Why Is A Rural Region Community Foundation Taking On Racism?

We love our communities and the families, people and organizations who make them special. And, we have heard countless stories for many years like the quotes you see highlighted below. We see a stream of local data proving race is a significant factor influencing everything from school disciplinary actions to mortality on the north coast. We recognize diversifying school district demographics show that the north coast is a more culturally rich place than many realize. And we understand from local institutions and organizations that they need help and company to do this work — and that it is otherwise no one else’s “job” to tackle large-scale issues like racism that deeply affect so many lives.

We and our communities have a lot to learn. We believe we have a responsibility to use what tools we have to make necessary changes our neighbors of color can see and feel. We are dedicating a number of years to creating opportunities for ourselves and others to listen and learn more, change harmful policies and procedures, and act more effectively to close gaps none of us want between what brown and black people experience and what white people experience in our region. Join us.

Equity Alliance in the Media


Where We’ve Been

A growing number of local organizations, government and education institutions, businesses and community members have asked for help to better recognize and understand distinct realities and barriers faced by particularly indigenous and communities of color in recent years. We spent the better part of 2016-2018 testing a variety of learning and institutional change models aimed at ending racialized inequities, starting with leaders, institutions, organizations and community members asking for help. HAF also recognized our need to do the same, and began a long process of listening, convening, learning, planning, and reflecting to improve our own understanding, policies and procedures – including developing and implementing a Racial Equity Plan that is in its second phase. Internally and externally, we are beginning to see progress towards new cultural and institutional values and practices.

Recent efforts:

  • Worked with the Cascadia Center for Leadership to offer a four day Racial Equity Consulting and Organizational Change Intensive in Fall 2018. 

The pilot 2016-18 phase included:

Where We Are

Currently we are supporting the continuation of racial equity work at institutional and structural levels, building local capacity of local trainers and the organizations they serve for racial equity, and hosting public offerings to normalize conversations about race regionally.

Current Priorities:

  • Growing Local Talent for Racial Equity Training & Coaching: Befitting HAF’s long-time focus on building individual and organizational capacity to pursue effective change strategies, we have been learning together with and collaboratively growing the skills of a group of diverse local consultants to help organizations start and sustain this important work.
  • Community Networks Addressing Institutional and Structural Racism: providing startup convening support for both equity arcata and the McKinleyville Alliance for Racial Equity (MARE) in their efforts across multiple sectors to connect, learn, and provide peer support to address systemic patterns of discrimination and unwelcoming behavior.
  • Institutional Capacity for Culture & Policy Change: nonprofits, institutions and businesses are committing to the process and outcomes needed to achieve racial equity. Each organization participates in an assessment to understand the needs and objectives for taking on a long-term change process; a series of workshops (learning about the four dimensions of racism and strategies to understand and identify biased practices; developing solutions to achieve racial equity and inclusion); and coaching and/or peer support to develop and implement racial equity plans.
  • Community Connection & Self-Education: Monthly public racial equity roundtables provide participants with a reflective learning space that includes racial affinity groups. Content is a variety of films, facilitated discussion and practice. Topics range from debunking historical myths about biological racism, understanding and recognizing structural racism, and how the construction of race shifts with economic change. Average is 35 participants, roughly half of which are regular attendees.

Where We’re Headed

We are working so that, by 2020:

  • Dozens of organizations, governments and businesses are on established journeys of setting clear goals, retooling, diversifying and evolving to specifically address racialized inequities in their respective areas of focus.
  • Motivated and committed organizations and institutions are working together to set common goals, re-imagine, reform and collectively be more welcoming and useful places to people of color.
  • Diverse local professional talent is productively and successfully helping these organizations make tangible changes and community members are supporting personal and institutional efforts to become a place where everyone belongs.

We need local donors’ support to be able to support local trainers/consultants and HAF staff who are convening, training and coaching local organizations and leaders to carry this work to achieve measurable impacts.

It’s a hard thing to ask a person of color who is trying to be safe, part of the community, not make their children stand out, [to] find a common ground to talk safely about these issues. There are people like myself who are asking you to have this conversation. We do need allies to have a safe conversation, so we can all make improvement together. I have much more to say on the topic. It took a lot of support from other people to encourage those of us who are here to come out and say anything – [more than] to just get along [so] our kids’ schools and baseball teams don’t think we are just troublemakers. You know that we don’t rock the boat, but we do need to rock the boat a little bit because this community has a lot to offer.
Participant at McKinleyville Community Advisory Committee meeting, July 2017

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