countywide effort to establish accountability for the policies and programs that continue to perpetuate inequities among local communities of color. This piece of the Racial Equity Learning Program ended on December 15, 2022.
Participating Departments, through their Core Team members, have identified the roots of inequities pertaining to their Departments or Agencies and areas of expertise and to visualize strategic solutions to those inequities as critical pieces of a Countywide effort to establish accountability for the policies and programs that continue to perpetuate inequities among local communities of color.
Key to understanding whether county resources and programs are being equitably distributed and reaching targeted groups, these Core Team members will now work to develop the data infrastructure to collect data by race/ethnicity, nativity, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and disability status, as well as by neighborhood. This data will help Departments gain a better and more accurate understanding of the needs of underrepresented groups in our community and their complex experiences.
Through the Office of Equity Steering Committee, these analyses will form the basis for a Racial Equity Action Plan, to be finalized by January, 2024.
Elimination of data gaps will allow us to see the negative impacts caused by the lack of access to services by racial and ethnic groups that are disproportionately under-served, and the development and application of performance metrics to address that underservice or underinvestment will support targeted investments to address and mitigate negative impacts.
Because the Safety Net Departments fund community-based organizations, there may also be a need to invest in the data infrastructure of Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to track disaggregated data and report back to County Departments, similar to the work currently being done to support CBOs receiving funding under ARPA. Data collected from County programs and CBOs will be shared with impacted communities to ensure they have a say in what data are collected, how data are used and how their own identities and experiences are captured.
By bridging the gap between a commitment to racial equity and the day-to-day work through this data-rich and rigorous seven step process, the County is able to move from intention to transformation and to achieve equitable outcomes. By focusing on addressing whether outcomes have improved for communities of color, this methodology begins by teaching participants to analyze the real impacts and harm of systemic racism on communities of color, and then backs into solutions that strategically address the roots of the inequities of most consequence. This iterative methodology requires people to ask whether Black, Indigenous and communities of color are better off in response to those solutions.
Timeline (2021 to 2026)
With ARPA funding, eliminate data gaps:
The desired outcome is that all County departments are aware and informed about the community members they serve to ensure the provision of culturally responsive and effective service delivery. Easy access to this information will assist County departments to provide the information as well as access to services as needed for them to lead a safe and healthy life.
The following metrics will be applied to track and demonstrate progress:
Coordination and Partnership Update
In alignment with the County’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan pillar, the County recognizes that meaningful and effective change can only occur when we co-create solutions with the communities most impacted, in this case with the ARPA Equity Work Group, by COVID-19.
Using the ARPA community engagement process as a pilot to support the development of the data infrastructure throughout the County and working in partnership with CBO partners, the County will be able to leverage these investments to create a sustainable County-wide anti-racist data infrastructure.
There are major pieces of connectivity to the Racial Equity & Social Justice Pillar, and this data infrastructure and analysis work will ensure that the County and its partners have the disaggregated data to support focused and targeted investments with common metrics and performance measures across the systems.
Community, Equity, and Climate Update
The ARPA Equity Work Group was comprised of multi-sector community leaders that, collectively, were able to identify and speak to the myriad concerns and needs of our low income communities, Black, Indigenous, and communities of color, and LGBTQI communities.
The creation of the ARPA Community Equity Work Group was a pilot project, and the best practices and challenges experienced will be included and addressed in the County’s future Community Engagement Plan.
We will need funding to support each participating Department to continue the work of fleshing out the particular and unique plan for each department’s Anti-Racist Results Based Accountability work. This includes technical assistance and facilitation support for pilot departments, to be identified in January and February, 2023. Costs are unknown and ongoing.
There are likely additional costs to train and support Community Based Organizations to deepen their capacity to collect and report new data points. Costs for CBOs training and support are unknown and ongoing.