Government Accountability Project Asheville

Email from CAPE Director Lillian Govus (6/27/24)

GAPAVL Team,

We share your interest in the reporting of racial demographic data on boards and commissions. In March, we received your inquiry and shared how we’ve intentionally encouraged residents of color to apply for boards and commission. In 2023, the County hosted three board and commission fairs (including one conducted in Spanish) in the community for people to attend and learn about each board and commission. Additionally, demographic data including racial background is currently being collected for board and commission membership.

A goal on the Clerk’s Office business plan is to establish and report out on board and commission demographic data on an annual basis. The Clerk’s Office is currently establishing the framework to organize and furnish this information. Once the framework is completed, we will share how you and members of the community can access the information. Attached you will find a demographic snapshot of the current boards and commission members.

Regarding the COVID Recovery funds, equity was considered as part of the process in deciding how to distribute the funds. Community-based organizations were invited to submit proposals (along with County departments) regardless of experience managing federal funds. The application and scoring process considered population served and equity impacts with an emphasis on distributing funds to serve populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and its negative economic impacts

Every project was required to select performance measures and report back on activities and outcomes. Some projects included race/ethnicity data in their performance measures to track and report. For example: (just a sampling)

  • All Souls Counseling Center reported that of the 698 total counseling clients so far in the project, 125 identify as BIPOC.
  • Chosen PODS (fiscally sponsored by Housing Authority) reported that out of the 113 students served in their summer camp, 106 were Black, 4 were Pacific Islander, and 3 were white.
  • Mountain BizWorks reported that 31 of the 141 small businesses that received One Buncombe small business grants with this funding were minority-owned.
  • Working Wheels reported that of the 86 households receiving car repairs through this funding, 53 were Black and 15 were Latinx.

While we have a lot to be proud of in terms of how this funding is being implemented, we also know we have plenty of room to do better. One area that we could do better in terms of racial data would be to require this data to be reported in a consistent way for all projects so that we could generate portfolio-level rather than project level racial impact analysis. We are still analyzing the impact of these funds (which are being spent through 2026), so stay tuned for more information to come. The public can follow along with this program at www.buncombeounty.org/recoveryfunding

Please note you can submit a public record request anytime at www.buncombecounty.org/records. That portal allows you to track the progress of your request and also allows you to review other record requests that may have come from other organizations.

Lillian M. Govus, APR
She/Her
Communications & Public Engagement Director

Buncombe County Boards and Commissions Demographics Baseline June 2024

This information is a snapshot of current membership of Buncombe County appointees in June 2024. Demographics include all appointments made by the County Commissioners to the various County and regional boards and does not include vacant seats. Below are the demographics for 311 members.

MEMBERSHIP RACE

Race Count %
White 236 76%
African American / Black 51 16%
American Indian/ Alaska Native 1 > 1%
Asian 10 > 1%
Hispanic or Latino 4 > 1%
Prefer not to disclose 3 > 1%
N/A did not respond 2 > 1%

MEMBERSHIP GENDER IDENTITY

Gender Identity Count %
Male 152 49%
Female 157 50%
Prefer not to disclose 2 > 1%