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Community Members Help Prioritize Equity Actions Ideas

January 30, 2019
Nearly 50 community members came out to take part in a Voices for Education celebration on Monday night. The event, which was co-facilitated by a pair of EHS students, was a follow up to the community summit that VFE hosted (It Takes A Village: Voices for Equity & Belonging) in December, as participants were presented with the key themes and recommendations.

 

At the summit in December, VFE received over 250 individual and community action ideas, which were themed into the following buckets:

 

Individual Action Ideas

  • Participate in community events and stay connected through ongoing conversation, use of social media...
  • Continue to educate ourselves and our young people about assumptions, different perspectives/biases, and empathy
  • Make connections, volunteer, and expand our network...
  • Speak out for people when you witness injustice, advocate for organizational change

 

Community Action Ideas

  • Equity audit in schools
  • Create a mechanism for ongoing communication and engagement
  • Diversify participation and  community leadership in the community
  • Offer free meals to ALL students
  • Hire more diverse staff (including people of color) in school and community organizations
  • Remove barriers and increase equitable access to students and other community members

 

Following the summit, VFE invited community partners to review all the ideas and discuss possible priorities. From that work, the following recommendations were given:

 

1.) Organize the community’s efforts around four key areas of work:

    1. Hold Community Conversations & Workshops
    2. Establish an Essex Westford School District Equity Advisory Group
    3. Curate Community Equity Resources
    4. Diversify Community Leadership and Civic Participation

2.) Establish an Equity Commission to help move some of this work forward

 

Participants were then given a chance to react to these recommendations and reflect on whether anything important was missing. VFE realizes this work requires more than just the school district to be involved and will need participation from the full community.  

 

There was a lot of energy and eagerness in the room to move this work forward and VFE will now incorporate the feedback received into a revised set of recommendations and share broadly with the community when that is complete.