We’re Taking Action

2022 Progress report

Select the area of interest to explore the 2022 agency equity action plans

Economic Justice

President Biden is renewing the federal government’s commitment to making the American Dream real for families across the nation by taking bold and ambitious steps to build a more equitable economy.  To meet this mandate, agencies are advancing equity for workers and jobseekers who face barriers and discrimination, strengthening social safety net programs that provide economic security, and supporting wealth building by growing opportunities for businesses in underserved communities. For example:

Advancing equity through employment opportunities

  • The Department of Labor will deliver equitable access to workforce training for historically underserved workers and job seekers to address persistently high unemployment rates faced by communities of color, people with disabilities, and other underserved communities. The Department of Labor is also launching a comprehensive initiative to address systemic barriers to accessing Unemployment Insurance for underserved workers. 

Strengthening the social safety net

  • The Social Security Administration will address systemic barriers to program participation in key safety net programs including disability and retirement benefits, and will expand access to legal representation for individuals navigating the disability insurance appeals process.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs will improve access and outcomes for underserved veterans across key programs and services, including pension benefits and small business supports. 

Supporting opportunities to build wealth in underserved communities

  • The Department of Commerce will expand resources to help communities of color and rural communities overcome the barriers to starting a business and accessing economic development investments.
  • The Small Business Administration will invest in improved technology to increase access to capital for businesses in underserved communities by streamlining program applications and integrating data.

Advance economic security and self-determination for Tribal Nations and Native communities

  • The Department of the Interior will advance equity for Native communities by improving access to grants for Tribes, streamlining applications, and providing more technical assistance to Tribal governments.

Educational Equity and Pathways to Opportunity

From pre-K through postsecondary and adult learners, education has the power to bring the American Dream within reach of every individual and meet our nation’s vast potential. To meet this potential, agencies are reckoning with and addressing the long-standing disparities that underserved students and communities face in achieving equal educational opportunity.

Advance equity in K-12 education

  • The Department of Education has supported equitable recovery from COVID-19 for students, teachers, and schools through the effective use of American Rescue Plan funding for K-12 students by requiring states and school districts to use diverse and inclusive community engagement as they develop plans for using federal funding, and will continue to provide guidance and technical assistance to help educators meet the needs of all students, especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
  • The Department of Defense will advance educational equity for military families, including students who are members of underserved communities by implementing innovative special education programs to provide more inclusive experiences for students, including those with disabilities. DOD will also increase access to childcare, on- and off-base, recognizing its importance in supporting spousal employment.

Expand access to higher education for underserved students, including by investing in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs)

  • The Department of Education will advance college access and college completion by investing in HBCUs and MSIs, community colleges, and other under-resourced public institutions, and supporting schools to raise completion rates for underserved students, with a particular focus on supporting students with disabilities who face persistent barriers to college completion.
  • The Department of Energy will set a goal of increasing the percentage of grants awarded to HBCUs and MSIs to 15 percent by 2025, including with funding for research and development activities.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will enhance grants and cooperative agreements to advance opportunities, access, and representation for HBCUs and MSIs by exploring the launch of a Science Mission Directorate Bridge Program to foster collaboration and partnerships between NASA centers and MSIs.

Environmental Justice

For far too long, environmental policy decisions have failed to adequately account for environmental injustice, including the disproportionate and cumulative impacts pollution and climate change have on low-income communities and communities of color. President Biden has made clear that his Administration will chart a new and better course by advancing environmental justice, including through implementation of the Justice40 Initiative which will ensure that 40% of the benefits of investments in clean energy reach disadvantaged communities.

Address the disproportionate burdens of pollution and climate change on underserved communities

  • The Environmental Protection Agency will develop a comprehensive framework for considering the cumulative impacts of pollution on underserved communities in EPA decisions and operationalize that framework in EPA’s programs and activities. EPA will also integrate community science into EPA’s research and program implementationto ensure underserved communities can help inform decision-making and advance environmental justice and self-determination.

Promote climate change resiliency and energy efficiency for low-income households

  • The Department of Energy will improve access and equity in the Weatherization Assistance Program to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings owned or occupied by low-income persons, reducing their total residential energy expenditures, and improving their health and safety.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency will support at-risk communities in planning for and mitigating hazards by piloting programs to use data to identify mitigation activities, to advance equity, and to conduct more targeted outreach to underserved communities.

