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City Give Update on 3-Phase Plan to Implement RASE Commission Recommendations

Patti Singer

The city is nearing the end of the first of its three-phase of its response to the report from the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity.

The report, released in mid-March, identified dozens of areas where the governments of Rochester and Monroe County and businesses, educational institutions and other entities can and must do better at creating equitable opportunity.

Since then, the city has been reviewing the principles of the report – identifying which recommendations fall under its purview, which come under the auspices of the county, which ones they share and where there are gaps.

The review is expected to be completed by June 30, said Dr. Cephas Archie, the city’s chief equity officer and liaison to the RASE commission.

In Phase 2, the city will “request, encourage and invite” non-governmental organizations to respond as appropriate to recommendations that don’t fall strictly under government, Archie said. That phase runs from July 1 to Sept. 30.

Phase 3 is akin to succession planning, in which a RASE Council – with some members of the original commission — will be formed to monitor the pace of implementation, set up a reporting process and make sure the community can provide feedback on progress. This phase runs from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.

Archie said a dashboard will be developed to foster accountability so the public can follow implementation of the recommendations.

“I don’t do initiatives,” said Archie, who holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership. “Which means you’re implementing something that’s only for a moment in time, that has a start and end date that does not lead into systemic change.”

Cephas Archie spoke at a news conference in 2020 about the RASE commission. File photo

He said the recommendations are being woven into the city’s strategic plan so they are sustained over time. “It demonstrates our commitment to not a one-time initiative, not a check box that we’re meeting but embedding these things into our governing documents of how we work.”

The city released an update June 18 on its progress in digesting the 271-page RASE report An emailed question about Monroe County’s approach was sent to spokespeople for County Executive Adam Bello.

The city has allocated $1 million to implementing recommendations of the RASE commission. “I don’t want people to believe that’s the end all be all,” Archie said.

He said he hadn’t yet spoken to Mayor Lovely Warren about how the most recent round of COVID-19 funds could be used to further the recommendations.

“What we’re looking at is not just this isolated moment but using this report as an overall movement so that it changes how we do business going forward.”

To that end, Archie said it’s imperative for entities that traditionally took on the same challenges independently decide it’s time to work together.

“This is where we have to continue to push through,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it’s always going to be comfortable. … It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have differences of opinion along the way. But there’s more to us than our differences. There are things we can agree on. …That’s what diversity is about, not just saying this is what I think only. But it’s also saying where can we find alignment.”