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Project Equity Aims to Redesign a More Equitable and Sustainable Nonprofit Sector in the Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, and Faces International partner for a special initiative, Project Equity.  

Allentown, Pa., November 10, 2020—Lehigh Valley Community Foundation and United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley have partnered with Faces International to create a new initiative that will bring together nonprofit stakeholders in the region to create a common vision, values, and strategies for redesigning an equitable and sustainable nonprofit sector.  Project Equity: Redesigning the Lehigh Valley Nonprofit Sector” launched with the unveiling of the project website at: http://projectequitylv.com/ and a video raising awareness about the project.

“The underlying principle of Project Equity is the concept of ‘co-design’ which is when an organization and its stakeholders work together to design or rethink a service,” explained Megan Briggs, Director of Community Investments at Lehigh Valley Community Foundation. “We are inviting the people most affected by COVID-19 and systemic inequities into the problem-solving and decision-making space to co-design strategies to address how the nonprofit sector can rebuild in a way that focuses on equity and sustainability.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturn, and the heightened national consciousness on racial disparities has laid bare the systemic racism and historic disinvestment in our communities, as well as the stark inequities in our society. “The nonprofit sector is serving a vital need during this crisis, but is being stretched in many ways,” said Erin Connelly, Senior Director of Impact, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. “We need to operate differently to serve our community and we have an opportunity to rebuild in a way that focuses on equity and sustainability. Now is the time to ask how the Lehigh Valley nonprofit community could build an equitable, sustainable nonprofit sector together. It is with that vision in mind, that we are launching Project Equity.”

“This approach goes beyond creating a diversity plan or initiative where leadership overlays elements of diversity and inclusion overtop systemic inequities,” said Tyrone Russell, Chief Executive Officer of Faces International. “We’ll have the right people around the table. Together, they will dig into the core of our nonprofit sector and pull out a framework that inextricably connects missions to processes, donors to our neighbors, and equity to sustainability."

Kevin Greene, Chief Operations Officer at Faces added, “Equity is not about taking away what you have. It is about extending the table so we have the voices and expertise we need to achieve success.”

Project Equity will include four distinct phases that will ensure the initiative remains centered on equity and is a thorough and complete process. Consulting group TCC group will provide data and evaluation support for the initiative.

  • Phase One - Community-wide Launch
    The project begins with the creation of a “Design Team” made up of nonprofit and community representatives who will receive a grant to their respective organizations in recognition of their time.
     
  • Phase Two - Learn and Discover
    Design Team participants will engage in intensive dialogue about their experience in the nonprofit space. The team aims to understand what our community and nonprofit sector has experienced as the pandemic, racial injustice and an economic downturn converge.
     
  • Phase Three - Community Co-designing
    The Design Team will review data, answer key questions, and craft a common vision, values, and priorities for an equity-centered recovery and reimagining of the nonprofit sector.
     
  • Phase Four – Share and Act
    With a completed framework in hand, the information will be shared and distributed to all stakeholders within the Lehigh Valley.

“The outcome of Project Equity will enable the nonprofit sector to rethink how we are operating, imagine better alternatives, and co-create strategies to make those alternatives come to life.” Briggs explained further. “The project aims to center the community’s expertise and create a unified voice around the vision, values, and strategies in rebuilding from COVID-19. Through the process, we seek to build and deepen relationships and seed new partnerships.”

The project was initiated through the Strategic Response Team, a collaborative that began to meet to align and coordinate initial response and recovery efforts in the Greater Lehigh Valley. Project Equity is supported by a grant from the United Philanthropy Forum’s Momentum Fund, as well as donor contributions supporting COVID-19 relief efforts. 

About the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation

For more than five decades, the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation has helped donors with their charitable contributions with a simple, powerful, and highly personalized approach. LVCF connects people who care to causes that matter, grow their charitable legacies, and fund nonprofit organizations to improve the quality of life in the region. Learn more at: www.lvcfoundation.org

Mission of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley

The mission of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley is to provide the leadership, convene the partnerships, and develop the resources and solutions that improve our community.  We remain committed to these goals and sincerely appreciate the continued support of partners, program providers and donors throughout the Lehigh Valley. Learn more at: www.UnitedWayGLV.org

About Faces International

Established in 2012, FACES international, or Faces, is a team of highly skilled, efficiently trained, and experienced professionals offering services in six (6) distinct areas of focus: Team Building and Cultural Competence Training, Events, Design, Business Consulting, Digital Marketing, and Videography. These areas of service operate together in what is known as the “FACES Ecosystem.”  The common goal amongst all areas is to enhance the lives of community members and challenge each individual client receiving our services to strive for excellence. We have a very diverse clientele who have had the opportunity to become part of the intergenerational, and interconnected Ecosystem. Learn more at: https://facesint.com/.

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Contact:

Michael Wilson, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation

484-695-3277 | michael@lvcfoundation.org

Laura McHugh, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley

610-807-5701 | lauram@unitedwayglv.org