Remediate environmental damage caused by federal activities

  • The Department of Defense will seek opportunities to increase investments that advance equity by addressing past harms resulting from environmental and other impacts from defense activities on communities around military installations and bases, which disproportionately impact Tribal lands and Native communities.

Civil Rights

Advancing civil rights is fundamental to making real the promise of our nation – that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. Affirmatively advancing civil rights is a central aspect of the government’s work to deliver more equitable outcomes for underserved communities. Yet federal civil rights offices have often been under-resourced to deliver on their mission. Many agencies are reinvigorating the work of their civil rights offices to deliver justice and equal protection under law to underserved communities facing discrimination.

Strengthen civil rights enforcement as a core part of advancing equity

  • The Environmental Protection Agency will invest in resources to reinvigorate the agency’s civil rights work to address the impacts of potentially discriminatory activities on overburdened communities.  
  • The Department of Transportation will expand its enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prevent harmful disparate impacts from transportation projects in underserved communities.
  • The Department of Labor will advance fairness for underserved workers by equitably implementing the Nation’s wage and hour protections to support underserved workers who are the most vulnerable to wage theft and violations. 

Reduce opportunities for bias in federally-developed Artificial Intelligence

  • The Department of Defense will advance the safe and equitable use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology by investing in agency-wide responsible AI development and investing in the development of a more diverse AI workforce including through the Department’s partnerships with HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will leverage its initiative on artificial intelligence and the use of algorithms in employment decisions to bring stakeholder together to advance innovating ways to advance workforce inclusion and diversity.
  • The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection will develop a toolkit to aid staff in evaluating the impact of deceptive or unfair practices in the use of emerging technologies (e.g., algorithmic bias and the gig economy) on underserved communities.

Expand language access

  • The Department of Justice will improve access to justice programs and resources for individuals with limited English proficiency to ensure all communities understand their rights, can report crimes, and have full and equal access to DOJ’s services and resources.  
  • The Department of Labor will ensure workers with limited English proficiency are fully aware of their rights and can access workplace protections by increasing the agency’s language capacity through hiring and retaining more bilingual and multilingual staff. 
  • The Department of Health and Human Services will address the barriers that individuals with limited English proficiency face in accessing health services and benefits. HHS will expand access to in-language assistance across the agency’s outreach materials, including through telephonic interpreter services, and will provide federal funding to expand language access services.

Health Equity

A once-in-a-century pandemic highlighted and exacerbated pre-existing disparities in our health care system. President Biden took swift action to promote an equitable recovery from COVID-19 by lowering health care costs for millions of low-income families, advancing equitable vaccine distribution and access through partnerships with community-based organizations, and directing federal agencies to prevent anti-Asian xenophobia and bias as they responded to the pandemic. As our nation continues to recover from COVID-19, agencies are advancing health equity, addressing the social determinants of health, and expanding access to quality and affordable health care to meet the needs of underserved communities.

Expand health coverage and improve health outcomes for underserved communities

  • The Department of Health and Human Services will advance health equity for underserved communities by providing targeted outreach to communities of color to encourage enrollment in free and low-cost health care as well. HHS will also respond to the national maternal mortality crisis by addressing the increased pregnancy and postpartum morbidity and mortality among Black and American Indian and Alaska Native pregnant and childbearing people.  
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs will advance health equity for underserved veterans by addressing the social and economic determinants of health for underserved veterans, including veterans of color and veterans who live in rural communities where care is harder to access.

Address disparities in nutrition security

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture will expand equitable access to nutrition assistance programs by improving access to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition assistance program.

Serve as a model employer on health equity

  • The Office of Personnel Management will advance health equity for federal employees by improving the process for selecting healthcare benefits plans and strengthening health literacy among public servants.

Criminal Justice

Too many people—disproportionately Black and brown people as well as poor people—are incarcerated and face systemic disparities in our nation’s criminal justice system. Many Americans face an uphill struggle to secure a decent job, stable housing, and basic opportunity when they are released from jail or return from prison. At the same time, gun violence disproportionately takes the lives of Black, brown, and Native American people, and addressing this urgent problem through prevention, intervention, and enforcement is a matter of racial equity. The Biden Administration is working to reduce incarceration, end racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and facilitate successful reentry, while keeping our communities safe and working to end the epidemic of gun violence.

