Community Benefits Agreements: A Tool for Inclusive and Equitable Development

Athena Nicole Last, The Real Deal Press

For several decades communities, including in Cleveland, have organized for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)1 in labor, entrepreneurship, and development. These efforts date back to abolitionist movements – protests to end slavery – and the Civil Rights Movement, during the 1950s – 1960s, where citizens organized to end Jim Crow laws in the South and de jure segregation2 across the United States.

Citizens also organized for community engagement in urban planning decisions due to low-income communities and communities of color experiencing little benefit and often even negative outcomes (e.g., displacement and neighborhood demolition) from top-down urban planning programs and practices, such as urban renewal.

These movements led to the government creating legislation that prohibits discrimination and promotes equal rights for all citizens regardless of race/ethnicity

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