Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) & Racial Justice

Acton-Boxborough United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of EVERY person in our community. 

Below are our Statements of Principle on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) and Racial Justice which outline our commitment to building a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient organization and community.

Acton-Boxborough United Way believes in a broad definition of diversity. We value both the unique visible and invisible qualities of each individual.  Visible diversity can be differences that stem from race, color, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, age, physical disabilities, faith and religion. Examples of invisible diversity can be lived experiences, education, income, diversity of thought, faith and religion, sexual orientation or national origin.

We acknowledge that these visible and invisible qualities make each of us unique. We see this diversity as a particular strength of our community. 

We welcome every person and their unique perspective and lived experience.  To be the community we want to become, we draw on the differences in who we are, what we’ve experienced, and how we think. 

We also believe that a remedy for underrepresentation of communities historically marginalized, not seen or heard is essential. Underrepresentation speaks to a lack of influence, power, and voice within our community and being alone or “othered”. Underrepresentation points to the need for equity and systemic changes.

Equity involves trying to understand and give people what they need to enjoy full, healthy lives. Equality, in contrast, aims to ensure that everyone gets the same things in order to enjoy full, healthy lives. Like equity, equality aims to promote fairness and justice, but equality assumes that everyone starts from the same place and needs the same things.

We seek to promote systemic equity -  systems, policies and patterns intentionally designed to create, support and sustain social justice. This also includes creating dynamic processes to strengthen and replicate equitable ideas, power, resources, strategies, conditions, habits and outcomes.

We believe that to serve everyone in our community, A-B United Way will seek to reflect the diversity within our community and seek to include everyone. Inclusion involves authentic and empowered participation and a true sense of belonging. We believe that no individual can thrive, unless they belong. We further believe that each community member and each of our donors, volunteers, advocates, and employees must have equal access to solving community problems. 

Acton-Boxborough United Way strives to meet our goals and objectives with regard to DEI in our community by applying this DEI lens across our organization and in all our work.  Intentionally, purposefully, however, the goal will be always just out of reach.  The work will be hard.  We will make mistakes.  But we will learn from our mistakes, persevere, and continue to strive to meet our DEI goals and objectives to build a better, improving and more welcoming community.

Each member of our community plays a role in advancing DEI and racial justice. Together, we must commit to the effort wholeheartedly.

For some of us, the work means summoning the courage to stand up and speak out, sharing opinions or experiences.

For others, the work means listening with patience and empathy, creating an environment conducive to dialogue even in circumstances that may make you uncomfortable.

And for all of us, the work means asking questions from the perspective of genuine, empathetic and inquisitive learning, respecting answers, being open to fresh perspectives, and, most importantly, appreciating one another’s contributions to the community.

Join A-B United Way in embracing diversity, equity and inclusion for every individual in our community so that every person can belong and thrive. 

Acton-Boxborough United Way affirms our commitment to anti-racist action in our communities and beyond.  

We denounce racism, colorism, ethnic or religious discrimination and oppression in all its forms. 

Colorism is the prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a darker skin tone.

Racism in any form is dehumanizing to everyone it touches.   

We stand in solidarity with those who have been calling for justice and working for so long to end institutionalized racism and white supremacy across our country, in our Commonwealth and in our towns and neighborhoods.  

Racism encompasses more than just racial prejudices.  Racism also involves social, institutional, and systemic power.  Bias and racism can be unconscious or unintentional. We all have internalized many stereotypes, biases, myths, and conditionings that lead to biases and racism.  Racism is a poisonous combination of social and institutional power with racial prejudice.  Bias and racism, intentional or unintentional, hurt and wound individuals, families, communities, and our towns.  We believe in the sanctity of safety for every neighbor. If one neighbor does not feel safe, it is not their problem, it is our problem as a community.  

Identifying racism as an issue does not always mean that those involved in the act are racist or intended harm or the negative impact. We recognize that there are systems and policies that were designed to marginalize people and the extent of the harm is only beginning to be acknowledged.  Regardless of any individual’s own race or ethnicity, we are all at various points along an anti-racist journey. To help build an anti-racist and ethnically unbiased community, A-B United Way will purposefully strive to identify, discuss, and challenge issues of race, skin color, ethnicity, or religious discrimination and its damaging impacts on all members of our community. 

A-B United Way recognizes that anti-racist work requires action by all members of our community. The work cannot be left to our community’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion public institutions, but must be undertaken and embraced by all of us. The work or burden should not be carried by residents from marginalized or targeted communities. The work of deepening our anti-racist education must be paired with purposeful systemic changes to promote racial equity within our communities.  Disrupting harmful patterns requires deep listening and learning before healing can start.  

A-B United Way stands committed to the hard work of taking in the data and information needed, and taking action as a result.  Some of us are unpracticed and uncomfortable talking about, let alone leading, initiatives around race and systemic racism.  The discomfort can be real.  And if we shy away from it, it can be an obstacle to change.  What literally has been given centuries to root will not be unearthed overnight.  

Building the capacity to be anti-racist takes commitment over time, hard work, uncomfortable conversations and action. We know that the results – a stronger community – are well worth it.  A-B United Way stands committed to sustainable change, acknowledging the discomfort, and pushing forward. 

Systemic racism in our local community is not an issue that can be addressed superficially.  It will take a deep commitment from all community partners and residents to make the changes that are necessary.

A-B United Way is committed to putting anti-racism at the heart of our work. We intend to engage our community, to offer a safe platform to learn, build, and act on an anti-racist agenda and to be accountable for doing so. 

Join A-B United Way to make our community a place where every neighbor has a voice, feels safe and belongs.