History of Social Justice and Racial Equity Initiative

In June 2012, the Iowa City City Council established the Diversity Committee which was formulated to serve as an ad hoc council committee to review issues relating to diversity within the City organization. The committee reviewed the policies, practices and procedures within the Iowa City Police Department and the Transportation Services Department with the intent to provide a set of recommendations to the City Council on diversity-related matters. In March 2013, the Diversity Committee supplied the City Council and City staff with their recommendations. City staff developed an implementation form and reporting process designed to incorporate recommendations from both the Diversity Committee and City staff. The City Manager initiated a Diversity Task force and appointed an Equity Director to ensure the recommendations are implemented and in compliance with the goals of the City Council. The Council passed a resolution supporting various recommendations from City staff and the Diversity Committee.

Council Resolution of 2013 Approving Staff Recommendations for Implementation
of Various Recommendations by the Ad Hoc Diversity Committee

Council Resolution approving 2015 Equity Action Plan and the Five Areas of Focus

Social Justice and Racial Equity Grant (SJRE)

The SJRE grant lists six priority service areas: Education, Building Community, Housing, Criminal Justice, Health, and Employment. The Human Rights Commission reviews applications then forwards its recommendations to the City Council for review and approval. Organizations whose programs, services or activities address one or more of these priorities will be considered first for funding. In fiscal year 2021, the City Council approved $75,000 for the grant. Grant applications will be available from Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 through Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. 

PowerPoint Presentation from Social Justice & Racial Equity Informational Session held on November 18, 2019.

Submissions for the Social Justice and Racial Equity Grant Fiscal Year 2019.

Grant Allocations and Summary for Fiscal Year 2020

City Council Resolutions in Support of Inclusive, Diverse and Safe Communities

Resolution Reaffirming the City of Iowa City Law Enforcement Non-Discrimination Policy

Resolution Rejecting Acts of Intimidation and Supporting a Diverse and Safe Community

Resolution Reaffirming the Public Safety Function of Local Law Enforcement

Resolución Reafirmando la Función de Seguridad Pública de la Policía Local

قرار وإذ تؤكد من جديد وظيفة السلامة العامة من إنفاذ القانون المحلية


Résolution réaffirmant la fonction de sécurité publique de l'application de la loi locale

Resolution Reaffirmming the City of Iowa City Law Enforcement Non-Discrimination Policy


قرار إعادة تأكيد سياسة عدم التمييز لإنفاذ قانون مدينة إيوا سيتي



Iowa City Police Traffic Study

Dr. Christopher Barnum, Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice and Director of Graduate Studies Masters in Criminal Justice at St. Ambrose University, has been studying Iowa City Police Department traffic stop data from the years of 2005-2007, 2010 to present.

Learn more about the study.

State of Iowa Cities Reforms on Black Lives Matter

Social Justice and Racial Equity Quarterly Updates

The Social Justice and Racial Equity Quarterly Updates supplies the public with up-to-date information regarding City staff's work on social justice and racial equity. 

Social Justice and Racial Equity 1st Quarter Update for 2019
Social Justice and Racial Equity 2nd Quarter Update for 2019
Social Justice and Racial Equity 3rd Quarter Update 2019
Social Justice and Racial Equity 4th Quarter Update 2019
Social Justice and Racial Equity 1st Quarter Update 2020
Social Justice and Racial Equity 2nd Quarter Update 2020

The Lens

The Lens, a newsletter that spotlights Social Justice and Racial Equity Initiatives in Iowa City. Check our the latest issue

August 2019
September 2019
October 2019
November 2019
January 2020
February 2020
March 2020
April 2020
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020
September 2020

Equity Director

Stefanie Bowers was appointed by the City Manager in 2012. The Equity Director serves as adviser to the City Manager on issues of equity & inclusion, and the LGBTQ Liaison to the City Manager's Office. Specifically, she focuses on providing strategies, planning, facilitation, and development of government work on racial equity and engagement for the present and long term. Her work also includes enforcement and protection of Iowa City’s Human Rights Ordinance. She also publishing the monthly newsletter on social justice and racial equity (The Lens), the quarterly report, and the annual report on racial equity.

City Manager's Roundtable

Created by the City Manager, the Roundtable meets bi-monthly to discuss City efforts at eliminating racial disparities. The Roundtable is made up of chairs and directors of community organizations and City staff.  

Picture of members of roundtable at a table.

Annual Racial Equity Report

The Racial Equity Report Card is a way for the City to measure its progress as it relates to improvements for communities of color. The report published since 2014, provides the yearly racial demographics for police charges against youth and adults, the racial demographics of City staff, and inclusiveness as measured by the number of complaints of discrimination by race. 

Preserving Black History in Iowa City: Tate Arms and the Iowa Federation Home

In 2016, the City of Iowa City applied for and received an African American Civil Rights Grant from the National Park Service for a two-part project. The first was to nominate two buildings in Iowa City associated with African American housing equity during the Civil Rights Era to the National Register of Historic Places. The second was to create educational signage for these two buildings, as well as provide print and digital media educational materials. The two buildings are the Iowa Federation Home, located at 942 Iowa Avenue, and Tate Arms, located at 914 S. Dubuque Street. Learn more

Government Alliance for Race and Equity (GARE) 

The City of Iowa City is a part of the Government Alliance for Race and Equity (GARE). The City joined in 2015, making it the second City in Iowa to become a member. GARE is a national network of government working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. Across the country, governmental jurisdictions are:

  • Making a commitment to achieving racial equity
  • Focusing on the power and influence of their own institutions, and
  • Working in partnership with others

When this occurs, significant leverage and expansion opportunities emerge, setting the stage for the achievement of racial equity in our communities. More information about GARE is available at this link. For Iowa City Profile visit click here. To see who else is a member of GARE view this map.

Advancing Racial Equity
Key Steps to Inclusive Public Engagement