Why are we working in diversity, equity and inclusion?
Deborah DiCroce, President and CEO
In April, the Hampton Roads Community Foundation held the second forum under its signature civic engagement series – Understanding Hampton Roads.
To rave reviews and an audience well over 600, the second Understanding Hampton Roads forum focused on Race, Equity and Education. It began with a viewing of the first episode of the America to Me documentary. A robust panel discussion on race followed the film.
This forum served as the public launch of our work helping create a more inclusive and equitable community in Hampton Roads. This work is one of six priorities in our recently adopted five-year strategic roadmap for the community foundation.
So what exactly is this work about? And why have we chosen to be in this space? The answers to these questions are as complex as the subject matter itself.
By any measure, race has long held a defining place in American society. Both explicitly and implicitly, it is embedded in our culture, laws and policies, educational institutions and economy. Such undergirding has resulted in a system of racial bias and inequities that guarantees social instability and economic stratification with too many families and children who continue to lag behind.
To be sure, this system is bigger than the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and our region. It is nonetheless a powerful force pushing against “a thriving community with opportunity for all”—what our community foundation envisions for the region and her people.
Within that context, the community foundation’s work in diversity, equity and inclusion—what we call our DEI initiative—has four goals:
· In partnership with Virginia Humanities, sponsor an 18-month community-wide program series entitled “Beyond the Surface: Race and the History of Race in Hampton Roads.” This will provide a framework for productive dialogue around the difficult subjects of race and the history of race while building a foundation so racial healing can continue beyond the scope of the program itself.
· Drawing on the field expertise of a cadre of respected scholars, consultants and practitioners, facilitate an understanding of racial equity and inclusion principles for the region.
· Conduct an independent equity assessment of our community foundation’s current internal practices, which will be used to develop an equity plan for us.
· Using the lessons learned throughout this initiative, identify external opportunities for helping create a more inclusive and equitable community.
Our DEI initiative constitutes a very tall order. We know that. We know as well that we have one chance “to get it right.” We hope that you will join us on this journey.
Take a look at our website for information on upcoming activities. And, stay tuned.