United Way of Illinois Launches ‘21 Week Equity Challenge’

Statewide association invites all Illinois’ residents to take the learning challenge

GURNEE – United Way of Lake County joins United Ways across the state in the United Way of Illinois Equity Challenge, a 21-week program designed to encourage Illinois residents to engage in racial equity conversations.

The free online learning program will provide lessons and resources for Illinoisans to learn about racial issues and systemic inequalities.

“Our association, in partnership with local United Ways, is so excited to be taking this journey with our communities.” said Eithne McMenamin, director of public policy and advocacy for United Way of Illinois. “This is an excellent opportunity to learn, personally and professionally, have necessary conversations and equip our communities to engage meaningfully in the work of racial understanding and healing.”

The United Way of Illinois 21 Week Equity Challenge encourages individuals, families, friends and co-workers to have racial equity conversations to gain a deeper understanding about the impact that systemic racism and inequality have on our state and in our communities. United, we can help create a stronger, more equitable Illinois economy and stronger, more inclusive Illinois communities, the news release stated.

From Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18) to Juneteenth (June 19), participants will complete weekly learning assignments about equity, racism, bias and more. The 15-minute assignments include readings, videos and questions for participants to consider. Upon completion, participants will receive a digital certificate and tips and tools to help continue the conversation in their community.

The 21 Week Equity Challenge is supported by Healing Illinois, the State of Illinois, The Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Illinois.

The weekly curriculum was designed by United Way of Champaign using evolving content originally created by United Way of Washtenaw County in Michigan. New challenge content will be released on a weekly basis.

United Way of Lake County is proud to join United Way of Illinois and 43 other local United Ways across the state to embark on the 21 Week Equity Challenge. United Way staff and leadership will participate, as well as corporate partners, volunteers and donors.

“Tackling disparities and racism is about even more than the work we do in Lake County addressing education and connecting individuals and families to life-changing support through 211. It is about the work we do in our individual lives, too. Building an equitable community requires all of us to learn, expand our thinking and take action. The 21 Week Equity Challenge will help us begin building that foundational knowledge,” said Kristi Long, president and CEO of United Way of Lake County. “Our team at United Way of Lake County has accepted the challenge. We invite our neighbors, partners and donors across the county to join, too.”

Take the pledge by visiting www.unitedwayillinois.org/equity-challenge.