ABAG-MTC Equity Platform

Infinity loop of the Equity Platform indicating how the Pillars work together

ABAG-MTC Equity Platform

At the Association of Bay Area Governments, equity means “inclusion into a Bay Area where everyone can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.” The agency strives to advance equity through carefully considered investments and policies that can support historically underserved and systemically marginalized groups, including people with low incomes and communities of color.

By setting policies and delivering programs, holding ourselves accountable to data-backed results, and taking real actions, ABAG aims to contribute to creating a Bay Area where everyone can thrive.

ABAG’s driving focus is expanding mobility and access to opportunity for all. A fairer system must be nurtured and grown — it's not a one-time investment. We must work together to identify gaps and fill them equitably moving forward.

What is the Equity Platform?

The Equity Platform is meant to address equity challenges and inform how ABAG approaches complex systems and environments. The Equity Platform is a process and practice to:

  • Create designs and solutions that focus on affected communities
  • Increase opportunity for those people most affected by exclusion
  • Shift decision-making power to the people who are affected by policies
  • Invest in training and education to advance goals for fairness and inclusion

The Equity Platform supports flexible processes and offers a set of tools and habits that can be practiced daily. It can be used in a variety of ways, including:

  • Strategic planning and investment: Focus on frontline communities
  • Community-driven design: Tap the experience and expertise of local communities to illuminate all design phases
  • Community engagement: Invest resources and move at the speed of trust to ensure historically underrepresented communities can meaningfully influence decision-making
  • Project delivery: Complete promised projects that reflect community input
  • Communications & marketing: Set up regular, ongoing, varied and culturally specific communications to reach community members at their convenience
  • Project evaluation: Use evidence-based, data-driven research that values both lived experience and technical results

Equity Platform Beliefs

At the core of the Equity Platform are a set of beliefs:

  • Racism is real, and must be acknowledged and dismantled
  • Designing for equity must start at the community level
  • Equity is intersectional

How Does the Equity Platform Work?

The Equity Platform, at its core, is grounded by a set of Equity Pillars:

  • Listen & Learn
  • Define & Measure
  • Focus & Deliver
  • Train & Grow

Watch former Executive Director Therese McMillan’s presentation on the Equity Platform to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on October 23, 2019.

Accessibility, Culture, and Racial Equity

In July 2022, ABAG/MTC established its Office of Accessibility, Culture, and Racial Equity (ACRE) to assist, track and resource the agency’s equity activities across all departments. 

Equity Consultant Bench

ABAG/MTC developed an on-call Equity Consultant Bench as part of the agency’s commitment to advance equity internally and throughout the Bay Area. The Equity Bench intentionally adopted “cooperative use” language to allow other entities to leverage ABAG’s contracting process to satisfy contracting and procurement standards for public agencies. Please use this catalog to familiarize yourself with the range of qualified firms with demonstrated capacity to help advance your agency’s equity efforts.

Equity Platform Pillars

Listen & Learn

Recognizing both the rights and wrongs of the past can help chart the course for a better future.

ABAG’s public engagement program emphasizes listening to residents, advisory committees and local governments to identify challenges and deliver solutions.

Define & Measure

We value what we measure, and we measure what we value. Using success metrics advances transparency and accountability, and new data will signal whether or not our policies are succeeding.

Focus & Deliver

To advance equity, ABAG works with partners across sectors such as health, social services, faith-based groups, and civic and community groups. ABAG acknowledges that to solve the Bay Area’s layered, multi-sector challenges, we must partner with experts in other fields. Together, we will share knowledge and make investment decisions based on that information.

Train & Grow

The MTC equity agenda requires “100% ownership throughout the agency,” with ongoing training starting in two important areas:

  1. Methods to evaluate equity (including data collection, measurement and analysis)
  2. Ways to effectively communicate, build trusted relationships and partner with Equity Priority Communities

MTC’s Equity Platform is designed for continual evolution and improvement — learning is always ongoing.

Equity & Accessibility

Since the early 2000s, ABAG/MTC has invested nearly $300 million partnering with county transportation agencies, transit agencies, and human and social service providers to deliver projects that improve mobility for people with low incomes, seniors and people with disabilities.  These policies and programs were the result of the Commission’s, transit operators’ and advocacy groups’ early commitment to advancing Access, Equity & Mobility.

Contact ABAG

Email info@bayareametro.gov with any questions or suggestions you have to help increase equity in the Bay Area.