What Is The Equity and Empowerment Lens?  E & E Lens 5 P's

The Equity and Empowerment Lens (with a racial justice focus) is a transformative quality improvement tool used to improve planning, decision-making, and resource allocation leading to more racially equitable policies and programs. At its core, it is a set of principles, reflective questions, and processes that focuses at the individual, institutional, and systemic levels by:

  • deconstructing what is not working around racial equity;
  • reconstructing and supporting what is working;
  • shifting the way we make decisions and think about this work; and
  • healing and transforming our structures, our environments, and ourselves.

What we mean by racial equity

  • Fair and just distribution of resources and opportunities for individuals, culturally specific business and CBOs and economic and social systems that are sustainable and that sustain all people ;
  • Meaningful engagement of communities of color in planning, decision making and evaluation that support shifts in perception, paradigm, and demonstrated values;
  • Authentically embodying and leading with racial equity and empowerment principles (including transformative and non-traumatizing practices) in planning, decision-making, implementation, and evaluation; and
  • Bold and courageous long term commitment to unearthing racism’s root causes and addressing barriers to racial equity in and between individuals, institutions and systems.  

Why our County prioritizes this work

Key Multnomah County values are social justice and sustainability. This work moves these values into action. We have reams of data telling us that outcomes in our county for people of color are worse than for our white counterparts. We have enormous amounts of community support to do this work meaningfully, and to go after the root causes of these inequities by naming and addressing racism in all of its forms. We have a public commitment to make this county a beneficial place for all to live, and to do that, we must engage and improve the lives of our communities most affected by inequities.

We also value the contribution we can make regionally, nationally, and internationally, and see ourselves and our populations as part of a global community. We are a founding member of the Governing for Racial Equity Network, and are honored to be working alongside leaders working for the City of Seattle, City of Portland, King County, Madison / Dane County, City of Minneapolis, and San Francisco Human Rights, to name a few.

Geared towards practitioners in racial equity analysis

Our focus over the next several years will be setting up a strategic plan for this work, further building the capacity and reach of the initiative, upholding evaluation as a key strategy, and focusing deeply on what it means to do this work in a transformative way.

We have been using a Lens tool called the 4P's (analysis based on People, Place, Power, and Process) for the past few years. But we've realized through listening to our various constituents and to the research that we had been missing something:  the 5th P, Purpose. Without it, there is no transformation.   Without it, there is no holistic analysis of the effects of race and class on all parts of our lives. What is our individual purpose around action towards racial equity? What is our institution's purpose?

We were challenged by leaders in various communities of color (including our staff), the Relational Worldview concepts, trauma-informed scientists and researchers, and research in mindfulness and brain theory to address in our new materials a true model of what transformation looks and feels like and to include strategies for strengthening our individual and institutional purpose. We present the following materials as a beginning; we will be using the logic model as our evaluation guide and look forward to sharing our work as it evolves.  

Using the Equity and Empowerment Lens

Introductory Letter to New Materials (340.43 KB) A deeply honest and informative executive summary of our path, our materials, our goals for the work

Foundational Assumptions (1.4 MB) The guiding concepts and research that underlie the Logic Model, integrating trauma, healing, neuroscience

Logic Model (234.24 KB) A look at transformative change towards racial equity at the individual, institutional, and systemic levels

Quality Improvement Cycle (98.81 KB) Our quality improvement process, incorporating reflection and purpose

5P's Worksheet (178.56 KB) A worksheet with the major questions in the areas of People, Place, Process, Power, and Purpose 

Equity and Empowerment Lens Resources (166.75 KB) The sources for the above work 

Equity & Empowerment Lens Teaching Tools

Equity and Empowerment Lens Social Determinants (Four Ps) (1.34 MB)

Equity Vs. Equality Adapted from the Office of Equity and Human Rights City of Portland See full citation (1.92 MB)

Six Outcome Areas (665.93 KB)

Key documents

Lens at a Glance (8.02 MB) 

Version for Policy and Decision-making (4.02 MB)

Version for Resource Allocation (5.48 MB)

Concept Papers (41.76 MB)

9/13 Version (11.72 MB)