We translate the ideas of communities and their advocates into meaningful systems change.

Working with visionary clients — from grassroots activists to elected city and county leaders — HR&A’s Inclusive Cities Practice centers racial equity and economic justice in economic development, policy, and planning. Leveraging analytic rigor and meaningful community engagement, the practice works with partners inside and outside of government to disrupt the traditional processes of economic development, build greater political power for marginalized communities, increase accountability of local governments, and institutionalize mechanisms for more just and equitable cities.


America’s economic and racial disparities are found in our neighborhoods, institutions, policies, and practices. Cities are theaters for the ways that class, race, and geography intersect — often to the exclusion of many of the communities that make them vibrant.


To support our partners in promoting equity and inclusion, the Inclusive Cities practice focuses in four areas:


Supporting Visionary Leaders

We support the leaders of cities and counties, philanthropies, and nonprofit organizations to seize political opportunities and translate them into impact and sustained change.

Centering Equity in Economic Development

Our analysis and recommendations help clients to increase wealth generation and opportunity for historically marginalized communities, and our projects help to increase the capacity of community activists and advocates to understand and then co-opt the tools of economic development for equitable change.

Building Greater Political Power for Marginalized Communities

We work with communities so they can be the most effective at using the levers available to them to make more equitable projects, neighborhoods, and cities.

Reworking the Systems and Structures that Determine how People Fare

HR&A is on the leading edge of a national trend toward embedding equity and anti-racism into how cities make decisions, structure their budgets, and deliver services. In this work, we pay close attention to how we can divest from systems that have created structural inequities, and how we can build instead new systems and approaches that support every person’s full participation in society.

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HR&A helps our clients with a focus on three key areas of change


Craft new programs and policies that expand education, workforce, and other opportunities, and see them through launch.

Design plans for inclusive development at the neighborhood and citywide level, considering inclusionary zoning, affordable housing, and other strategies to advance equity.

Guide development projects to maximize community benefits while navigating local market context.

Support change management and capacity building for agencies and institutions that play a critical role in cities, including nonprofits and government.

Frame the full range of quantitative and qualitative project benefits, which can include economic and fiscal impacts and other benefits that align with local stakeholder goals.

Communicate with key political, business, and community stakeholders to gather insights that may shape project visioning and program development, and to convey the project proposal and benefits.


Equitable Development Plan & Real Estate Impact Study for Harold Simmons Park

Dallas, TX

The Trinity Park Conservancy is committed to creating a park that faces the challenges head on of creating a stronger, more just city. To facilitate equitable development of the new Harold Simmons Park and the surrounding local neighborhoods, the Conservancy engaged HR&A to recommend implementable strategies to leverage the $150M park investment to benefit the diversity of neighboring communities and create a model for equitable park and infrastructure development. Learn More →

Grand Rapids Equitable Economic Development and Mobility Strategic Plan

Grand Rapids, MI

Driven by expansions in the healthcare and manufacturing industries, the Grand Rapids economy grew significantly following the recession. However, deep-seated racial and neighborhood-level disparities in access to economic opportunity and reliable and safe transportation to good jobs has prevented this prosperity from reaching everyone. To address these challenges, HR&A led the development of a strategic roadmap to achieve citywide equitable economic development and mobility. Learn More →

Blueprint for Baltimore

Baltimore, MD

For Open Society Institute – Baltimore and in partnership with five community organizations in Baltimore, HR&A designed and managed the implementation of Blueprint for Baltimore, the largest issue-oriented survey in Baltimore’s history. The survey reached over 5,000 people and has produced reliable data on the shared priorities across Baltimore’s diverse communities for incoming leadership.
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Pittsburgh Economic Justice Circle

Pittsburgh, PA

In May 2019, HR&A Advisors began supporting the grassroots coalition Pittsburgh Economic Justice Circle (EJC) in developing a shared agenda for equitable funding, policy, and practices related to economic development in the city of Pittsburgh. HR&A’s analysis supported the launch of the EJC’s first public campaign calling for Transparency, Equity, Accountability, and Community Voice. The budget platform, which provides recommendations to the City government and its authorities, garnered the supported of over 20 organizations and led to actions at the FY 2020 budget hearings.
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Pittsburgh Parks Economic Analysis and Equity Assessment

Pittsburgh, PA

For the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC), HR&A developed a Benefits Cases for the Restoring Pittsburgh Parks Initiative based on the PPC’s equitable investment strategy, which prioritizes investment in parks and neighborhoods in need. The objective of the study was to garner support for a ballot initiative that would raise property taxes with the funds dedicated to implementation of the equitable investment strategy. HR&A described how investments can benefit park operations, career development, public health, environmental impact, and more. In November 2019, Pittsburgh’s voters agreed to co-fund the first six years of the equitable investment strategy.
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Inclusive Incentive Strategy for Indianapolis

Indianapolis, IN

The Indy Chamber engaged HR&A to evaluate its existing economic incentive programs and develop recommendations to re-orient programs in service of supporting inclusive growth and broadening access to opportunity. As part of the roadmap we created for the Chamber, we established metrics and updated evaluation tools to guide the Chamber and its partners in ensuring incentive programs are positioned to contribute to improved economic mobility, broader access to opportunity, and inclusive growth in Indianapolis.
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Multifamily Affordable Housing Strategy for the City of Detroit

Detroit, MI

To guide the City of Detroit’s future initiatives related to affordable housing development and preservation, inclusive growth, homelessness, and housing development in priority planning areas of the city, HR&A worked closely with the City to develop Detroit’s Multifamily Affordable Housing Strategy, which provides a blueprint for related City policy, driving toward the goal of preserving and developing 12,000 multifamily affordable units by 2023.
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OneNYC 2050 Project Management & Advisory

New York, NY

For the New York City Mayor’s Office, HR&A led the development of “OneNYC 2050,” a long-term blueprint for tackling New York’s most pressing challenges, including rising unaffordability, economic inequality, and climate change. HR&A’s data analysis, policy research, work with City agencies, and public engagement campaign shaped 30 strategic initiatives to grow the economy, connect workers to well-paying jobs, deliver affordable housing, ensure economic security for families, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2040, including clear targets for implementation. Mayor de Blasio launched OneNYC 2050 on Earth Day 2019, and the City subsequently released a 10-year $117 billion capital strategy aligned with OneNYC 2050 initiatives.
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Interested in creating a more equitable and inclusive city? Email us to learn more about our strategies for success.