June 09, 2020

The Time to Act Is Now

Equity Photo“I saw a video the other day of a group of white people standing in front of a group of black protesters. Suddenly, the white people knelt down in front of the black protesters, seemingly praying, apologizing and asking for forgiveness. No one was speaking in the version I watched, so I interpreted their body language to mean, ‘This is wrong, we apologize and we want this to stop.’ On the faces of the black protesters you could see tears, shock and an acceptance of the moment. I remember thinking that was such a powerful moment, but something still seemed to be missing. A day later, I watched the same video, but shot from a different angle. This time the group of black protesters also knelt. I leapt to my feet! That was the moment that I needed to see. No one was escaping or placing blame, and everyone was saying, ‘Enough is enough’”.

These words were written by a Dayton Foundation staff member who is African American and, like me and many of you, is tired, frustrated and looking for a way to help. I won’t go down the long list of injustices that have happened around the world and right here in our community, but I will say there are too many names, too many hurting people and too many years of injustice to count. And all of it is wrong.

The tragic events that have transpired over the last several weeks have again brought to light the racial injustices that too many of our fellow citizens endure. While I don't pretend to have the right words or all of the answers, I know one thing for certain. Now is the time for all of us to push equity issues to the forefront. We need to do more, and we need to do better.

The Dayton Foundation has had a continual focus and priority on addressing inequity within our region. We’ve collaborated with regional partners on initiatives designed to tackle these issues head on and help level the playing field for our underrepresented and minority populations. While this has been important and significant work, bolder action and results are needed.

With this in mind, I believe that there’s nothing more important we can do right now than launch an initiative we have been collaborating on behind the scenes for some time now - the Institute for Livable and Equitable Communities. This partnership with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, Del Mar Healthcare Fund of The Dayton Foundation, AARP/WHO and Learn to Earn Dayton, as well as local business, healthcare, nonprofit and higher education institutions, will build a coalition of key allies and participants throughout the region to work together to create an equitable, age-friendly and livable community for all.

The challenges we face as a community are deeply embedded from literally hundreds of years of inequity. All the members of our community who are impacted by these inequities need a stronger voice and place for action. The Institute is a bright light of hope to provide a persistent, collective and systemic way in which, together, we can work over the coming months and years to:

  • provide a permanent, sustainable and deliberate way in which our entire region can come together to work on the most stubborn and complicated issues around equity, ageism and racism;
  • bring together in a collaborative way key stakeholders and the community to identify strategies and action steps; and
  • institutionalize racial equity and age-friendly best practices.

Stay tuned for ways you can support this critical initiative.

Looking for Ways to Help?

For those of you looking for additional ways to support efforts to stop racial injustice, we encourage you to support groups on the front lines in our community that are working for equity and enhancing the lives of minorities such as Dayton Unit NAACP, National Conference for Community and Justice of Greater Dayton (NCCJ), Parity, Inc., Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc., (ABLE), CO-OP Dayton (Gem City Market) and the African-American Community Fund of The Dayton Foundation , to name a few. If you are a Dayton Foundation fund holder, you may recommend grants to nonprofit organizations that support this work through Donor Express. For assistance in identifying other nonprofit organizations that advance racial equity in our community, please contact us at (937) 222-0410.

Let’s take what we’ve learned from recent tragic events and centuries of injustice and turn it into the momentum we need to make Greater Dayton a better place not just for some, but for all.

Make a gift through your Dayton Foundation advised fund via Donor Express .

Learn more about efforts to combat racial injustice and inequity through the Institue for Livable and Equitable Communities.

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File date: 06.08.20

Mike Parks

“I believe that there’s nothing more important we can do right now than launch an initiative we have been collaborating on behind the scenes for some time now - the Institute for Livable and Equitable Communities.”– Michael M. Parks, president of The Dayton Foundation

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