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‘We are here to help one another grow’ Black History Month Equity Series continues

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) - Tuesday marked the second series of talks on equity hosted by the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission and the United Way of East Central Iowa.

The Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission and the United Way of East Central Iowa are partnering to host a series of equity conversations every Tuesday evening in February.

The purpose of the series is to build awareness and understanding around equity within the areas of education, financial stability, and health. 

Tuesday's talk spoke on actionable items people can do to reduce financial inequity . Along with CRCRC and UWECI’s partnership and nonprofit agencies working to address inequities.

Moderators included, Stefanie Munsterman-Scriven, Executive Director of the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission, and Angelica Vannatta, Senior Manager, Volunteer Engagement of the United Way of East Central Iowa.

One of the exercises in the series included a budget simulation as a single mom, who is living in poverty within Linn County.

Sofia DeMartino with Horizons Family Service Alliance, highlighted barriers within affordable housing.

"When you're a renter you are at the liberty of what they have chosen to put in place for you. Along with the home you can afford. Hopefully it's accessible to the places that you need to be like school, work and childcare," DeMartino said.

Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids discussed their mission and goals to help immigrants, refugees and women is crisis.

Executive Director, Paula Land, says needed stability lies within housing due to the derecho.

"Many affordable housing units were destroyed, and still in need for repair," Land said.

The actionable steps all parties mentioned was the act of job hunting training. Willis Dady Shelter's Denine Rushing, Rushing and her team offer training for their clients.

"Even though some of these interviews may be on zoom, we are still being able to provide those tools to these clients that are navigating the journey of obtaining employment," Rushing said.

Breakout groups spoke on the information given during the series. Groups also discussed certain policies in their opinion that could help remove multiple barriers disproportionately impact women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).

Certain policies included:

  • Health Care
  • Child Care
  • Education on choice of career
  • Moderation use of credit checks

The next series will be Feb. 16, the topic will focus on Equity and Health.

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Vinny Lowerre

Producer & Multimedia Journalist

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