Effort aims to expand shared knowledge and understanding of historic and persistent inequities in the community 

DETROIT — United Way for Southeastern Michigan is proud to announce its third annual 21-Day Equity Challenge, starting on Friday, May 19 and continuing to June 16, 2023. The initiative aims to engage individuals across the region, fostering awareness and inspiring solutions to address systemic inequities and bias prevalent in our workplaces and communities. 

Recognizing the transformative power of equity and inclusion, Tonya Adair, Chief People, Equity, and Engagement Officer at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, emphasized the significance of a collective understanding and appreciation for everyone, stating, “A clear understanding and appreciation of people makes us all stronger. This work has been integral to our organization for the past three years, informing every facet of our work and grant-making. As we enter our third challenge, we remain committed to addressing the most pressing challenges in our region.” 

In 2020, United Way for Southeastern Michigan established an internal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee comprising diverse staff members who drew upon pioneering content developed by United Way chapters nationwide. This group spearheaded internal and external organizational efforts to enhance staff and community understanding of equity issues, seamlessly integrating equity into every aspect of United Way’s initiatives. 

Building on the committee’s work and the work of United Way in Washtenaw County, a dedicated team developed the 21-Day Equity Challenge explicitly tailored to Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. The challenge recognizes that every individual is on a unique journey toward understanding the value of equity and inclusion. Regardless of their backgrounds or experiences, participants can expect to gain fresh insights and perspectives by engaging in this transformative challenge. 

Once registered for the Challenge, participants will receive daily emails starting Friday, May 19, and continuing for 21 workdays. Each email will focus on a different racial equity topic, briefly introducing and offering choices for participants to spend approximately 15 minutes learning, watching, reading, or reflecting on the day’s theme. The challenge is self-guided, allowing participants to engage at their own pace. Emails can be saved for later review, and individuals can sign up and commence their 21-day journey at any time after May 19. 

Adair highlighted the organization’s commitment to ensuring equitable access to training, support, and tools contributing to the communities’ success, stating, “We value all voices and want our entire community to thrive. We must understand our history and the underlying factors driving these disparities to achieve this. By taking the initiative to learn, grow, and educate ourselves and others, we actively contribute to building a brighter future for our region.” 

United Way is inviting everyone to sign up, participate, and share this transformative experience with friends, family, and colleagues. To learn more about the challenge and register, click here. To receive Challenge emails, click here. 

As the challenge continues, individuals are encouraged to explore content from the previous years’ challenges, including information and activities that delve deep into various equity-related issues.  

For questions related to the challenge, please contact Jerome Espy, director of Media Relations at (248) 417-9567 or Jerome.Espy@liveunitedwaysem.org. 

About United Way for Southeastern Michigan   

United Way for Southeastern Michigan, a member of the United Way Worldwide network and an independently governed 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, works to help households become stable and ensure children have the support they need to thrive. For more than one hundred years, United Way has been a leader in creating positive, measurable, and sustainable change in communities throughout southeast Michigan. United Way works in partnership with donors, agencies, corporate and municipal partners to help families meet their basic needs of housing, food, health care and family finances, and ensure children start school ready to learn and graduate ready for life. To give, advocate, volunteer or learn more, visit UnitedWaySEM.org.