Progress update: Race and Culture recommendations

Fort Worth continues to make progress on implementing recommendations from the Task Force on Race and Culture.

In December 2018, the City Council approved 22 Race and Culture Task Force recommendations in key areas of criminal justice, economic development, education, governance, health, housing and transportation.

Progress highlights:

Criminal Justice: Civilian oversight of Police Department
The new Police Oversight Monitor-Director of the Office of the Police Oversight Monitor Kim Neal and Assistant Police Oversight Monitor Denise Rodriguez joined the city in March. Since then, the office has conducted initial meetings with multiple community organizations, city leaders and FWPD personnel.

The office created a complaint form and has begun receiving and reviewing complaints, inquiries, commendations, use of force incidents, FWPD policies and procedures including, but not limited to, use of force.

All members of the staff are Criminal Justice Information Services certified and continue to participate in external training opportunities. Office personnel have also received training on the Texas Public Information Act as well as met with the City Attorney’s Office.

Criminal Justice: Police cadet program
The Fort Worth Police Department completed all tasks related to the advertising, interviewing and hiring 20 new cadets.

Criminal Justice: Police Department diversity
Members of the Fort Worth Police Department Training Division met with colleagues in the Fire Department to share ideas on recruiting. A FWFD representative provided information on a targeted social media campaign and “text this number” campaign that allowed them to increase their diversity pool with great success. These ideas were added to recruitment plans for future implementation.

Economic Development: Job training, transportation to jobs, background issues and hiring process
The city partnered with Workforce Solutions to enhance job fairs and training opportunities and is currently working with Workforce Solutions to identify occupations with labor shortages. Municipal Courts expanded its Safe Harbor Initiative warrant forgiveness program and declared February 2020 Warrant Forgiveness Month. Individuals who voluntarily appeared at a court location in February to act on their cases were eligible for community service or a reduction in the fine amount based on their ability to pay. Municipal Court also continued its Court in the Community initiative to bring the mobile court to sites across the city in February. The city is also working with all chambers of commerce on a memorandum of understanding about various employment-related issues, including transportation to work.

Economic Development: Education incentives to achieve wage parity
In partnership with United Way of Tarrant County and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce (which has employed staff to provide oversight and technical assistance to FWISD and community GO Centers), Fort Worth ISD currently has 42 active GO Centers operating around Fort Worth. GO Centers are designed to help students see pathways to careers and college. They are physical spaces in schools, libraries, workforce centers and church-affiliated spaces equipped with computers and overseen by school staff. Tarrant County College also hosts a mobile GO Center. Students visit the GO Centers and research career opportunities, college options and financial aid. Students are assisted by mentors from higher education institutions and from the community.

Economic Development: Capacity-building of minority-owned businesses
The Business Equity Division, formerly the Office of Business Diversity, transitioned from the Economic Development Department to the new Department of Diversity and Inclusion, expanding its responsibilities for capacity-building of minority-owned businesses in the process.

The Business Equity Division completed the city’s 2020 Business Equity Disparity Study in June with consultant Colette Holt Advisors. Along with partner organizations, the division completed 77 outreach events for minority businesses to date, and partnered with Beck Construction to launch Beck School of Construction for new or emerging local minority businesses.

Education: Early childhood intervention via quality child care
The city partnered with the Early Learning Alliance to embark on a 10-year movement working to ensure that all children have the foundation they need to succeed in school and in life:

  • Increased Texas Rising Star quality child care by 131%.
  • On-boarded 3,000+ child care professionals on registry.
  • Completed 3,000+ infants and toddler screenings through Ages & Stages Questionnaire.

Education: Service learning and civic engagement
The Rising Stars Leadership Academy has expanded from a 10-week summer program to a year-round experience for youth ages 13-18. Before COVID-19, the goal was to enroll 20 youth in the first year-round class by March 1, 2020. Youth will be selected from economically-challenged communities to participate in the Rising Stars Leadership Academy, which will be held at Martin Luther King Community Center in conjunction with the EnVision Center. The FW@ 6 program sites participated in two service-learning projects — working at the North Texas Area Food Bank, and collecting toys for Cook Children’s Medical Center.

Education: College and career centers
Fort Worth ISD currently has 42 active GO Centers operating around Fort Worth. GO Centers are designed to help students see pathways to careers and college. They are physical spaces in schools, libraries, workforce centers and church-affiliated spaces equipped with computers and managed by school staff. Tarrant County College also hosts a mobile GO Center. Students visit the GO Centers and research career opportunities, college options and financial aid. Students are assisted by mentors from higher education institutions and from the community.

Governance: Redistricting
The 2016 Charter Amendment increased the number of City Councilmembers from 8 plus 1 to 10 plus 1, effective with redistricting after the 2020 Census for the 2023 municipal election.

