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Dear United Way Colleagues,

I am pleased to share United Way’s Equity Framework! This Framework is a resource to help United Ways in the U.S. to identify, develop and implement impact strategies, practices, processes and messaging to drive equitable community change.

Our mission is to mobilize the caring power of communities to advance the common good. We envision inclusive, resilient and equitable communities. We engage donors, advocates, volunteers and partners to join us in fighting to ensure that every person in every community has access to a quality education, including the knowledge, skills and training they need to attain jobs that pay good wages, and the ability to live a healthy life.

For too many individuals and families, access to a better life remains elusive. To achieve our vision, we must understand and address the underlying factors that impede progress. By challenging practices based on racism, sexism, and other historical and current forms of discrimination, we can create more inclusive communities and equitable outcomes. We must be a leader in the fight for equity and strive to create communities where everyone has the resources, opportunities, and support they need to thrive.

This Equity Framework is best used in conjunction with the Equity Toolkit (Living United: A Guide for Becoming a More Equitable Organization toolkit focused on “getting your house in order”). The Equity Toolkit focuses on United Way as the unit of change, and the Equity Framework focuses on the community as the unit of change. The Framework is focused on your work externally with community residents and partners to create more equitable communities.

The Framework and the Toolkit are both overarching critical success factors of our Blueprint for a Modern United Way. It is important to embody the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our internal organizational practices. A Modern United Way must also work to engage community residents, particularly those who have been historically marginalized. By working with residents, we can identify and understand persistent, systemic inequities to create impact solutions that help advance inclusive growth and opportunity. This emphasis reflects the understanding that a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our work is essential to the continued relevance of United Way as a partner of choice. It is imperative that our work addresses the most critical, pressing issues within and across communities in the United States.

We are proud of United Ways who are trailblazers in this work. They remind us that we can always make a difference and be more equitable in engaging with the community, diversifying our boards and staff, and improving vendor procurement. We are especially grateful to the United Ways who contributed to the development of this framework. Many of their stories are highlighted throughout the tool.

As our U.S. network embraces an explicit equity lens and understands its impact on our work, we are here to support you in your efforts to lead in new ways. We only succeed when the communities we serve, and our overall society succeeds.

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Yours in equity and inclusion,
Suzanne McCormick
U.S. President, United Way Worldwide

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