Equity Framework –Why This Matters
As an organization supporting independent living for Portland area seniors and people living with disabilities, our clients are members of an extremely marginalized and overlooked community, and are at high-risk for food insecurity, isolation, and displacement from their homes. Store to Door recognizes that systemic injustices such as racism, ageism, ableism, and sexism exist and that they create and perpetuate conditions of hunger, loneliness and institutionalization among the elderly and disabled. And while we are committed to ensuring equitable distribution of our services to diverse populations, including those of color, we acknowledge that we have historically underserved these groups.
Our board made a commitment to equitable outreach in 2015 when we realized that 90% of our clients were white and not representative of Multnomah County. In 2016, the board and staff established an Equity Team to focus our outreach efforts on populations that were underrepresented in our client base – seniors of color with disabilities. This population is 3 times more likely than their white counterparts to live in poverty and is therefore more at risk for hunger, isolation, homelessness and institutionalization. As our equity journey continued, the board adopted an Equity Plan in 2017, and then further developed the Equitable Outreach Plan in 2018 with a focus on intentional inclusion of clients. By aligning our strategic growth with an Equitable Outreach Project, we are ensuring that Store to Door proportionately recruits new clients from diverse backgrounds and serves them with cultural competency.
Work to Date Towards Equity Goals
Thanks to the support of community partners such as Meyer Memorial Trust, Metro Central Enhancement, Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund, and Oregon Community Foundation, we are making significant steps to support the goals within our Equitable Outreach Plan.
We are proud to share the following results to date in our equity journey:
- All Staff and All Board Members received Equity Training by CEI.
- Our Equity Statement was finalized and released.
- Adopted Equity Lens tool which is utilized as part of our decision make processes.
- Adopted an Agreements tool which is used to ‘set the table’ for meetings and discussion.
- A review of internal practices and official policies was completed to identify, call out and address micro-aggressions and institutional biases, impacting client and volunteer enrollment forms, marketing and recruitment materials, and our website and social media accounts.
- An equity scan has been integrated in weekly staff meetings and bi-monthly board meetings to foster a culture that addresses institutional inequities in an honest way, despite awkwardness.
- Established relationships with the following culturally specific organizations: IRCO, Familias En Accion, Asian Health and Services Center, EasterSeals/Latino Connection (Portland & Beaverton offices), El Programa Hispano, Cascade Aids Project, Urban League, Latino Connection, Friendly House’s SAGE Metro Portland Program.
Future Plans Towards Equity Work:
We will continue to strengthen relationships with organizations serving culturally specific clients, and will utilize these partnerships to recruit clients and volunteers and grow our delivery capacity with the intent to reach underserved populations. The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis projects that the population of seniors in Oregon will grow by 35% over the next ten years. Within the senior population, it is expected that 10% will experience poverty, and 30% will live with a disability. According to recent census data, there are roughly 5,000 such people residing with our service footprint, who could benefit from our program, many of which are underserved members of the community. In response, we are investing in capacity building and technology improvements in 2019 and 2020 which will help increase program efficiency moving forward while making progress towards our equitable outreach goals.
While we have more work to do in this area, with the support of community partners, a passionate Equity Team made up of both staff and board members, and a comprehensive Equitable Outreach Plan, Store to Door is uniquely positioned to reach our equity goals and ensure nourishment and connection for all seniors and adults with disabilities in need.