Building a Stronger Community: Exploring Change Often's Collaborations and Partnerships Part 2
In our ongoing commitment to Igniting Hope to inspire the potential for Change, Change Often is proud to present the second installment of our blog series! (Visit here for the first blog focused on Building a Sustainable Future: Community Investment & Development). This edition focuses on projects and Impact Partners centered around social equity and empowerment of marginalized communities. We believe that by partnering with organizations that share our vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion, we aim to not only create a more inclusive and equitable High Point, but a world in which systemic barriers are eliminated.
High Point Market Authority & High Point Market | Diversity Advocacy Alliance
BIPOC professionals deserve access, opportunities, and a chance to thrive — with this project, we're creating a City in which that's possible.
Since November 2021, we have had the privilege of collaborating with the High Point Market Authority (HPMA) to create, facilitate, and sustain a transformative initiative known as the Diversity Advocacy Alliance (DAA). As the largest home furnishings industry trade show in the world and the largest economic event in North Carolina, HPMKT holds immense influence in the furnishings industry. The DAA is a dedicated group comprised of 14 members, along with 6 additional subcommittee members, who come together monthly to advance, improve, and support diversity by cultivating a welcoming environment and expanding the representation of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community within the home furnishings industry and its leadership.
The Diversity Advocacy Alliance (DAA) stands as a testament to the power of collaboration between Change Often and the High Point Market Authority. Through this transformative partnership, the DAA is poised to lead the home furnishings industry towards greater equity, representation, and inclusion. By embracing diversity and amplifying underrepresented voices, the DAA and HPMA are driving change that extends far beyond the trade show and into the very fabric of the community they serve. Together, we endeavor to break down barriers, challenge existing norms, and cultivate an industry that reflects the richness and strength of its diverse community.
Working with High Point Market Authority gave us an incredible opportunity to connect with leaders in one of the largest industries in our region. High Point Market Authority's deep and sincere commitment to equity and innovation allowed a truly authentic collaboration experience where all stakeholders felt comfortable articulating their vision for the future. From there, we were able to co-create an action plan that meets really specific industry needs!
I could have never guessed that my passion for delivering equity to communities would involve collaborating with High Point Market Authority. The opportunity to challenge, and be challenged by, HPMA, the Diversity Advocacy Alliance, and the furnishings industry is one that I am happy to be a part of.
The Duke Endowment | Find It Here: BIPOC-Led Nonprofits Serving Youth 8 & Under in Guilford County
Because of collaborators like The Duke Endowment, I am hopeful that solutions for eliminating systemic racism and unfair advantages can be implemented and sustained.
Since 1924, The Duke Endowment has worked to help people and strengthen communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. The Duke Endowment focuses primarily on four program areas and builds off of strong connections with grantees and community partners: Child & Family Well-Being, Higher Education, Health Care, and Rural Church. We partnered with The Duke Endowment to curate "Find It Here: 2022 BIPOC-Led Nonprofits Serving Youth Under the Age of 8 Years Old and Families in Guilford County." This endeavor aimed to identify, profile, and amplify the voices of BIPOC-led community-focused nonprofit organizations serving children and their caregivers within Guilford County.
This project is a demonstration of how our work requires more than one impact partner. Over 50 nonprofit professionals and community leaders actively participated in the process of providing feedback and suggesting qualifying organizations. We cataloged 67 qualifying organizations, which showcased 32 BIPOC-led organizations with both board and staff leadership, and an additional 35 organizations led either by BIPOC board members or staff. Of these, 62 are registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits, while 2 are pending 501(c)(3) status, and 2 are unregistered. The organizations serve diverse populations across various specialties, such as learning enrichment, literacy, STEAM, sports, and special population support, among others.
The joint effort between Change Often, the Duke Endowment, and supporting organizations signifies a meaningful step towards a more inclusive and representative nonprofit sector, empowering organizations that are changing lives every day. "Find It Here: 2022 BIPOC-Led Nonprofits Serving Youth Under the Age of 8 Years Old and Families in Guilford County" highlights the importance of access within the nonprofit sector. Our relationship with The Duke Endowment resulted in a strategy to address the need for a shift in grantmaking culture.
Having the opportunity to shine light on overlooked, yet, deserving organizations meant so much to me because those are the people doing the work that changes so many lives. Continued partnerships means empowered communities, which creates the future we want, and need.
