Defining Regional Equity

We all have a shared fate and a shared responsibility —as individuals within a community and communities within society. Our region’s future depends on the success of all of its populations, but disparities in the distribution of resources and opportunities create imbalances that disadvantage some communities and advantage others. To create a prosperous region, we must ensure that everyone in our region benefits from the opportunities the region provides so that we are all able to thrive.

Building an equitable region will benefit us all by creating a stronger, healthier, and more sustainable community. Equity is not just a moral imperative – it is an economic one. As our region becomes more racially, ethnically, and age-diverse, our shared prosperity depends on our ability to create conditions that will allow everyone to flourish. Just as the sustainability of our economy depends on a regional strategy, our efforts to increase equity must also be regional in scope. 

In an equitable region:

  • All people have access to the resources necessary for meeting their basic needs and advancing their health and well-being. 
  • All people have the power to shape the future of their communities through public decision-making processes that are transparent, inclusive, and engage the community as full partners.
  • All communities experience the benefits and share the costs of growth and change. 
  • All people are able and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential and realize their vision for success.

Inequities are not random; they are the results of past and current decisions, and they can be changed.  Creating an equitable region requires the intentional examination of policies and practices (both past and present) that, even if they have the appearance of fairness, may, in effect, serve as barriers that perpetuate disparities.  Working toward equity requires the prioritization of policies, infrastructure, and investments to ensure that all people and communities can thrive -- regardless of race, ethnicity, income, age, gender, language, sexual orientation, ability, health status and other markers of identity.


This updated definition of regional equity was developed by the Coalition for a Livable Future and the Regional Equity Atlas 2.0 Advisory Committee. It reflects the input we heard from hundreds of stakeholders across the region through an extensive engagement process during the planning stages of the Atlas 2.0 project. It also builds on the work of several local and national partner organizations.

We are indebted to the following organizations for providing some of the language and concepts that we have incorporated into this definition: Northwest Health Foundation, Policy Link, Kirwan Institute, King County, Clark County Public Health, Multnomah County Health Equity Initiative, Coalition of Communities of Color, Opportunity Agenda, STAR Community Index, Greater Portland Pulse, and Portland Plan.

We are also grateful for the leadership and contributions of our Advisory Committee members, who are listed on our Acknowledgements page.

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