As a policy change organization, we use our influence to create change.
Instilling equity practices internally at MPC
Our commitment to racial equity means nothing if we don’t have difficult internal conversations that lead to change. Members of MPC’s Equity Committee developed a customized framework for implementing Anti Racism Anti Oppression practices within our institution, guided by Board equity advisors and by assistance from Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism (Chicago ROAR).
Battling our region’s lead pipe problem
Chicago has more lead service lines than any other city in America, and lead pipes are a frightening and costly problem in communities across Illinois. Lead exposure can lower children’s IQs, increase attention-related behavior problems, reduce growth and hearing, and create a lifetime of negative health repercussions. Through MPC’s advocacy for a statewide solution to lead service lines, we are working with partners across Illinois to ensure that every municipality has the resources needed to replace every lead service line—the only equitable solution. We’re working with communities to prioritize hard-hit areas and vulnerable populations, such as schools and daycares. And we’re working with policy makers to ensure that Black and Brown communities benefit from the good jobs that lead service line replacement will create.
Raising our voice for community benefit after COVID-19
It’s impossible to overstate how dramatically the pandemic has upended our lives. In the face of upheaval, MPC leaders have worked to protect our region’s residents and institutions, such as folks struggling to make rent as their jobs are swept from beneath their feet. We’ve advocated for changes that protect renters from an “Eviction Cliff.” We’ve also shaped media coverage through advising the monthly Crain’s Chicago Business “Forum” and writing for venues like the Chicago Sun-Times to ensure that Chicagoland’s public transportation network survives a “carpocalypse.” When the going gets tough, it’s more important than ever to fight for the assets that help everyone thrive.
Shining a light on the inequities of remote learning, which inspired a $50M fund to connect students
Did you know that one in five Black or Latinx learners lack home access to broadband in Chicago? In April, we published findings with Kids First Chicago revealing that children of color are less likely to have the internet or the connected devices at home that are necessary for remote learning. In June, Mayor Lori Lightfoot raised $50 million from business and philanthropy leaders for “Chicago Connected,” an effort that provides free, high-speed internet access for four years to Chicago Public Schools learners, possibly the nation’s largest high-speed internet connection effort. A flurry of news stories cited our research, a catalyst for actionable change that will help students in homes across the city.
Building a path forward for equitable transit-oriented development
In 2013, the City of Chicago passed an ordinance designed to promote development near transit, but in practice, these zoning reforms heavily and inequitably benefitted Chicago’s North and Northwest sides. In an effort that spanned two mayoral administrations, 18 months, over 80 voices, and a pandemic, MPC joined Elevated Chicago partners in advocating for more equitable transit-oriented development (ETOD). The result? The City of Chicago’s first-ever ETOD plan, released in September 2020, a step toward addressing our public health, racial justice, and climate change crises through smart development around transit hubs.
The exhaustion of 2020 caused many to ask, “How much worse can things get?” As an independent policy change organization, the Metropolitan Planning Council instead focuses on how much better things can be. Thank you for being there, for supporting our work, for inching us closer to a more equitable, more joyful future.