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Funder Resources on the Executive Order on Banning Racial Equity Trainings


The Trump Administration's Executive Order (EO) on Banning Racial Equity Training

Last updated October 16, 2020

Background and Analysis

The below analysis is compiled from summaries by our partners at the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) and National Innovation Services (NIS).

On September 22, 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, which essentially prohibits government contractors and some grantee from hosting or participating in training on race or sex diversity, equity, or inclusion involving 11 “divisive concepts including terms like “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” “intersectionality,” and “systemic racism.” This EO follows the announcement of the 1776 Commission 

The EO delegates enforcement action and "remedial relief" for violations of the order to Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. The EO is applicable to federal contracts beginning November 21, 2020. Meanwhile, grantee partners have some additional time. Key milestones are:

  • By October 22, 2020, the Department of Labor is ordered to publicly post and actively seek information from whistleblowers on federal agencies involved in diversity and inclusion workshops and training within 30 days.
  • By November 21, 2020, federal agencies must submit a report to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that outlines the programs within each agency that need to certify that grantees will not participate in these activities. 
  • By December 21, 2020, federal agencies are required to tally and report on the amount of money spent on diversity and inclusion training and workshops in 2020, delineating the contractors that provided each training where applicable. 

Following the release of this EO, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum (M-20-37, the “Second Memo”) which includes steps to implement the EO and also goes beyond what the EO defines as "divisive concepts."The OMB memorandum of September 28 states that training or education programs for a grantee that include the “divisive concepts” may not be billed as an allowable cost under federal grants, unless otherwise allowed by law. The OMB memorandum also clarifies that “cooperative agreements” are subject to the same provisions as grants.

Soon after the EO, the Department of Justice's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) launched a complaint hotline to "receive and investigate complaints" under the Executive Order and "enables employees to file complaints alleging that a Federal contractor “is utilizing training programs in violation of the contractor’s obligations under those orders.”

Banned Concepts and Terms under the EO

This Executive Order (EO) seeks to appropriate the terms “stereotyping” and “scapegoating” to critique anti-racist and feminist frameworks and bans federal agencies, uniformed services, federal contractors, subcontractors, and grantees from promoting or inculcating (teach, instruct, or train) the concepts of anti-racism or anti-sexism, in the name of protecting “American meritocracy.”

The specific concepts banned are:

  1. one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex; 
  2. the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist;
  3. an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
  4. an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex;
  5. members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex;
  6. an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex;
  7. an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
  8. any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex; or
  9. meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by a particular race to oppress another race. The term “divisive concepts” also includes any other form of race or sex-stereotyping or any other form of race or sex scapegoating.

Implications for Homelessness and Housing

All federal agencies and grantees who have focused efforts on mitigating the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color will be disrupted by this Executive Order. Additionally, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's technical assistance initiatives and capacity building efforts will be significantly impacted and limited in their ability to address structural racism as a driver of homelessness and housing instability.

There is concern that this EO and the subsequent OMB memo will result in communities stopping all racial equity trainings due to fear of losing federal resources. In the same vein, many organizations led by people of color who host and lead these trainings are being impacted by trainings and contracts being postponed and canceled. 

How Philanthropy Can Take Action

Funders Together is working closely in coalition with our national partners and racial justice organizations to understand the implications of this EO and what it means for those in the homelessness and housing fields, as well as intersecting sectors. We are committed to providing resources and information that is critical to understanding the depth of this EO and its effects on racial justice efforts. Philanthropy can take action and join in with other leaders to oppose this EO and by:

  • disseminating information to your grantee partners to ensure they have an accurate understanding of the EO and what it means for their racial equity and justice efforts. You can use the resources below or reach out to Funders Together for additional information and context.

  • telling Funders Together what you are hearing (or not hearing) from your community. We also encourage you to share any statements you create or resources you find helpful.

  • signing on to this letter as an individual or organization denouncing the EO. You can also encourage communities stakeholders and partners to sign on as well. 

  • utilizing the Race Forward Communications Toolkit and talking points. Email Funders Together for access to these resources.

If you have any questions about the EO and its implications, please email Amanda Andere or Lauren Bennett

Important Resources

Administration Documents

The Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping

Department of Labor Press Release: U.S. Department of Labor Launches Hotline to Combat Race and Sex Stereotyping by Federal Contractors

Office of Management and Budget Memo: Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

White House Press Release: President Trump is Fighting Harmful Ideologies that Cause Division in Our Federal Workplaces


Partner and Member Resources

Council of NonProfits: The Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping Resource Page

Independent Sector: An Executive Order and a Moment to Get Unstuck

Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights: Civil Rights Groups and Allies Condemn White House Move to Censor Race and Gender Equity Training

National Alliance to End HomelessnessSummary of 2020 Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping

National Law Review: President Trump Issues Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping

NonProfit Quarterly: How Nonprofits Can Stop Trump’s Effort to Roll Back Diversity Training


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  • Lauren Bennett
    published this page in Funder Resources 2020-10-16 12:50:51 -0400

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