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Washtenaw United: Working Toward Racial Equity In Washtenaw County

Alize Asberry Payne
Washtenaw County

Washtenaw County is one of the economically vibrant communities in southeast Michigan.  Yet, there are socio-economic and racial disparities to work through.  That is why the county has created the position of Racial Equity Officer.  Alize Asberry Payne is the first person to take the title and joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the "One Community" initiative in this week's "Washtenaw United."

WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw Countyto explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area.  And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services.  It is a community voice.  It is 'Washtenaw United.'


Alize Asberry Payne is a lifelong social justice changemaker and the first Racial Equity Officer for Washtenaw County.


One Community-Washtenaw County

Washtenaw County Equity Policy

Build Your Equity Muscle


Inequities hurt everyone, United Way of Washtenaw County is focusing on removing barriers and increasing access so all people have the opportunity to thrive.
In 2017, we committed to equity as a core value and practice to advance our mission.  We define equity as the presence of justice and fairness within our procedures, processes, and distribution of resources.

In all our roles we will consciously work to eliminate injustice and inequity.  We aspire to live in a community where:

  • Community members seek understanding and awareness using their own power and privilege and actively working to end poverty in our County;
  • Your zip code no longer determines your opportunity in life;
  • The academic achievement gap is eliminated;
  • Everyone in our community has a home;
  • Life expectancy is the same across all populations and communities in our County;
  • Poverty is not generational.  If it exists, it is intermittent and brief;
  • Everyone in our County is able to thrive and meet their needs-- housing, food, transportation, education, health expenses, and childcare.



Below are data points that illustrate what United Way of Washtenaw County community investments look like when viewed through an equity lens:


We invite you to join us on this journey, learn more about Equity.

In January, we will be inviting the whole community to join us on a 21-Day Equity Challenge*.  Participation in an activity like this helps us to discover how racial injustice and social injustice impact our systems, to connect with one another, to identify ways to dismantle racism and become better leaders for a more just, equitable community.  Check back to sign-up!

*The 21-Day Equity Challenge was designed by Food Solutions New England to replicate in communities throughout the country

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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