The United States has a long history of public efforts aimed at social and economic inequality. While many of these programs were developed at the national level, it has become increasingly evident that inequality manifests itself most clearly at the local level. Thus, many cities and counties had sought to address inequality through local policies and programs. Lessons about the better practices regarding the local pursuit of equity, however, remain difficult to come by. This report provides such lessons by summarizing the results of the Governing for Equity Project.

In this Leading Edge Research report, ICMA Research Fellow Benoy Jacob, Ph.D., highlights local governments that excel in increasing diversity and fostering inclusiveness. This report examines how American local governments—cities and counties—are actively addressing social and racial inequity in their communities. In particular, it considers the challenges and opportunities faced by public administrators when adopting an equity lens in their day-to-day operations.

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Expert Insight

Benoy Jacob, Ph.D.

Director of the Community Development Institute, Division of Extension, and Affiliated Faculty at the LaFollette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“The initiation of a change toward equity requires, first and foremost, bringing community stakeholders together around a shared vision of equity. Creating a vision for equity is critical for the initiation of equity because it formalizes the purpose of the organization in terms of equity.” 


ICMA Local Government Research Fellowship

This report was supported through ICMA’s Local Government Research Fellowship program. ICMA Research Fellows are practitioners and academics that conduct action-oriented research addressing important trends, drivers, and issues facing local governments. Their work advances ICMA’s strategic priority to provide thought leadership and resources that support members and other local government stakeholders in creating and sustaining thriving communities throughout the world. Learn more about ICMA's Local Government Research Fellowship. 

Looking for more resources from Benoy Jacob, P.h.D? Explore these selected publications: 

  • Pathways to the Making of Prosperous Smart Cities, by Kevin C. Desouza, Michael Hunter, Benoy Jacob, & Tan Yigitcanlar, PM Magazine, 2020. >> Read article
  • Advancing Social Equity: Lessons from (and for) Public Managers, by Benoy Jacob, PM Magazine, 2019. >> Read article
  • Benoy shared his prediction on performance management for 2019 for ICMA’s Predictions on Local Government from 19 Experts. >> Read more
  • Border Effects in Suburban Land Use, by Benoy Jacob & Daniel McMillen, National Tax Journal, 2015. >> Read article
  • Big Data in the Public Sector: Lessons for Practitioners and Scholars, by Desouza, K. C., & Jacob, B., Administration & Society, 2017. >> Read article
  • Beating the Clock: Strategic Management under the Threat of Direct Democracy by Ely, T. L. and Jacob, B., Public Admin Rev, 2013. >> Read article
  • Tax Competition Among Municipal Governments: Exit Versus Voice, by Hendrick, R., Yonghong Wu, & Jacob, B., Urban Affairs Review, 2007. >> Read article
  • Re‐thinking local autonomy: Perceptions from Four Rural Municipalities, by Benoy Jacob et al, The Institute of Public Administration in Canada, 2008 >> Read article