By Tamara Lucas Copeland, WRAG president and Yanique Redwood, chair of WRAG’s Board of Directors and president and CEO of Consumer Health Foundation
For the past three years, WRAG has been focused on racism and racial equity. We are pleased to share with you an update on how we will continue to elevate and embed this work in an ongoing and meaningful way.
At its June meeting, WRAG’s Board of Directors made a momentous decision that will affect WRAG and our work in perpetuity. The Board voted to elevate the pursuit of racial equity to an ongoing organizational commitment. Like many in our community and across the country, WRAG has been on a journey to understand the depth, breadth, and impact of structural racism and implicit bias. That journey has made clear to us the urgency with which the philanthropic sector must leverage all of its resources to dismantle structural racism, examine implicit biases within the sector, and commit to creating a racially equitable and just society. We believe that it is the role of WRAG to encourage and enable members that are also committed to this work. To have this level of commitment, WRAG will embed racial equity into all that we do as an organization, both internally and externally.
WRAG’s mission is “to promote increased, effective, and responsible philanthropy to improve the health and vitality of the region and all who live here.” This will not change. Racial inequity is at the root of the problems that philanthropy seeks to address in the discrete areas of housing, education, health, workforce, child welfare, and more. In order to work toward a healthier and more vital region, we must embrace our responsibility to work for a racially equitable region.
While WRAG’s programmatic priorities may shift as new issues affect the region, this organizational commitment is ongoing. It will undergird and permeate all that the organization does.
Over the next year, WRAG staff have committed to the following:
- WRAG will undergo an internal audit, a review of our policies, practices, and procedures to determine if they are racially equitable. The audit will occur this year to enable WRAG to financially plan for any changes or work that should occur beginning in January 2019.
- WRAG will provide learning opportunities for our various convening groups to inform them of how they may apply a racial equity lens to their work. For some groups, those conversations have already started. This is an effort to educate, but not to direct, the work of the Washington AIDS Partnership, working groups or affinity groups, on how racial equity affects the issue addressed by each group.
- WRAG will offer a training to its Program and Policy Committee to ensure that the leadership of our convening groups have a grounding in racial equity concepts.
- We will work to promote racial equity within our region and across sectors, as well as nationally, among other philanthropy-serving organizations.
Lastly, the WRAG Board is recruiting its next President and CEO and has prioritized racial equity in the search process.
WRAG will continue to elevate housing affordability as an organizational priority and may opt to take on other priorities in the future. The organization will also continue the work that it is doing through all of the working groups, affinity groups, and the Washington AIDS Partnership. With this organizational commitment, we believe we will be better positioning WRAG and our membership to apply our collective resources to the pursuit of a racially equitable region and a more just society.