United Way of Central Carolinas works to create lasting change for those most in need through strategic community philanthropy. Our mission compels us to work on improving the lives of historically and systemically excluded or marginalized people.
To do this, we must understand and incorporate racial equity in all that we do. We recognize that the social construct of race is the root cause of the systemic inequalities that oppress people of color. We also acknowledge that structural racism and other forms of oppression have contributed to persistent disparities in outcomes, which United Way of Central Carolinas seeks to dismantle.
We commit to leveraging our resources to create communities that are more equitable where everyone is able to achieve their full potential and thrive. Equity is achieved whey systemic, institutional and historical barriers based on race are dismantled and race no longer predicts socioeconomic, educational and health outcomes.
21-Day Racial Equity Challenge
As part of our commitment, United Way of Central Carolinas launched the Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge in January 2021—on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The virtual learning journey aimed to help participants develop more effective social justice habits around issues of race, power, privilege and leadership.
More than 15,680 individuals participated in the Challenge and 241 organizations and businesses joined as supporters. Leading by example, United Way of Central Carolinas had 100% staff participation in the effort.
Embodying Dr. King’s commitment to service, United Way of Central Carolinas invited the community to get involved in weekly call-to-action opportunities during the Challenge. Service activities included donation drives for children’s books by Black authors, socks and hygiene items for local shelters and non-perishable food to support local pantries.
The virtual and socially distanced service activities provided ways to assist area nonprofits and programs around childhood literacy, homelessness and food insecurity. Over 1,800 books and over 5,000 socks and hygiene items were purchased through agencies’ Amazon wish lists, with additional items being donated in person. Individuals and companies coordinated directly with agencies to deliver food donations safely.
What Participants Said
I always considered ‘privileged’ to mean born with a silver spoon in your mouth (wanting for nothing). However, after taking this Challenge, I begin to see the world in a whole new way. I also begin to see how I am unintentionally contributing to racial inequality and oppression by my lack of knowledge of how minority groups function. I am also realizing how I am privileged because I have never felt what it is like to fight for equality or justice because of my race. I have now opened my eyes and become enlightened to the injustices around me and will continue to seek more knowledge about racial equity. –Lori H., Challenge participant
I have shared specifics of each day’s challenges with friends and family who are not doing the 21-Day Challenge. The material has been useful to them, and much of the material has enhanced and enriched my understanding of racism issues, and provoked me to act. –Cole B., Challenge participant
I feel empowered to talk about what I learned [through the Challenge]. Since childhood, my feelings about race have been driven by my heart. I now feel I have facts and tools to put forth a discussion about racism. With that said, I still have much to learn and work to do on myself and in the community. –Cheryl S., Challenge participant
These 21 days blew my worldview about racial inequity wide open. There were three subjects in the Challenge that really had a major impact on me and my views regarding racial inequities: intersectionality, the information about white sensitivity to racial issues and the information regarding redlining and segregation that still exists today. I was unaware that these items existed, or continued to exist, and this taught me that I have a lot of learning and development to go through before I can claim to be truly ‘in the fight.’ I’m grateful for the education and enlightenment. –Brian C., Challenge participant
Here is the note I forwarded to my sons, along with links for them to review:
Dear sons, I have completed my 21-day program on racial justice. I want to include my children, who I consider to be highly aware of white privilege and lucky to have reached adulthood without concerns about getting shot or incarcerated. Let us all remain mindful and reach across the aisle as often as possible. In time, let us hope and work so there will be no aisle to reach across. Love you! Mom –Leslie S., Challenge participant
Racial Equity Virtual Town Hall
Shortly after the Challenge, more than 1,300 people registered for the Racial Equity Virtual Town Hall hosted by United Way of Central Carolinas. The event was an extension of topics covered during the Challenge, helping broaden our community’s understanding of racial equity issues.
The Town Hall featured keynote speaker Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., co-creator of the 21-Day Equity Challenge and director of The Privilege Institute, along with 28 panelists, moderators and local subject-matter experts. During five sessions, panelists spoke about racial equity and the role that inequity plays in various aspects of society—including the workplace, education, health, housing and financial stability.
Join the Learning Journey
Following the Challenge and Town Hall, United Way of Central Carolinas has heard from companies, organizations and people across our community that are continuing conversations and taking action to address the roles that race and systemic racism play in society.
Individuals and groups can still access the 21 days of Challenge content, Town Hall videos and other resources by signing up for free. Join us on this learning journey that aims to build understanding, strengthen partnerships and help launch a lifelong commitment to improving equity and dismantling systemic racism in our community.
Learn more about our United Way’s ongoing efforts to elevate diverse perspectives, champion inclusive programs and advance equitable outcomes.