By: Panchami Bhat
UWBA’s first ever Equity Forum was a day full of excitement, learning, discussion, and action.
Nonprofit professionals from across the Bay Area gathered at the Microsoft Conference Center to discuss systemic barriers to breaking the cycle of poverty, reflecting on their values, and celebrating each other’s successes. It was a day of thoughtful conversations, motivational speakers, and building on strategies to improve the lives of individuals struggling to make ends meet.
Here are four motivational quotes from the forum to help re-energize and give us hope to continue the fight against poverty.
“You as an individual are the greatest hope that we have for ourselves and our community. When collective power is activated, we yield the change we want to see, and we find the source of our deepest held values within. Look within for a moment – what do you burn for in your community? What universal value do you believe deep in your core that drives you to act?”
– Megan Joseph, Executive Director of Rise Together
“The biggest challenge of our era is interrupting how child experiences of poverty and adversity shape adulthood. The pathways that are set towards undermining the next generation of kids started with the childhood of their parents. How we respond to this is the global need of all interventions and dual-generation interventions – simultaneously trying to change the outcomes of a parent while changing the outcomes of a child. The life course involves understanding how where people end up is the cumulative result of early precursors and trajectories that are set in early childhood. It sticks, it stays, and affects the outcomes of our life.”
– Arnold Chandler, Forward Change Consulting, Principal and Co-Founder
“Through our letters correspondence program, we have members who write to people who are currently in prison or in jail. When you’re incarcerated, what brightens up your day the most is getting a letter and knowing that somebody is thinking about you. We also send people books, like if they’re studying for the GRE, we send prep books so that they have the tools they need to succeed.
We had our first graduation in 2016. This year was our second. We have a 100% graduation rate. Of the latest cycle of individuals we were working with, 17 out of 30 applicants got into UC Berkeley and the remaining 13 got into other UC’s. I think this is a phenomenal number because the standard rate of being accepted into UC Berkeley is about 15%, so our number was at a higher acceptance rate.”
– Clarence Ford, The Underground Scholars
“We have this sense of hope and optimism that it’s going to get lighter–at some point it’s going to get easier. Well, think about when you go to the gym. Do you ever think that somehow that 10-pound weight will somehow weigh less than 10 pounds the next time? The weight doesn’t get lighter – you get stronger. The miles don’t get shorter – you get faster.
Bringing forward one of our leaders, Jesse Jackson, who said “keep hope alive.” The importance of that statement is not just a rallying cry. When we are, like you, in the trenches every day, head down, and driving hard and trying to support the communities and families that we support; that can get heavy. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself losing hope and optimism. It’s important to keep your own hope alive, and your own candle lit, so that you are every day reminding yourself that you can do this, and that you are part of a community that can make some amazing transformational things happen.”
– Eric McDonnell, Chief Operating Officer of United Way Bay Area
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