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:
- one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
- the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist;
- an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
- an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex;
- members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex;
- an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex;
- 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;
- any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex; or
- 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.
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 Homelessness: Summary 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
Check back soon!
On August 19, Funders Together to End Homelessness and Funders for LGBTQ Issues hosted a call for funders focused on the proposed changes to the Equal Access Rule, how it would affect the LGBTQ and trans communities, and how funders can act to oppose it.
Funders Together to End Homelessness joins other national housing advocates to support Black people and Black organizers who are working on housing justice.
In September 2019, word of possible federal intervention on homelessness in California by the Administration circulated in the news. Then, on Monday, September 16th, the White House's Council of Economic Advisers released a troubling "State of Homelessness in America" report, which outlined actions the Administration may take as part of this intervention.
January 2017-Present: President Trump leads an administration focused on policy changes that create and perpetuate homelessness, to include requesting massive funding cuts to anti-poverty programs, eliminating the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, adding work requirements to Medicaid and food stamps, and expanding penalties for immigrants who use social benefit programs (just to name a few).
July 2019: In an interview with Tucker Carlson, President Trump commented on the homelessness crisis, expressing extreme concern (particularly at the visibility of homelessness). He largely blames liberals and sanctuary cities for the homelessness “phenomena that started two years ago.”
Mid-September 2019: White House officials toured public housing and encampments in California and news broke that the Trump administration was considering action on homelessness. Advocates are very concerned that impending action would further criminalize homelessness.
Late September 2019: The White House Council of Economic Advisors released a report: The State of Homelessness in America. The report misrepresents evidence and asserts that homelessness is caused by overregulation of housing markets, the “tolerability” and availability of shelters, and “individual characteristics” like mental illness and poverty.
November 2019: The Administration requested Matthew Doherty to stepped down as Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). During this, speculation started to circulate of an upcoming Executive Order from the Administration pointed towards using some sort of federal intervention to address homelessness targeted at California but having impact nationally.
December 2019: The Administration hired Robert Marbut as the new Executive Director of USICH. Marbut had a long history of convincing local governments that the solution to homelessness lies in large-scale shelters rather than in housing-based approaches causing concern for many in the homelessness sector.
Early January 2020: A letter from HUD Sec. Ben Carson to Los Angele Mayor Eric Garcetti circulated, confirming fears of the Administration’s attempt to strike a deal with the city to address the homelessness crisis. In it, it ties certain policy changes such as “empowering and utilizing law enforcement” and use of “federal land” for shelters to the federal funding the Administration would provide.
Mid-January 2020: Sources reveal that the Administration is backing away from an Executive Order in pursuit of targeting cities with a large unsheltered homelessness population and attempting to reach a “strings attached” deal with each in efforts to claim a political “win” in those communities and states.
February 2020: President Trump releases his proposed FY21 budget which include cuts to HUD by $8.6 billion or 15% below 2020 enacted levels. The proposal would eliminate vital housing programs, including the national Housing Trust Fund and all funding for public housing capital repairs. It would also eliminate the HOME Investments Partnership program and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), significantly decreasing much needed resources for affordable housing, community development, and solutions to homelessness.
March 2020: On March 4, 2020, Secretary Ben Carson testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) of the Committee on Appropriations In his testimony, he admitted he is actively trying to find ways around language built into FY20 budget that requires HUD to adhere to the FY18 NOFA. This caused the THUD Appropriations Committee to pay special attention to language that could allow for criminalization of homelessness in budget bills that go beyond FY20.
Funders Together to End Homelessness is working with our Board of Directors, national partners, and close advisers around the philanthropic response and possible long-term strategies.We are also working to provide resources, talking points, media opportunities, member and partners statements, and other related content for funders which will be compiled on this resource page. We encourage you to check back often or reach out to Funders Together if you would like assistance in crafting messaging for a statement of your own.
If your organization has a resource or statement you would like listed here, please contact Lauren Bennett.
Funders Together Resources
California Health Care Foundation: White House Puts National Spotlight on California Homelessness
Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland: “Housing is the Answer” – SOCF Statement on White House Homelessness Report
United Way of Greater Los Angeles: President Trump's Visit to LA
National Alliance to End Homelessness: Statement from the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Response to the White House Council of Economic Advisers’ Report on Homelessness
National Alliance to End Homelessness: White House Council of Economic Advisers' State of Homelessness in America Talking Points
National Health Care for the Homeless Council: An Open Letter to President Trump from National Homeless Advocates
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty:White House Policy Paper on Homelessness Misrepresents Evidence, Drives Wrong Conclusions
National Low Income Housing Coalition: Statement from NLIHC President & CEO Diane Yentel on The Council of Economic Advisers’ Report on Homelessness in America
National Low Income Housing Coalition: The Case for Housing First
National Low Income Housing Coalition: The Primary Causes and Solutions to Homelessness
Urban Institute: The Homelessness Blame Game
The 2020 Census is less than a year away, but the work to ensure a fair and accurate count for our communities is far from over. Funders Together to End Homelessness, along with nearly thirty other philanthropy serving organizations (PSOs) and funders, contributed to an amicus curiae brief to contest the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
Regardless of the topic, whenever I leave the flurry of work and family life for three days to attend a funder network meeting, I can’t help but find myself wondering “Will it be worth it?” It was much easier to embrace this risk after learning that the 2019 Funders Forum would be held in San Diego at a time of year when my home town, Omaha, Nebraska, has endured a particularly brutal winter including more than 50 inches of snow and -20-degree temperatures.
On February 20, 2019, nearly 50 funders convened in San Diego at the 2019 Funders Forum to learn about unsheltered homelessness and building both public and political will to end it. Held in conjunction with the National Alliance to End Homelessness's Solutions for Individual Homeless Adults national conference, attendees had the opportunity to learn about unsheltered homelessness, responses to address unsheltered homelessness from communities across the country, how funders can support the work to end it, and how to build the public and political will to change the system.
For information and resources on unsheltered homelessness, visit our Unsheltered Homelessness Resource page.
Read more about the 2019 Funders Forum in the convening recap by Kristin Williams of the Sherwood Foundation.Read more
Most members of Funders Together to End Homelessness represent institutional philanthropy -- private, endowed foundations; community foundations; corporations; or United Ways. Yet the vast majority of charitable donations in the U.S. come from individuals and it has been a goal of Funders Together for a number of years to increase membership among individual philanthropists.