Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
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Diversity, Equity, & inclusion
Since its founding in 1924, United Way of Roanoke Valley has fought for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community no matter their identity, experience or background.
United Way of Roanoke Valley strives to be a model of diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our work. We seek to represent and advocate for the many people who proudly make up our community and we value and promote inclusiveness in all aspects of our work. The organization employs and promotes individuals, recruits volunteers, and partners with programs that inclusively support the diversity of our region.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Statement of Principle
We take the broadest possible view of diversity.
We condemn the cruelty and injustices of systemic racism.
We value the visible and invisible qualities that make you who you are.
We welcome that every person brings a unique perspective and experience to advance our mission and progress our fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community.
We believe that each United Way community member, donor, volunteer, advocate, and employee must have equal access to solving community problems.
We strive to include diversity, equity, and inclusion practices at the center of our daily work.
We commit to using these practices for our business and our communities.
We improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of our communities and this is most effectively accomplished when we are inclusive of all and value the unique perspectives a diverse base of agencies, volunteers, partners, employees, and board members bring to this invaluable work.
We recognize that we have the role, responsibility, and opportunity to partner across organizations throughout the community to close equity gaps.
Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of what it means to LIVE UNITED.
Creating a More Equitable Community
Since its inception, United Way has recognized that community engagement that is representative and inclusive of all residents as instrumental in ensuring that our work in education, economic mobility, and health is focused on shared community priorities. Community feedback has helped us remain responsive and effective in our service to those we serve.
Although our work has often implicitly addressed inequity, primarily by focusing resources on historically marginalized populations, creating more equitable communities was not an explicit strategic goal. Within United Way, our institutional focus has traditionally centered on increasing diversity and inclusive practices rather than creating more equitable organizations.
The present-day reality in the United States is that historical, persistent patterns of structural and institutional discrimination and implicit bias based on race/ethnicity, gender, and other identities have created lasting inequities and pose ongoing barriers to enabling all to live the “good life.” United Way recognizes that improving the lives of everyone in the communities we serve means we must explicitly focus on removing these barriers for those most harmed by them. This includes addressing systems, policies, practices, belief systems, and attitudes that have often served to privilege some and disenfranchise others. It is only through an intentional focus on removing these barriers that we can aspire to create the conditions that allow everyone the opportunity to thrive.
Modeling diversity, equity and inclusion is a priority and is a critical factor to successfully address the challenges in any community. United Way recognizes that it is important to embody the principle of equity in our internal organizational practices. United Way can effectively deliver on our mission only by intentionally advancing equity inside our organizations and out in the community by creating an environment where all people feel supported, listened to, and empowered.
Equity is also an underlying principle in all of the other critical success factors included in any strong United Way. This emphasis reflects the understanding that a focus on equity in all aspects of our work is essential to the continued ability of United Way as a partner to address the most critical pressing issues within and across communities. Focusing on equity, by intentionally addressing racial and other disparities will ensure that United Ways can more effectively fight for the
health, education and economic mobility of every person in every community. In practice, this means engaging community residents, particularly those who have been historically marginalized, to identify and understand persistent, systemic inequities and to create impact solutions that help advance inclusive growth and opportunity for all.
This past year, UW began working towards this direction by:
- Creating a shared language, commitment, and understanding of the importance of DEI to United Way’s mission. Beginning in 2020, DEI training became part our annual training for staff and Board members. New board and staff orientation that includes a discussion on the data and history of inequity in the Roanoke Valley to provide important context to our work.
- In partnership with Total Action for Progress, Taubman Museum of Art, The Arts Council, and United Way – we organized a series of virtual DEI training opportunities with the VA Center for Inclusive Committee for staff and board members of local human service and arts organizations. These included an introduction of DEI as well as an action planning component to guide organizations wanting to take action on this issue.
- In support of the mass vaccination efforts of local health districts and healthcare providers, United Way staff assisted in community outreach and vaccine registration efforts to reach minority populations. This included staff consistently assisting at the vaccine clinics as non-medical volunteers.
- Through grant funding from Coca-Cola, United Way worked with the Roanoke Collaborative Group to support three minority-led youth mentoring programs to increase opportunities for positive youth development and curb gang activity.
- Utilizing our platform as UWRV to speak out publicly on Anti-Asian Hate, Equity, Women’s Suffrage
- Trauma-informed supervision training
- Intentional recruitment efforts to the increase Board and staff diversity
- Forming relationships with grassroots leaders, increased presence at community events, and supporting efforts that provide voices to the minority leaders
What We've Done in 2021
- Established DEI expectations for organizations receiving UW grant funding.
- Brought an equity lens to community partnership meetings on the plans for ARPA funding, and post-pandemic recovery and resiliency efforts.
- Launched of Black Father Family
- NLC Partnership Health Equity – grassroots leadership
- NCL EEMI partnership
- Development of a DEI strategic plan
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