HISTORY. Race Forward was founded by Gary Delgado as the Applied Research Center (ARC) in 1981. In 1998, it began publishing the award-winning Colorlines magazine, whose goal was to popularize racial justice narratives and center the people of color who fought for them. ARC changed its name to Race Forward in 2013. In 2017, it merged with the Center for Social Inclusion, which had been founded in 2001 by Maya Wiley and Jocelyn Sargent and whose flagship operation was the Government Alliance for Race and Equity. Race Forward bridges the efforts of analysts, activists, community groups, government, and national organizations to develop and implement policy ideas that advance racial equity.
Race Forward develops and shares tools to advance narrative and cultural power, equity, and justice for communities of color. We develop and implement institutional and sectoral change strategies to operationalize structural racial equity. We engage governmental structures, providing training, materials, and support to hundreds of member governmental agencies nationwide that have made a commitment to advancing racial equity. In toto, we mobilize, build skills, develop leaders, build alliances, frame issues, and construct messages, and provide training to advance racial equity solutions.
MISSION. Race Forward catalyzes movement building for racial justice. In partnership with communities, organizations, and sectors, we build strategies to advance racial justice in our policies, institutions, and culture.
VISION. We imagine a just, multiracial democratic society free from oppression and exploitation, in which people of color thrive with power and purpose.
PURPOSE. The American Dream is not a dream for everyone. The disproportionate and ongoing impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the health and economic livelihoods of communities of color; police violence that continues to kill unarmed Black people; revived White nationalism that has led to attacks on Asian, Muslim, Arab, and Jewish people; institutionalized efforts to undermine voting rights and the concept of fair and free elections; and the rise of efforts to restrict the very mention of race and its role in America’s history demonstrate how much of a nightmare that dream can be for people of color. All of these ills, and many more, are insidious legacies of the implicit biases and institutional, structural, and operational racism, and intentional racism that corrodes our society.
Confronting those issues and restoring our progress toward that “more perfect union” requires the direct involvement of local and regional governments, the concerted action of grassroots communities of color and the organizations that serve them, and sincere, authentic engagement between the two that centers the lives and value of people of color. Such engagement will encourage innovative policies and practices that lead to racial equity, while developing larger narratives about race and the potential for a multiracial democracy in our country.
Race Forward builds leadership through multi-racial coalition building, convenings, leadership development, and trainings. We develop and share tools to advance narrative and cultural power, narrative and cultural equity, and narrative and cultural justice for communities of color and our shared liberation. We develop and implement institutional and sectoral change strategies to operationalize structural racial equity. We do this through our Theory of Change, which mobilizes the resources of our Departments to catalyze and support communities, government, philanthropy, and other institutions to achieve racial equity.
Our Theory of Change calls for us to:
Grow Power: We need connected and aligned networks of people, organizations, and movements to build the collective power (economic, social, political etc.) necessary to counter structural racism and steward transformative solutions for racial justice.
Transform Culture: We must harness the power of narrative, arts, and culture to assert the full humanity of communities of color, challenge racist ideologies that fuel structural racism, and envision a more just and equitable future.
Transform Policy: We must position communities of color and other historically oppressed communities as leaders and decision-makers in the policy-making process in order to create racially equitable policies at all levels.
Transform Institutions/Sectors: Institutions across multiple sectors of society (e.g., government, philanthropy, non-profit, private, etc.) must operationalize racial equity in their policies, practices, programs, and products.
We mobilize our organization’s five programmatic departments (Narrative Arts and Culture, Movement Capacity Building, Strategic Communications and Public Engagement, Institutional and Sectoral Change, Applied Research), three cross-cutting Initiatives (Place Based, Facing Race, Mass Freedom), and two administrative support operations (Development/Strategic Partnerships and Finance/Administration) to activate this theory by developing policies that advance racial equity; building leadership capacity through multi-racial collaborations; building narrative power, narrative equity, and narrative justice for communities of color; and implementing institutional and sectoral change strategies to operationalize structural racial equity.