Reaffirming Our Commitment to Racial Equity
May 25, 2022
The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa (CFNEIA) team has devoted time in the first half of this year to taking a close look at our commitment to racial equity. We’ve refined our message to emphasize the most crucial factors of our work and solidified our approach moving forward.
We are committed to being intentional and accountable leaders and taking bold action to remove barriers to racial equity in the communities we serve. By funding, collaborating, and amplifying messages, we hope to help create transformational change. You can read more about it here.
The Time Is Now
We’re often asked, “Why now?” Racism and inequity have been problems in our area for decades, if not centuries. Why, then, has CFNEIA prioritized this work now?
The answer is as complex as the issues themselves, but a few things did stimulate our action. First, in 2018, an organization called 24/7 Wall Street published a list of areas in the U.S. that were considered the worst for African Americans to live, and the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metro area was ranked No. 1.
While this article was not a surprise to our Black community members, it was a wake-up call for many of us. It also created a new climate for people to hear the voices that had been alerting our community to the disparities experienced by minoritized people.
Then, in 2020, two-years ago today, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, adding a new level of awareness—and a renewed sense of urgency—to our local efforts. Several new nonprofit organizations arose from the passion and determination of some committed members of our community. CFNEIA began working with these organizations, funded established organizations working on solutions to end racial inequity, and began conducting our own research to inform our work.
We studied. We listened. Now it is time to act.
Equity vs. Equality
There is a reason racial justice action and other work in diversity and inclusion focuses on equity, rather than equality.
When resources are distributed equally, everyone receives the same thing. When they are distributed equitably, everyone receives the tools they need to succeed. We are striving toward racial equity, acknowledging people of different races are starting from different places. Going one step further, justice addresses the root causes of inequity and remedies them.
Black Lives First
As we reframe our work through a racial equity lens, we’re focusing our efforts on the Black community in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and surrounding areas. While we believe all groups deserve equitable opportunities, the Black community has been disproportionally impacted by systemic racism.
The Community Foundation’s commitment to racial equity is not exclusive to Black people, but that is our starting point. We continue to learn about and take action on racial inequity for other marginalized groups in our community. As we learn and grow in this work, we plan to expand to a broader intentional focus to include other people of color across our region.
As we shift our perspective to add a lens of racial equity through which we will view everything the Community Foundation does, it will unquestionably impact and change aspects of our work.
CFNEIA is committed to being an even more transparent organization as this view guides us. The Foundation will always look at our communities holistically, supporting organizations creating positive change, helping generous people make a difference in the way they want, and continuing to be a partner in building communities where all people have the opportunity to flourish.
If you have questions or want to learn more, please call Kaye Englin, President and CEO, at 319-243-1350 or by email.