North Carolina Commission on Racial & Ethnic Disparities | Capacity Building Services for the Enhancement of Nonprofit Management
NC CRED is creating the space for individuals to work together to create systemic change, which makes this work so meaningful.
North Carolina Commission on Racial & Ethnic Disparities (NC CRED) is a nonpartisan organization that works across professional, political and ideological lines to identify, document, and develop strategies to reduce racial disparities in North Carolina’s juvenile and criminal justice systems. Change Often and NC CRED work together to enhance the internal operations of the organization, along with increasing impact across the State with convenings, events, and dialogue.
In April of 2023, NC CRED and Change Often hosted Undue Harm: Undoing the Legacy of Confederate Monuments. This transformative event left nearly 100 participants emotionally moved and deeply impacted. “Undue Harm” delved into multiple perspectives about the results of confederate monuments, unveiling the urgency to dismantle the symbols and actuality of white supremacy. Discourse led by 15 speakers prompted the acknowledgement of suffering confederate monuments cause and paths to confront them.
The partnership between NC CRED and Change Often is proof that our collaborative approach advances equity and justice. By working hand in hand, we exemplify a dynamic model for change, one that leverages the strengths of two organizations (or more) to drive revolutionary shifts in policies and practices. Regular stakeholder engagement and activities ranging from educational opportunities for the judicial system to lifting up other partners in the criminal justice system, are maximized because of the numerous individuals and organizations that are bought into the success of not only NC CRED, but the empowerment of marginalized communities, including those impacted by the criminal justice system.
I most enjoy working with NC CRED's Commission members. The Commission is comprised of judges, attorneys, nonprofit leaders, elected officials, and community members, all of whom share a passion for making North Carolina's criminal justice system more equitable.
High Point University Center for Community Engagement | Identifying Leaders in Anti-Racist Work | Case Studies & Instructional Resources for Reference Site
What's the point of an organization serving the community if it's not going against the systems that forced them to need help?
One of the most influential organizations in High Point is High Point University. As a way to serve the community, HPU started its Center for Community Engagement (HPU’s CCE), serving as the central hub for connecting university and community resources. The partnership between Change Often and HPU’s CCE identified best practices in Anti-Racist community engagement programming and policies, created resources to empower area organizations to implement these practices, and showcased local organizations as case studies to demonstrate the practices in action.
The results of our collaboration lives with the Community Builders Task Force a grassroots initiative facilitated by YWCA High Point comprised of residents committed to the work of anti-racism. Other impact partners for this project include YWCA High Point and the Buzz Effect. The reality of Change Often is that we can’t do everything; but one thing we can do is find someone who can do something.
Through collaboration, research, and resource development, the partnership between Change Often and HPU’s CCE has advanced the fight against racism within the community. By empowering organizations with knowledge, tools, and examples, the project fosters a more inclusive and equitable environment in High Point, fostering positive change for years to come
While projects have a start and end date, the collaboration and partnerships Change Often develops are long lasting. We take pride in serving side-by-side with HPU’s Center for Community Engagement as our Team includes several VISTA Alumni and Bonner Alumni, and engage with community partners in different projects and community events.
Partnering with High Point University to dive into the antiracist work being done in our community was a positive and motivating experience. I had the special opportunity to work side by side with HPU AmeriCorps VISTAs to speak with nonprofit leaders in our city. Recording and uplifting the concrete steps organizations take to promote racial equity models innovation and keeps momentum going!
While I believe all organizations should be anti-racist, it is hard for me to believe in forcing them to be because it isn't genuine. However, providing organizations that want to do better with tools and resources to actively practice anti-racism was something I saw benefit in. Partnering with High Point University's Center for Community Engagement to create the anti-racist rubric resulted in access for nonprofits and removed excuses.
Let all of these partnerships demonstrate the ability for meaningful action to take place in our communities when we come together. In addition to Igniting Hope, our team is the embodiment of Passion Driven, one our values that means we still believe that the world can be saved and that the decisions we make today will determine outcomes for generations to come. Our passion for changing the world is what drives us and is fueled by the things that matter the most to us. Equity matters to us. Diversity matters to us. Antiracism matters to us. And our partners are the only way we get these things done.
Be sure to stay connected for inspiring tales of collaboration and social innovation in our forthcoming blog series! We also invite you to learn more about Change Often and our Change Agents during August as we celebrate 5 years of collaboration and social innovation!