Silence is not an option
By Jesse Bridges, United Way of Northwest Vermont Chief Executive Officer
Black Lives Matter. We are angry, we are outraged, not just by the killing of George Floyd but by the continued systemic and structural racism that exists in our world, our country, our state, and in our community. At United Way we feel our responsibility is not to just speak about our values but to do the work of putting them into action… we will not be silent but we must also seek to make room for the narrative and voices of the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in our community. In essence, we will not take a stage that is not ours.
We want to be clear about what we are doing and then focus on doing that work.
We are listening and learning. We can grow and be better community leaders, allies, donors, funders, partners, and humans. Our organization will examine all of our hiring, funding, programs, initiatives and volunteer engagement to remove barriers to access these opportunities and learn to be actively anti-racist.
We are investing. We are examining all our community investments to understand where we can do more to support work that breaks down the systems of discrimination around us. We are dedicating $25,000 out of our United Response Fund specifically to support organizations working to address the disparate realities and impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color.
We are advocating. Not taking up the air but raising up the voices of others. Stepping up to support people and programs that advance racial, economic, and social equity and justice. We are making a commitment that we will work with people and organizations in taking an actively anti-racist approach to serving our community. We need to challenge our own and others approach to racial equity.
We are partnering. Our United Way has long had a priority on fighting economic inequity – we need to understand how our role as individuals and as an organization can grow so we can do more as it relates to race and actively engaging in conversations and solutions.
We are reaffirming and restating our existing commitment to inclusion & equity.
OUR APPROACH TO INCLUSION & EQUITY
United Way of Northwest Vermont is committed to building an inclusive culture—in our workplace and the community at large—that celebrates the diverse voices of our employees, volunteers, donors, community partners and the individuals and families we serve. We actively make space for ongoing learning, cultural humility and challenging the systems of discrimination, disadvantage and stigma that work against our community members’ wellbeing.
By valuing all community members and acknowledging the intersectionality of age, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, ethnicity, culture and/or perspective, we strive to create and preserve a universally accessible space to improve our community outcomes.
Through these and other efforts, we can do our best work to enhance the quality of life for all of our neighbors.