Year of awareness
This week we welcome Treye Johnson, program officer at the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, as guest blogger.
In the summer 2016 edition of Philanthropy Review, I wrote an article about a racial equity training session Burton D. Morgan Foundation co-sponsored. The article highlighted a few points from the training, which presented an abundance of statistical data to demonstrate the widespread nature of racial inequality in the United States. Since then, Northeast Ohio leaders have continued to explore the topic in conjunction with the Racial Equity Institute (REI). More trainings have been hosted and discussions held about how we might begin moving forward collectively.
Deciding on next steps proved to be challenging as each person had a different opinion on what to do. Additionally, the organizations they represented each had their own goals and motivations, connected back to their missions. The recommendation from REI was to continue building awareness within our community. While introducing nearly 500 Northeast Ohio leaders to REI’s trainings during 2016 was a noteworthy accomplishment, the number still needs to grow significantly before we will be able to meaningfully address racial equity in our region.
As a result, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) will be coordinating monthly REI training sessions throughout 2017 in Cleveland, meant to increase our shared understanding of racial inequality, foster productive dialogue among community stakeholders and civic leaders and determine strategies. In addition to the REI sessions, the awareness building will include efforts to compile and present local data related to racial inequality. Lastly, individuals and organizations will be encouraged to host their own equity-focused activities for our community. Events such as movie screenings, book clubs and discussion groups are easy yet much needed ways to further the discussion about racial inequality. This issue is too complex and entrenched to be solved by any singular method. It will take a truly multi-faceted, cross-sectoral collaboration – in which everyone takes some ownership – to create real change.
CNP hopes to raise enough funding that the trainings can be provided at no cost. In the meantime, individuals and/or organizations can pay on a per capita basis to participate in the training sessions. For more information about the 2017 training dates or to support this effort, please visit www.clevelandnp.org/rei.