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Equity … It’s for Everyone

By Ellen Irie

“Deliver on the promise of a quality education.” Thus proclaimed LeShawn Routé Chatmon, Executive Director of The National Equity Project (formerly BayCES), echoing the organization’s mandate at its inspirational re-naming event held on Friday, October 29 in downtown Oakland.

Informing Change is proud to have been a supporter of this event; Informing Change Managing Director, Lande Ajose, currently serves on The National Equity Project’s Board of Trustees. I attended the event with several of my Informing Change colleagues and was moved not only by the organization’s vision, but by the stories of the people who are working tirelessly to ensure that all children can access their right to a quality education.

The most powerful and consistent message throughout the evening was summed up by keynote speaker Angela Glover Blackwell, President and CEO of PolicyLink. Blackwell stressed that equity isn’t about one group or another taking a stance or making a claim. Equity is about everyone; equity is for everyone. And as such, everyone has a role to play in ensuring equity.

The evening’s event was designed to illustrate this very point by hosting a panel discussion in conversation with Blackwell. The panel featured five individuals who play different, yet equally important, roles in local education: a district superintendent, a school board commissioner, a principal, a teacher and a community organizer. Their inspiring, and at times tearful, stories demonstrated their personal passions for striving for equity, and why they get up in the morning each day to fight this battle.

These narratives reminded me that a unifying theme in all of Informing Change’s work is that in one way or another, we are helping our nonprofit and philanthropic clients to strive for equity: equity in access to health care, education, employment, opportunity and more. Quite frankly, this is not the frame that I think about my work every day, but I find it both inspiring and provocative to consider how our work is furthering the aspiration of equity. And let me, in turn, ask you: What are you doing today for the sake of equity?