Governance: Diversity and Inclusion Department
The activities identified related to the creation of the Department of Diversity and Inclusion have all been completed. The Municipal Equity Division has 1.5 staff members, the Business Equity Division has six staff members, and the Civil Rights Enforcement Division has 10 full-time and three part-time staff members and an assistant department director. The new diversity and inclusion director/chief equity officer began work in December 2019 and developed new mission, objectives and measures for the new department. The Business Equity Division, formerly reporting to the Economic Development Department, now reports to the Diversity and Inclusion Department. All divisions are co-located at Hazel Harvey Peace Center for Neighborhoods using a shared-space model to reduce utility costs.

Governance: Diversity training
The Department of Diversity and Inclusion (formerly Human Relations Unit) and the former Performance and Budget Department completed Values Summits on Diversity and Mutual Respect for supervisors in October 2019. The department implemented specialized department inclusion, diversity, equity and access workshops. The city has Diversity and Inclusion educational workshops available online through Employee University.

Health: Health education and outreach
Fort Worth’s overall 2018 Well-Being Index score rose to 62.5, a gain of nearly four points since 2014. Gallup Sharecare Well-Being Index has not released new reports for 2019 or 2020 to date.

Health: Active lifestyles
The city opened Hillside Community Center fitness center in February 2020. The city has finalized Silver Sneakers and Active Renew agreements and implemented new programs to increase older adult use of fitness classes and facilities through existing health care providers at community centers.

In order to encourage active lifestyles in neighborhoods, the city began installing 6,800 feet of sidewalk improvement and 1,000 streetlights using existing bond and PayGo funds. To date, the city has 7,230 linear feet of sidewalks planned in NPAs, and 1,200 linear feet or 20% completed. The city has also focused efforts on streetlight maintenance to encourage walkability in neighborhoods. To date, 860 lights have been improved and converted to LED in NPAs since Jan. 1, 2020 (86%). The city’s Active Transportation Plan (ATP) was adopted by council April 2019 and is currently used as a guide to prioritize sidewalk gap implementation and 2022 Bond project identification.

Health: Healthy foods
With the approval of the Farmer’s Market Ordinance by City Council, the city approved residential food carts that can sell packaged fresh fruit cups in Fort Worth neighborhoods. This was accomplished through a standing partnership with Blue Zones, a local food cart operator (Gabriel Velazquez) and the Code Compliance Department. To ensure access to healthy foods in neighborhoods designated healthy food deserts, the amendment reduces and or eliminates permit fees, updates and eases requirements for new pop-up farmers markets in the city.

Health: Access to providers
The city identified funds to establish the Near Southside Medical District ZIPZONE. The Trinity Metro ZIPZONE program is the agency’s “first mile/last mile” solution for users of public transportation. Riders can travel their “first mile” and their “last mile” from the nearest bus stop via on-demand rideshare service. The city paid its first installment invoice to Trinity Metro of the total cost of $250,000 for Near Southside.

Housing: Affordable housing incentives policy
The city’s Five-Year Consolidated Plan marks the city as achieving 43% of its goal to promote affordable housing for renters and owners through four funding streams — Community Development Block Grants, HOME Investment Partnerships, Emergency Solutions Grants and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.

While some policy, procedure and plan development tasks for affordable housing goals are currently on hold due to extensive staff time dedicated to COVID-19 pandemic-related issues, the city responded with the creation of emergency rental assistance program through new CARES Act funding.

Housing: Homebuyer assistance
The city’s Homebuyer Assistance Program provides up to $20,000 in mortgage assistance for income-eligible, first-time homebuyers within Fort Worth city limits. To date, the program reported 80% minority participation. Currently, the policy, procedure and plan development tasks for housing goals are currently on hold due to extensive staff time dedicated to COVID-19 pandemic-related issues.

Housing: Resident awareness of housing resources
The city has completed a brochure summarizing information on all city housing programs. This information will also be used on the new city website. The workshops and public meetings originally scheduled for 2020 have been postponed because of COVID-19. Staff is continuing to work on the new presentation and will roll it out when public meetings resume.

Transportation: Equity policy and five-year action plan
The Transportation and Public Works (TPW) Department will be the pilot department for the process establishing the City Equity Plan for Municipal Service Delivery. The city is finalizing a consultant contract in June 2020, to partner with Diversity and Inclusion, and Planning and Data Analytics, to create the framework that will include the City Transportation Equity Policy and Five-Year-Plan with public input.

Transportation: Funding criteria
The city has actively incorporated equity as a criteria for project evaluation in the preparation of the transportation projects considered in the 2022 Bond Program.

Transportation: After-action reviews of pedestrian and bicycle crashes
TPW collected and monitored bicycle and pedestrian crash data, observing a reduction in crashes and fatalities for both bicyclists and pedestrians between 2018 and 2019. TPW prepared a biannual report documenting trends and comparisons among peer cities.

To learn more about progress on all 22 improvement efforts, contact Chief Equity Officer and Director of the Diversity and Inclusion Department Christina Brooks by email or at 817-392-8988.

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