Virtual learning program aims to build awareness and understanding about race matters
United Way of Central Carolinas began its Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge this week with more than 13,000 individuals registered to participate and over 200 area businesses and organizations joining the effort as community supporters to help spread the word and encourage others to participate. The virtual activity includes 21 days of learning and self-discovery around issues of race, power, privilege and leadership that aim to help people develop more effective social justice habits and gain a deeper understanding of how inequity and racism affect us.
The Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge launched on Monday, January 18 in honor of the slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life’s work around civil rights and equality remains relevant in light of the many challenges we continue to face as a nation. Dr. King’s commitment to serving others is also part of the Challenge, with call-to-action opportunities benefitting area nonprofits and programs around childhood literacy, homelessness and food insecurity.
This week’s service project focuses on childhood literacy, with Challenge participants purchasing more than 900 children’s books written by Black authors to be distributed across United Way’s service area of Anson, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Mooresville-Lake Norman and Union. All service projects are outlined at uwccEquityChallenge.org/service.
There is no cost to participate in the self-guided Challenge; community members may register any time before February 15 at uwccEquityChallenge.org to receive Challenge emails with a selection of readings, videos, podcasts and ways to take action.
The first day of learning focused on race and racial identity, providing the foundation for upcoming topics, including legal system inequities, privilege and levels of racism. Participants receive an email each weekday with a different topic and are encouraged to reflect on the information through a daily journal and discussion guide. The content also includes subjects focusing on United Way’s community impact areas of education, health and financial stability.
“We are pleased to have thousands of people in the Charlotte region engaged in this learning opportunity to gain a better understanding of how race impacts our daily life and our community,” said United Way of Central Carolinas President and CEO Laura Yates Clark.
Support for the Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge is widespread among corporations in the Charlotte region, with Truist Financial Corporation, Bank of America and Lowe’s among the first to join the effort as Equity Champions and presenting sponsors.
“It’s our obligation as leaders in the business community to support forums that promote greater understanding and encourage these types of conversations within our company and the community that are starting points in driving meaningful change,” said Heath Campbell, Truist Charlotte/Metrolina Regional President, of the bank’s involvement.
Equity Ally sponsors include Accenture, Ally Financial, Atrium Health, Duke Energy, Equitable Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, Gambrell Foundation, McGuireWoods and TIAA. EY (Ernst & Young), First National Bank, Grant Thornton, Knight Foundation and Trane Technologies joined the project as Equity Partners in support of the Challenge and weekly service projects benefitting area nonprofits.
As sponsors, these corporations are committed to sharing the Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge activity with their employees to encourage participation. Several company executives will participate in panel discussions during a February 23 virtual Racial Equity Town Hall event that brings together Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge participants and subject-matter experts to broaden understanding of the issues related to racial equity.
The Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge supports United Way’s racial equity work in the community, including investments in our Unite Charlotte and United Neighborhoods initiatives. Through the Challenge, United Way hopes to build understanding, strengthen partnerships and help launch a lifelong commitment to improving equity and dismantling systemic racism in our community.
Organizations and businesses interested in adding their name to the list of supporters helping United Way to spread the word about the Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge should submit the form at uwccEquityChallenge.org/supporter.