A U.S. Conference of Mayors/Target Opportunity
THE PROGRAM — The U.S. Conference of Mayors has long been recognized for its commitment to both police reform and civil rights and for its leadership through the years in bringing mayors and police chiefs together in working partnerships to strengthen police-community relations and build trust between police departments and the communities they serve. Target has long been committed to creating and maintaining strong, healthy and safe communities, and advancing social justice and racial equity.
On January 21, in the opening session of the 2021 Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Laysha Ward, Executive Vice President & Chief External Engagement Officer for the Target Corporation, announced the creation of a two-year, $700,000 Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant Program, a national partnership between the Conference of Mayors and Target aimed at identifying, supporting and promoting police policies and practices in cities shown to be most effective in advancing the goal of justice for all residents.
Across the country, increasing numbers of law enforcement agencies are using co-responder models for service calls involving persons appearing to be mentally ill, substance abusers, or homeless; mandatory officer training that covers implicit bias, discrimination, and related issues; community policing efforts that target specific community needs, including those of young people, immigrants, and homeless people; and policies to increase transparency and officer accountability. These are examples of the kinds of practices cities are employing today that this grant program seeks to recognize, support and promote.
THE AWARDS — To launch this competitive grant award program, the Conference is now inviting all members, including service members, to submit descriptions of police reform policies and/or initiatives that have been implemented and are showing evidence of success in achieving greater racial justice in their cities.
A panel of judges, to include former mayors and recognized policing and racial justice experts, will identify those to receive the monetary awards that will be used to advance the police reform and racial justice work that is underway in their cities. In both 2021 and 2022, a grant award will be made in each of three population categories:
- $175,000 to one city of 250,000 residents or more
- $100,000 to one city in the 100,000 – 250,000 population range
- $75,000 to one city with up to 100,000 residents
The 2021 grant award in each of the population categories will be presented to the mayors of the winning cities during the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Conference, planned for mid-June in Austin. The second year of the grant program will again provide $350,000 in grants to cities and will be launched by the Conference in its 2022 Winter Meeting.
THE APPLICATION — Applications for grants must include detailed narrative descriptions of the policy and/or initiative for which the grant award is being sought. These narratives must cover:
- the stated objectives of the policy/initiative, general and specific, as appropriate;
- whether the policy/initiative is citywide or targeted to specific communities;
- the evidence of the problem(s) that prompted the policies implemented or the actions taken;
- the components of the required actions, including dedication of police personnel and resources in both preparation and operation;
- the period of time in which the actions have been underway;
- the evidence of the impact of the policy/initiative and related actions, to include any internal or external evaluations, statistical evidence, feedback from communities, etc.;
- other factors believed by the applicant to be relevant in the judging of the policy/initiative being proposed for an award.
POLICIES/INITIATIVES ON USCM WEBSITE — A notable feature of this grant program is that the detailed descriptions of the police reforms and their impact on racial justice that are the basis for cities’ applications for awards will be posted on the Conference of Mayors website in order for all mayors to have access to information on what their colleagues across the country have determined to be effective reforms that are worthy of being replicated. These best practices will be made available on two separate webpages previously established by the Conference:
- In 2018, for the Mayors and Business Leaders Center for Compassionate and Equitable Cities, which was created in the wake of, and in response to, the violent and deadly White supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017; the Center supports Conference efforts to make all cities more equitable, inclusive and compassionate.
- In 2020, for the Working Group on Police Reform and Racial Justice, which was created in response to the urgent need to reset the relationship between police and city residents required to bring about lasting change that will improve public safety and foster a greater sense of security in all communities. The Working Group developed a comprehensive set of recommendations for police reform that has been adopted by the Conference of Mayors as policy and posted on the webpage.