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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties Continues ‘21 Week Equity Challenge’ with Community Conversations and New Podcast

Community-wide equity challenge engages residents from all over, sees success

KANKAKEE  – United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties has planned supplemental community conversations to pair with the 21 Week Equity Challenge. Anyone is welcome to join the monthly conversations, even if not yet signed up for the 21 Week Equity Challenge. The next community conversation is scheduled for Wednesday, April 7th from 9:00AM – 10:30AM via ZOOM. Residents can sign up via Eventbrite.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear how intensely people related to the challenge material. If everyone in the Kankakee area took racial equity this seriously, we’d be looking at a much more just community,” said an anonymous participant.

Racial equity is an issue all over America, including Kankakee and Iroquois Counties. In our community, 64% of Black households in Kankakee and Iroquois Counties are below the ALICE Survival Threshold. ALICE, an acronym for AssetLimited, Income Constrained, Employed represents a population that is oftentimes overlooked. ALICE represents the growing number of those who rank above the Federal Poverty Line (FPL), but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care, technology, and transportation.

The goal of this challenge and the community conversations is to equip residents to make lasting and equitable changesin our community.Following a year of unrest and strife, this free, online learning program and conversations will provide lessons and resources for community members to learn about racial issues and systemic inequalities, together.

A new podcast was created to supplement the 21 Week Equity Challenge. Robert Bushey and Shannon Swilley have collaborated to create the new Stony Road podcast which focuses on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Podcast episodes are available on Spotify and iTunes.

The United Way of Illinois 21 Week Equity Challenge encourages individuals, families, friends, and co-workers to have racial equity conversations to gain a deeper understanding of the impact systemic racism and inequality have on our state and in our local communities. United, we can help create a stronger, more equitable Illinois economy and stronger, more inclusive Illinois communities.

The 21 Week Equity Challenge is supported by Healing Illinois, the State of Illinois, The Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Illinois. The weekly curriculum was designed by United Way of Champaign, using evolving content originally created by United Way of Washtenaw County in Michigan. New challenge content will be released on a weekly basis.

This debrief conversation allowed me to see that I am not alone in my journey to improving my understanding on these important issues,” said an anonymous participant.

You can take the pledge today by visiting www.unitedwayillinois.org/equity-challenge.

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About United Way of Illinois

United Way of Illinois is an association of local United Ways representing communities across Illinois. We advance the common good through public policy. We monitor the activity of government, review legislation, and educate the general public and our public officials related to their impact on human services and on our local communities. To learn more, visit unitedwayillinois.org.

About United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties

For 80 years, United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties has mobilized caring people to invest in communities where resources are needed most. United Way brings direct service providers, the business and philanthropic communities, and local institutions together to tackle some of the biggest issues affecting our region. United Way is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, governed by a local volunteer board of directors. For more information, visit myunitedway.org.

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