At its Annual Meeting in November 2021, the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations committed to a Racial Equity Pledge, upholding their dedication to making their organization a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive place. As of June 2022, 28 member organizations have signed on to the pledge as well. The pledge stemmed from a push for more racial equity from the CDC movement in the summer of 2020. Organizations who have adopted the pledge are signing on to embrace four key values:
- committing to learning and addressing the different levels of racism so they can take action to dismantle those inequities;
- their staff should be diverse, equitable, inclusive, and representative of the communities they serve;
- their board should be diverse, equitable, inclusive, and representative of the communities they serve; and
- authentic representation in programming/services.
Harborlight Community Partners provides and advocates for affordable and inclusive housing in communities north of Boston, such as Beverly and Hamilton, through property management, real estate development, resident services, and public education. Prior to signing onto the Racial Equity Pledge in December 2021, they were engaged in discussions regarding racial equity. Those conversations were paused in the summer of 2020, to seek out CDC wide efforts and movements to address issues of racial inequity.
“We’re looking at MACDC’s pledge format and trying to plan around that, the action items to take to further our objectives in this space, to advance substantively education and knowledge in the staff and board... as well as some technical items around how we’re functioning, how we’re investing time, energy, money, how we’re recruiting for the board, staff, and other groups” said Andrew DeFranza, Executive Director of Harborlight, on how the pledge is intersecting with their prior racial equity work.
Harborlight has been working to increase representation, equity, inclusivity, and diversity in all levels of their work. “The main issue with it had been holding seats on the board for people of color...and you have to find people who want to do it, in the region, who have statistically little access. It's harder to find people who are interested, who are qualified, and have the experience,” said DeFranza of challenges with this work. “We're very active on the development front for the percentage of minority workers hours in our MBE participation, and that’s been quite successful”.
Looking into the future, DeFranza is “very supportive and interested in the idea of going upstream and providing training and internship capacity to get to younger candidates of color...to create a pipeline.” Providing young candidates of color with these opportunities early on will help address challenges CDC’s face when it comes to representation among their staff and board, he said.
MACDC hosts meetings for both members who have already adopted the pledge and for those who are considering it. To support members in their implementation, we also offer member-only workshop opportunities through the Mel King Institute. For more information and a full list of adoptees, visit the Racial Equity Webpage.
Mila Roemer is a student at Northeastern University and MACDC's Communications Intern.