2018 All-America City Finalist – Tacoma, WA

Application Summary for the All-America City Awards:

Faced with budget restraints in 2013-14, the City of Tacoma began a process with its biennial budget of community education and input.

Through community meetings, festivals and other means, thousands of residents gave input on the budget, which was followed by the adoption of a ten-year Tacoma 2025 master plan, which also had the input of many residents from all segments of the community. Tacoma has extended this input philosophy into its community redevelopment efforts, including a revitalization project in the Lincoln District, in which various forms of technology were used to reach a wide diversity of residents and businesses.

Three project examples showing how this community leverages civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues:


1.) Project PEACE
In 2015 a group of leaders from the African-American community in Tacoma, concerned that racial tensions related to policing in other parts of the country could cause problems in Tacoma, worked with the local newspaper to convene a community-wide meeting. The gathering, which focused on relationships between law enforcement and people of color, led to the formation of Project PEACE (Partnering for Equity and Community Engagement).

The core goal of Project PEACE is to bring together city and community leaders to “proactively address historical and present-day sources and manifestations of community distrust, anger and grief.” Founders set out with the hope that the project could help build trust between law enforcement and the community, while at the same time reducing crime. Ideas for how this could happen were gathered in six community meetings in which over 800 people participated, followed by the creation of a report that laid out goals for the future.

The Tacoma Police Department participated in Project PEACE meetings and began a set of initiatives to respond to this process, including:

  • expanded implicit bias training,
  • collaboration with high risk and immigrant communities to build trust,
  • an annual city survey to gauge community trust,
  • expansion of daily contacts with community members that are not related to a police call and
  • improved hiring practices.

Monitoring of the implementation of these goals and PEACE objectives is an ongoing task of the community-based PEACE Executive Committee.

More information: Project PEACE


2.) Project Latino Town Hall
While Tacoma-Pierce County is only 10% Latino, this population is growing, with many foreign-born residents. In late 2015 a group of Latino activists worked with the City to hold a Latino Roundtable, which was attended by 40 people. One of the outcomes of the roundtable was to organize two Latino Town Halls in 2016, which attracted more than 250 attendees. Much of the discussion at the town halls centered around the lack of resources and services for the Latino community and the lack of a unifying agency.

As a result of the Latino Town Halls, organizers formed their own group to continue to work towards the goals of the town halls, Latinos Unidos del South Sound. The group has a dedicated liaison with the Tacoma City Manager’s Office to serve as a conduit between the Latino Community and the City. Another result of the town halls was an action by the Tacoma City Council in late 2017 to create the Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

The goal of the new commission, which is currently in formation, is to work with immigrant and refugee communities to identify needs and help achieve positive outcomes. The commission will study issues affecting immigrant and refugee communities and make recommendations to policy makers. Upcoming projects include the establishment of a citywide language access policy and recommendations for improving access to English language programs and capitalizing on the rich linguistic resources that immigrants and refugees bring to the community.

More information: Latino Town Hall


3.) Health in All Policies
In 2016, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s Board of Health passed a Health in All Policies resolution directing the agency to consider health in all their policies. Agency staff now use a health lens analysis tool for all actions of the Board of Health and department.

Later, in December 2016, the City of Tacoma considered and adopted a Health and Equity in All Policies resolution, becoming the first city in Pierce County to do so. The resolution directs the City to consider health and equity in all their policies and decisions. As a result, health equity has been included as an aspect of the strategic plan, Tacoma 2025, and many other city functions and activities.

The Health and Equity in All Policies resolution led to the creation of a Health and Equity Policy Analysis Tool, which has resulted in policymaking that is more equitable regarding the health of affected communities. The tool also encourages policymakers and agency members to consult with affected communities prior to adopting new policies or programs. The tool encourages managers to examine the social, economic, and environmental costs and benefits of each action, helping to ensure equitable conditions for all populations.

More information: Your Health in Pierce County

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