Lead with Equity

At United Way, we're committed to equity in our work -- from interacting with the public, to engaging with donors, to allocating resources across our community.

United Way Equity Definition 

We recognize that structural racism and other forms of oppression have contributed to persistent disparities in our region. We must focus our work on the most marginalized groups and we know that centering race and ethnicity is critical to ending the historical and social inequities that continue to exist in our region.

An Intentional Focus on Racial Equity

With our investments and partnerships, we place priority on culturally specific organizations in order to advance racial equity in our region. Those are organizations in which*

  • The majority of clients served are from a specific cultural community (e.g. African American, African, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American/Alaska Native, Latino/Hispanic, Slavic),
  • There is a predominance of bilingual and/or bicultural staff and board that reflects the community served (e.g. African American, African, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American/Alaska Native, Latino/Hispanic, and Slavic),
  • The organizational environment is culturally focused and identifiable by consumer as such; and,
  • The organization or program is established and successful at community engagement and involvement with the culturally specific communities being served.
*Based on the definition in the Coalition of Communities of Color's Philanthropy Report

Nonprofits' Role in Leading With Equity

Collectively putting racial equity at the center of our work means more than pledging to care about inequality. It means asking hard questions about whether what we’ve become comfortable doing is really what best serves kids, families, and communities of color. It means examining who makes decisions, and how, across organizations. It means moving past good intentions to prove what works—and improve what doesn’t. It means tracking with greater detail than ever before exactly who is served, and what effect that service has on people’s lives. And it means including community voices, perspectives, and expertise in how we measure whether community needs are being met. In 2017, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette released “Race and Place: Transforming the Modern Nonprofit.” While the report was released five years ago, the information is as relevant as ever. 


Racial Equity resources

As part of our continuing work on advancing racial equity, we've put together a compilation of local and national resources created by multiple organizations to help us explore our path and commitment toward a more just and equitable region.


Internal focus on diversity, equity and inclusion

We strive to reflect the demographics of the diverse communities that we serve on our board and on our staff. We incorporate equity principles and practices in our hiring, promotion and retention policies and hold ourselves accountable for creating United Way’s culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

United Way's Equity Action Team (EAT) is made up of United Way team members who serve as an advisory body to ensure continuing progress toward our racial equity agenda. The team reviews, advises on, and proposes policies, protocols, and activities to ensure that equity is operationalized in United Way’s daily work. The team also creates learning and engagement opportunities for staff to develop their personal understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion.


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