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All departments within the City of Asheville are operating. In the Office of Equity and Inclusion all staff are working remotely and engaged in applying an equity lens to City departments responding to COVID-19 pandemic response. Some staff are updating and formatting current equity learning opportunities and materials for a virtual platform. In addition, staff are creating new learning opportunities to continuously normalize discussions of racial equity. While working remotely, the Office of Equity and Inclusion continues to work with community partners; maintaining relationships and supporting information sharing.

This is an evolving situation. Our partners in Buncombe County are a great resource for the latest information on our community’s COVID-19 response.  To receive emergency texts directly from Buncombe County for breaking health and safety news text BCALERT on your smartphone to 888-777.  Sign up for AVL Alerts online for information from the City of Asheville.


The recently established Equity and Inclusion function is a deliberate step toward advancing equity in Asheville, with racial and social equity as top priorities.

As part of city government, the Office of Equity & Inclusion plays a unique role toward maximizing the access and opportunities that all people have to satisfy essential needs, advance their well-being and achieve their full potential. The Equity & Inclusion Director plays a key role in moving the city organization toward successful advancement of equity with Asheville through understanding, analyzing and eliminating the root causes of racial disparities, and advancing equitable policies, practices and procedures.

To advance equity and inclusion within municipal government, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) racial equity framework is being employed. The city of Asheville is a member of GARE, a national network of government jurisdictions working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all, which has developed a framework based on best practice from government entities who have been working to advance racial equity for a decade or longer. Creating an environment where a shared language and understanding of racism, implicit and explicit bias and government’s role in advancing equity is one component of the racial equity framework. Another component is creating creating equity tools; such as an equity action plan, which maps out a plan for transformational institutional change.

The newly established Human Relations Commission (HRCA) shares the values of equity and inclusion. As an advisory body to Asheville City Council, the HRCA prioritizes racial equity as it seeks to improve human relations in Asheville.

What is the difference between Equity and Equality?

Equality is about sameness; it works when conditions are the same for everyone and everyone starts from the same place.

To operate with equity means there is first an understanding that everyone does not begin from the same place. Conditions, access, and opportunities differ; therefore, what is just and fair looks different based on conditions, access and opportunities. Equity looks at outcomes.

It is important to note that the differing conditions, access, and opportunities are a result of both historical and present day, intentional and unintentional decisions that are the foundation of every system and institution in our society.

equity at ballgame

Take a look at the image above. You can see that everyone on the left, despite the sloping ground and the height of the fence, has the same sized box. This is equality. Everyone is not able to see over the fence.

Imagine that the sloping ground is Security Mapping/Redlining from the 1930’s and that the height of the fence are the negative unintended consequences of Brown vs. Board of Education. Both are representative of a series of policy decisions that have had negative effects for some members of our community that have worsened over time while simultaneously benefiting others; effects that are still being experienced today. How do we provide just and fair solutions to mitigate the decisions of the past? We do it through equity.

Everyone on the right side of the image now has what they need to enjoy the game. This is equity. Why equity?

Equity leads to what is known as the Curb-Cut Effect which is the practice of creating the conditions, access and opportunities that allow those who have been left behind to participate and contribute fully. When we embrace, model, and practice equity we strengthen both the social fabric and economic prosperity of our communities. Equity is not a zero sum game.


Equity is just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential (excerpt from Equity Manifesto)

Racial equity is the condition when racial identity no longer predicts individual or group life outcomes, and outcomes for all groups are improved.

Advancing racial equity employs analysis and strategies at the root cause of inequities and disparities; working to address disparities through changes in policy, practice and procedure. (working draft)

Inclusion is authentic and empowered participation with a true sense of belonging.

Inclusive engagement of Asheville’s residents is demonstrated through meeting community where they are and working collaboratively to ensure their voices are valued.




Related Services


Transit information including maps, schedules, fares, and service alerts

women cafe owners
Business Inclusion

The Business Inclusion Office for the City of Asheville actively seeks to identify minority and women-owned businesses for an opportunity to participate as providers of goods and services to the city.


Information on the forms of discrimination that are illegal in Asheville.

Equity and Inclusion News

City Hall photo with word grants on it
City of Asheville announces recipients of racial healing mini-grants

  The City of Asheville is pleased to announce the recipients of Asheville racial healing mini-grants. This is the second year funding has been made available.  The City received 29 applications and selected nine.  The mini-grants represent a total community investment of $40,000.    The following organizations will receive funding: Operation Gateway (Collaborative project: Workforce Development/YMI Cultural Center and [...]

Look ahead 2020 photo illustration
Look ahead: City of Asheville projects and initiatives for the new year

  Asheville residents can look upon the new year with optimism. Together, we’ve weathered a pandemic and a vaccine will be available this year. Even so, the City of Asheville’s response to COVID-19 will continue in the new year, in coordination with the state of North Carolina and Buncombe County.   Residents can look forward to advances in [...]

racial equity illustration
Asheville’s 30/60/90 Day Plan transitions to a sustained effort: Advancing Racial Equity in Asheville 

  From the start, City Manager Debra Campbell said Asheville’s 30/60/90 Day Plan was only the beginning and would serve as a foundation for a more holistic approach to incorporating racial equity into City operations. At the Dec. 8 City Council meeting, she unveiled the next step and it is intended to be a step that [...]