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Unity Statement | Focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This country is reeling from two horrible diseases: a worldwide viral pandemic that is ravaging our community, and a national disorder of racism that tears at the very fabric of our souls.  Systemic racism continues to contribute to the growing inequities in our communities.  We are suffering in our hearts for Black lives lost, for Black lives disregarded, and for Black lives without opportunity.

LVCF stands united with those calling for racial justice and access to the same freedoms for all people, and we recognize that change begins within.  We have taken these past few weeks to pause, to listen, to reflect, and to begin taking action. 

First, LVCF’s Board of Governors has committed to continuing the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion journey, including the adoption of a set of guiding principles.  Second, we have re-affirmed our support of nonprofits that are on their own diversity, equity, and inclusion journeys by continuing to include DEI in our nonprofit effectiveness grant platform. Third, we formalized our support of the United Way’s Fund for Racial Justice & Equity to partner with our community to continue efforts to seek solutions to systemic racism.  We have been exploring our role in community conversations on race, and we have begun hosting important entry points to this discussion.

Most importantly, as a funder and a steward of philanthropy, we recognize that we are in a position of power and privilege.  We must do more heavy lifting to shift dynamics and achieve change.  We have begun to ask ourselves: What barriers might be within our processes that need to be broken down to better partner with more diverse organizations, more leaders of color, and our communities of color?  How do we formally apply an equity lens to all that we do?  How do we use our voice as a community leader to amplify those who need to be heard?  These are hard questions to answer, but we commit to having the critical conversations and reflections that are needed to make change within and throughout. 

When partnering with organizations, we value those with a culture of learning and continuous improvement.  We hold ourselves to this same standard as we seek wisdom from others, while taking responsibility for educating ourselves and our stakeholders.  We will continue to share developments with you as we take action as a learning organization, growing and evolving during these challenging times.

We must stand together, plan for our shared future, and strive to improve the quality of life for all.

In solidarity | Lehigh Valley Community Foundation Staff 

July 2020