Chicago Budget Equity

What is Budget Equity?

Led by the Office of Equity and Racial Justice (OERJ), Budget Equity is the process by which all departments account for the progress they are making to advance racial equity, though it is not “a monetary accounting of program spend” - you will not see a complex chart with budget numbers in this report. One of the guiding equity principles is that data is a combination of numbers and narratives. The Budget Equity process is an effort to see the strategy that departments are driving behind the numbers. Budget development is also a reflective moment and is the perfect time to evaluate our departments’ work and determine how we are going to resource them moving forward. To do that in a more equitable way, we should be looking at their strategy. Understanding the “why” behind the numbers is as important as the dollar amount itself.

Why have a Budget Equity process?

Budgets are moral documents that reflect the values and priorities of the City, but we sometimes get lost in the numbers and don’t stop to understand the “why” behind the numbers — why are we allocating resources for certain areas or work? For this reason, OERJ created a Budget Equity Process to account for the progress City departments are making to advance racial equity.

FY2024 budget marks the third year OERJ has led City departments through the Budget Equity process in partnership with the Office of Budget and Management (OBM). This work has progressed and deepened each year, and the equity analysis has become more sophisticated. OERJ developed a budget equity tool that guides departments to analyze progress, create racial equity goals, and identify how their budgets will support those goals. Outside of accountability, our goal is to offer departments the opportunity to reflect on areas of success and opportunity with the goal of advancing an equitable budget.

FY23 Budget Equity Progress

Below is a summary of progress on department Budget Equity commitments from 2023.

Green = Fully completed means the commitment is complete.
Yellow = Partially completed means progress on the commitment has happened but may not be completed by December.
Red = Incomplete means progress on the goal has stopped and there is no likely progress at this time.

FY23 Chart of Progress by Department

FY24 Budget Equity Commitments

Below is a chart reflecting the alignment between departments’ FY24 commitments and citywide priorities.

FY24 Budget Equity Commitments

For greater detail, please see the below reports or visit