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Ramsey County (MN), where BI has worked since 2005, has been journeying with us toward system transformation that transcends status quo, “race-neutral” approaches, tools, and technologies. We’ve done this as a Learning Community, in collaborative exploration of how racial hierarchy in the human service administration of justice and provision of human services perpetuates racial and ethnic disparities. A diverse group of public servants from some of the County’s most central departments (i.e., Public Health, Social Services, Public Safety, Housing and Economic Development, and Attorney’s Office), in partnership with community, joined us in this pioneering work when others in the national justice network, including field practitioners and philanthropic entities, would not.

Through a collaborative cross-sector process of building awareness around structural racism, analyzing data, and prioritizing community voice, the Learning Community made explicit steps toward institutionalizing values that support well-being for everyone in the community, especially community members of color.

The Path to Transformation: Structural Well-Being in Ramsey County, MN Case Study, released in spring 2023, documents the history, lessons, and future direction of this immense undertaking. To build upon this, BI is now working with a cohort of County leaders comprising the second official Learning Community. Our expectation for the spirit of this effort—in fact, all our efforts—is summed up in the final sentence of The Path to Transformation: “Being brave enough to dare and devote ourselves to change comes easier. Together.”