Cornerstones of Collaborative Governance for a Just & Equitable Future

Long before COVID-19, frontline communities (Black, Indigenous, people of color, and low-income communities) lacked equitable access to basic needs, such as healthcare, housing, jobs, healthy food, safe environments, and quality education. The pandemic showed us how deep these inequities go.

In 2021, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services contracted Front and Centered, Statewide Poverty Action Network, and People’s Economy Lab (the Just Futures project partners) to lead a leadership committee made up of frontline community members (the Just Futures Community Leadership Committee) in envisioning and recommending how the State could advance equity in the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frontline communities are the foremost experts on their lives, and they want and deserve to participate in creating a just and equitable economy, from setting measures of success to implementing policy.

Together, after a series of community listening sessions, the Just Futures project partners and Community Leadership Committee designed the Cornerstones of Collaborative Governance for a Just and Equitable Futurea framework rooted in democracy, self-determination, sustainability, and equity towards shared economic well-being for all Washingtonians.

Just Futures cornerstones with tree

What is Collaborative Governance?

Collaborative Governance, or Co-Governance, is...

“A collection of participatory models and practices, formal and informal, through which government and communities work together to make collective policy decisions, co-create programs to meet community needs, and ensure those policies and programs are implemented effectively.” – Partners for Dignity & Rights and Race Forward’s Co-Governing Toward Multiracial Democracy

"Cornerstones of Collaborative Governance for a Just & Equitable Future"

Responding to the economic disparities intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, this report stresses the importance of empowering frontline communities and giving them opportunities to actively participate in shaping policies and decisions that impact their lives. “Cornerstones of Collaborative Governance for a Just and Equitable Future” presents a comprehensive framework to transform governance in Washington State to promote social and economic equity.

This framework, aligned with the State’s 10-Year Plan to Dismantle Poverty, is rooted in democracy, self-determination, sustainability, and equity. It suggests actions such as establishing universal measures of well-being, following the leadership of frontline communities, building the capacity of community-based organizations and government agencies, implementing results-based practices, and sharing decision-making.

This report attempts to answer the question: How can we prioritize frontline community needs and support universal well-being while advancing a Just Transition to a regenerative economy. 

Download the Just Futures project partners’ full report about the Just Futures project and the Cornerstones of Co-Governance for a Just & Equitable Future.

If this version of the report isn’t accessible for you, email [email protected].

Community Assemblies

Community assemblies are...

One tool for collaborative governance.

“A participatory democratic process that brings people together to articulate community needs, assess solutions, and mobilize for action, with a focus on those furthest from economic well-being.” – Just Futures Community Leadership Committee

"Collaborative Governance: Empowering Communities in Washington Through Community Assemblies

This report makes the case for co-governance in Washington. It also recommends community assemblies as a tool for implementing co-governance, offers real-life case studies demonstrating the effectiveness of community assemblies, and discusses how Washington State HEAL agencies can improve their Community Engagement Plans.

This report emphasizes the importance of collaboration between government agencies and frontline communities, advocating for a shift away from traditional top-down approaches to more reciprocal and inclusive community engagement strategies and shared decision-making.

We present this as a guide to policymakers and implementers, community leaders, and other stakeholders aiming to make government more community-driven, equitable, and inclusive.

Download the Just Futures project partners’ full report about collaborative governance and community assemblies.

If this version of the report isn’t accessible for you, email [email protected].

Click the images below to download our simple infographics about community assemblies.

Additional Resources

Recordings of Just Futures Presentations

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