Mayor Martin J. Walsh will hire a top-level official to lead the city’s dialogue on race and begin unraveling the lingering effects of the city’s busing crisis.
The position was made possible Tuesday when the Rockefeller Foundation revealed it picked Boston as one of 35 cities worldwide to join its 100 Resilient Cities network. The designation means Boston will get $100,000 to $200,000 to hire a chief resiliency officer to lead the effort, as well as additional support for strategic planning, according to a foundation spokesman.
Joyce Linehan, Walsh’s policy chief, said the grant will help the administration address chronic problems that threaten Boston’s ability to turn a critical corner.
“The mayor and I have been talking about this for a very long time — the fact that there has to be a very . . . painful conversation about this thing that is a subtext in every room and a subtext for every conversation we have about justice [and] equity,’’ Linehan said.
Walsh applied for the grant in September, noting “well-documented and widely shared” challenges facing Boston and other cities, such as widening achievement gaps, growing income inequality, and accelerating environmental change.
“Boston has so much potential to be the place that solves those problems,’’ Walsh wrote on the application. “We have a diverse and skilled population, a healthy economy, a high-functioning government, and world-class universities and nonprofit institutions.”
Walsh wrote that when he was sworn in, his team set out to create a culture of openness, inclusiveness, and creativity. He urged the foundation to help the city with “what sometimes seems like an intractable problem, related to our social resilience.”
He specifically pointed to the 40th anniversary this year of the court-ordered desegregation of Boston public schools, saying the conflict that resulted after children were transported to schools out of their neighborhoods has had an enduring impact on blacks and whites.
Linehan said she used to think there was “a natural expiration date” for something as traumatic as busing. But she now realizes that is not the case, she said.
“Even if people were not born yet or did not live here, they still carry the baggage of those scars” from those years, Linehan said. “There is a generation of people out there who really feel their education was stolen because of this, because you can’t re-do high school. And that bitterness causes people not to be able to work through some of the issues that we need to work through.”
A foundation spokesman said officials were impressed with the mayor’s sophistication on this issue, particularly around developing ties between government and communities.
“Community cohesion is a big part of resilience,’’ said Max Young, director of global communications and marketing for the foundation.
The network includes Dallas and Chicago; Athens and Paris; Montreal; and cities in Ghana, Tanzania, Japan, and Cambodia. This year’s grant recipients will join 32 cities picked last year to respond to social, economic, and physical shocks and stresses that afflict many communities, the foundation said.
Meghan E. Irons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.