Equity Challenge Day 21

Day 21: Next Steps

Tuesday, February 1

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” - Leo Tolstoy

Doing the Work

Over the past 20 business days, we have learned how racial inequities permeate our communities on individual, institutional, and systemic levels. We are all impacted by the system of racism in our country and therefore all responsible for dismantling the structures that allow it to persist. Change is possible, and there are many tools and approaches we can employ as individuals and organizations to drive transformation. We encourage you to explore Racial Equity Tools, a comprehensive site of resources. You’ll find fundamentalsideas for planningimplementation strategies, and evaluation resources. They are all designed to support efforts to achieve racial equity.

Right Here in Olmsted County

Olmsted County is the vibrant and hard-working place that we call home. But it’s not without its problems, and we know we have a lot of work to do. The good news is that we’re Living United and we’re not leaving anyone behind.

United, we’re fighting to ensure every voice is heard and systems are changing for the better. Because we believe in the potential of every person - and when we Live United, there’s no limit to what’s possible!

United Way of Olmsted County, alongside numerous other community partners, has signed on to the Rochester Nonprofit Consortium Commitment to Action towards Racial Justice. Since George Floyd was murdered, organizations around the country have released statements affirming their belief in the values of racial equity and inclusion. Such statements play a role in advancing our national conversation about anti-Black racism and intersecting forms of oppression.

Yet we know that words without actions can do more harm than good. United Way of Olmsted County’s core values are integrity, equity, excellence, accountability, and leadership. Signing our name to a statement of support without also making specific commitments to action would be a violation of those values. It’s not enough to talk about racial justice. We have to be about it.

That’s why we committed to the following concrete actions to do our part to make Olmsted County a more just and equitable place for our Black, Brown, and Indigenous neighbors, as well as all people facing oppression.

Read the update in our most recent annual report to learn how we are taking action to:

  • Increase our investments in nonprofit agencies serving and led by people of color
  • Compensate community members for their time when we ask to learn from their lived experience and expertise
  • Provide additional intercultural competence training for staff and board
  • Develop a process for tracking purchasing from businesses owned by people of color and set goals for increasing our purchasing from businesses owned by people of color
  • Increase the diversity of vendors represented in our Caring Club Card program
  • Consistently implement best practices for equitable recruitment and hiring
  • Identify key performance measures to evaluate our progress in advancing equity in our organization and our community, begin collecting relevant data, hold ourselves accountable to those measures, and report publicly on our progress
  • Continue listening to and learning from our neighbors who experience systemic inequities and act on what we hear and learn.

This isn’t the start of United Way's race equity journey, and our work won’t be done when we’ve met these commitments.

We know we’ll make mistakes along the way, but we’ll keep showing up, learning, and doing the work. Won’t You Join Us?

United For Equity

Today’s Challenge: Do one or more of the following…

OPTION 1: Help us build back a better, more equitable Olmsted County. Invest in United Way of Olmsted County’s Culturally Powered Communities, a transformational capacity building program designed to strengthen the education, health, and financial stability of Olmsted County’s cultural communities by strengthening the organizations that serve them.

OPTION 2: Even though it may feel difficult at times to do so, use these strategies of Being an Active Bystander when faced with bias in interpersonal interactions. Adapt this Group Discussion Guide the next time friends and colleagues join you in discussion.

OPTION 3: To change, we must gain knowledge and understanding. Throughout our Olmsted County community, there are places we can physically go to learn more about the people and issues in our community. We're bringing back the Walk Around the World Scavenger Hunt from IMAA (Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association) as a guide to explore Olmsted County’s vibrant and diverse community. After each experience, consider the questions:

  • Why do you think it is important to be culturally competent?
  • What are some of your opportunities for growth when interacting with someone from a background or culture different from your own?

OPTION 4: Get involved by volunteering! Not only are you helping to make our community stronger, but you will also receive a lifetime of personal enrichment in return. To get started, check out Get Connected, a free, self-service volunteer portal provided by United Way of Olmsted County. Here, community members can browse relevant volunteer opportunities from our local nonprofit partners. 

OPTION 5: At one time or another in our journey, we may find ourselves hesitant to pursue change due to the fear of making mistakes. Read Beth Strano's untitled poem* below and write down three concrete things you can do to create and inhabit this space. *Note: On 11/1/21, it was brought to our attention that the version of this poem we originally shared in the October 21-Day Equity Challenge was plagiarized by Mickey ScottBey Jones. We would like to rightly attribute credit to Beth Strano who shared this poem via Facebook on June 25, 2021.


There is no such thing as a “safe space” —
We exist in the real world.
We all carry scars and have caused wounds.
This space
seeks to turn down the volume of the world outside,
and amplify voices that have to fight to be heard elsewhere,
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be
It will be our space together,
and we will work on it side by side.

by Beth Strano



Thank you for supporting United Way.

Invest today to join us in our continued journey to create a more equitable community!