Washtenaw United: Reflections On The UWWC's 21-Day Equity Challenge
The United Way of Washtenaw County's 21-Day Equity Challenge is at an end. For this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair welcomes three guests who reflected on their participation in the challenge, what they learned individually, and how they can carry the message forward. A Brighter Way executive director Aaron Suganuma, Building Matters Ann Arbor executive director Jessica A.S. Letaw, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County enrollment coordinator Capri Ervin.
WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw County to 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.'
ABOUT THE GUESTS:
Aaron Suganuma is Executive Director at A Brighter Way, a mentoring and social support program for men and women returning to Washtenaw County from incarceration. He has worked as a substance abuse counselor in residential, outpatient, and prison-based settings. He is actively engaged in direct service and advocacy efforts related to criminal justice. He holds a master’s degree in social work from Eastern Michigan University and completed his associate’s degree while serving 4.5 years in prison.
Jessica A.S. Letaw
Jessica is the executive director of Building Matters Ann Arbor, an organization dedicated to exploration, education, and advocacy around a future for our city that is more beautiful, diverse, equitable, and sustainable. Jess also works for the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, is a member of the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce Policy Committee, and founder of the local housing advocacy group Ann Arbor YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard). Past projects include consulting on the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum's "Towards Net Zero" Building in a Building exhibit update and serving on the Ecology Center's Development and Communications Committee. Committed to community organizing around housing, affordability, and accessibility, Jess believes that a thriving community is one that works well for everyone.
Capri Ervin currently serves as a Mentor Coordinator: Enrollment. Capri is a proud graduate from the Detroit Public School System (currently DCS) and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County, she worked as a Teacher's Assistant at Scarlett Middle School and as Program Manager at Girls Group. She is passionate about bringing people together, encouraging others and building relationships which is the motivation behind everything she does. Capri hopes to one day become a life coach and help other companies expand their youth programming skills. When she is not working she enjoys reading, encouraging others through writing, fashion, and music. She is the co-founder of a local book club, business owner, blogger, and devout family member.
Inequities hurt everyone, United Way of Washtenaw County is focusing on removing barriers and increasing access so all people have the opportunity to thrive. To that end, we are inviting the whole community to join us on a 21-Day Equity Challenge* kicking-off on Jan 6. 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. Sign-up online now: uwgive.org/equity or by texting UWWCEQUITY" to 22828.
*The 21-Day Equity Challenge was designed by Food Solutions New England to replicate in communities throughout the country.
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:
Right now in Washtenaw County, the data show:
We invite you to join us on this journey, learn more about Equity: uwgive.org/equity
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