Advance equity in public safety and the criminal justice system

  • The Department of Justice seeks to create a new “Accelerating Justice System Reform” grant program to tackle the root causes of gun crime and violence, reduce incarceration, and address harmful racial disparities in the criminal justice system. The President has proposed an innovative $15 billion program to provide state, local, and Tribal governments with additional resources to invest in addressing the root causes of crime, including gun crime and other violent crime. In order to access these funds, State, local, and Tribal governments must undertake evidence-informed reforms to their criminal laws and policies with the goal of achieving significant reductions in correctional populations without negatively impacting public safety, resulting in safer and stronger communities for all. By advancing these reforms, this program will address elements of the justice system that foster harmful disparate impacts on people of color and other historically disadvantaged communities. 

Protect underserved communities from domestic violent extremism

  • The Department of Homeland Security is countering domestic violent extremism to address the terrorism-related threat to our country posed by white supremacists and other domestic terrorists, and to protect the civil rights and civil liberties of religious, ethnic, racial minority, and other communities.

Build trust in interactions between the public and federal law enforcement agencies

  • The Department of Justice will engage with underserved communities more regularly, including by expanding language access for people with limited English proficiency, to improve the Department’s understanding of the interests, needs, and perspectives of marginalized and underserved communities, and to repair, rebuild, and increase public confidence and trust in the Department.
  • The Department of Homeland Security will work to ensure that underserved communities are treated fairly in airport screenings by enhancing training for officers on supporting travelers from multiple underserved and historically marginalized communities.
  • The Department of Homeland Security will improve the process to file complaints and seek redress in programs by providing seamless and comprehensive language access to complaint and redress procedures.

Housing Justice and Community Investment

Diverse and inclusive communities strengthen our democracy. But during the 20th century, federal and local governments systematically implemented discriminatory housing, transportation, and community investment policies that segregated neighborhoods, inhibited equal opportunity and wealth creation, led to the persistent undervaluation of properties, and placed the disproportionate burden of pollution in communities of color and low-income communities. Federal agencies are addressing their historic roles in systematically disinvesting in communities of color and other rural communities, and communities facing persistent poverty.

Advance equity through homeownership, home valuation, and housing security

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development is working to eliminate the racial homeownership gap. HUD will address the disproportionate rates of homelessness among people of color, low-income individuals and families, and LGBTQI+ Americans. Having initiated the Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE), co-chaired by Secretary Fudge, HUD is expanding actions to reduce bias in home appraisals, including by evaluating issues related to biased appraisals in mortgage transactions and Automated Valuation Models.

Expand access to opportunity through transportation investments

  • The Department of Transportation will increase investments in underserved communities and neighborhoods by launching a national assistance center to provide direct, hands-on support to underserved and overburdened communities to strengthen planning, project development, grant applications, and project delivery.

Invest in underserved homeowners, neighborhoods, and communities impacted by disasters

  • The Department of Commerce will administer nearly $50 billion in grant funds to invest in broadband infrastructure deployment, affordability, and digital inclusion efforts to help close the digital divide in underserved communities.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency will close the flood insurance gap to increase the financial resilience of flood-prone, low-income households. FEMA will promote equitable outcomes for disaster survivors by increasing eligibility for assistance programs to underserved and vulnerable applicants.

Equity in the Global Context

Strengthening inclusive democracies worldwide is a core tenet of the Biden Administration’s foreign policy. To advance this goal, agencies are using American leadership abroad to advance equity and human rights for communities that are underserved or face barriers to inclusion.

  • The State Department will engage high-level diplomatic partners and individuals worldwide from underserved racial and ethnic groups and other underserved communities to better assess and embed equity into U.S. foreign policies. The State Department will also increase inclusive, equitable messaging to combat disinformation, which can sow discord among communities and undermine democratic norms.
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development will invest in resources to help advance human rights and non-discrimination protections in foreign assistance, and will designate an Inclusive Development Advisor focused on elevating considerations of marginalized groups.

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