All (Sanitized) Hands on Deck to Support Our Region
While we all do our best to adapt to this unprecedented environment, we know that certain populations will be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The closings of schools, events, retail stores and restaurants will undoubtedly expose many inequities in our current systems, and we are especially concerned about the educational, economic and cultural barriers that may put diverse populations and low-to-moderate income communities at greatest risk.
To that end, we are inspired by the countless examples of NWA businesses and residents stepping up to help. This resource, created by our Northwest Arkansas Council partner ImpactNWA, is keeping track of all the ways we can get through this together. Be sure to check it out and add to the list!
Additionally, our regional health providers are working hard to make sure residents have up-to-date, accurate messages related to COVID-19. Visit the NWA Council to view important information about available testing and resources.
Regional Leaders Discuss Impact of Growing Diversity
Despite having to cancel the release event for Engage The Future: A Look at the Growing Diversity in Northwest Arkansas report, we were delighted that our speakers and panelists were willing to meet as a small group to record their scheduled remarks and discussion.
Mervin Jebaraj, director of the Center of Business and Economic Research at UA Walton College of Business, shared key highlights from the report and encouraged leaders to view the data as targets for inclusion — the next great challenge for the region. Jebaraj indicated that leadership across all sectors — education, government and business — does not yet reflect our region’s diversity. Panelist Erin Kiefer, CEO of Assembled Products Corporation, agreed that the report can help small and mid-size businesses play a larger role in these conversations by benchmarking leadership and workforce to better reflect the community.
Kim Davis, senior education program officer at the Walton Family Foundation, sees this tension as an opportunity for growth — pushing the region to view things through the lens of access and opportunity and finding ways to advocate for diverse individuals to assume leadership roles. Echoing Davis’ remarks, Bjorn Simmons, founder and managing partner of Venture Noire, agreed that NWA is doing a lot of things right especially around the intentionality of diversity and inclusion efforts. However, rather than “solving” for the challenge of diversity and inclusion in our communities, Simmons recommends viewing the data in this report as an opportunity to “empower those diverse groups, give them an intentional invitation to be a part of the conversation, organize leadership roles, and make sure they have access and appropriate resources.”
We are grateful to Mark Espinoza, Walmart senior director of public affairs, for moderating the discussion and all the speakers and panelists for joining. We look forward to sharing video highlights from the discussion soon.
““The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.””- Coretta Scott King
Northwest Arkansas Council Shares Experience of DEI Cohort Initiative
Don’t miss our recent blog post interview with Mike Harvey, chief operating officer of the Northwest Arkansas Council, as he talks about the personal and organizational impact of the Council’s participation in the TRUE TRAIN cohort initiative that began last fall.
Mike highlighted the need for the Council to take a hard look at the diversity of its leadership and membership and is excited to start working on a plan that looks at how the Council’s organizational structure and recruitment process affect these efforts. “As a regional organization, one thing we know is certain: if we are going to move a region forward, everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction.”
NWA nonprofits are invited to apply to participate in the 2020 TRUE TRAIN Cohort. LEARN MORE
Census Forms Arriving and Digital Outreach Efforts Ramping Up
Census forms are showing up in mailboxes and counting efforts are underway. We know that there is some concern around how the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) might impact U.S. Census Bureau operations and outreach. We are taking cues from our state partners to elevate the ways NWA residents can complete the census survey without physical interaction during the self-response phase.
There are three easy ways to respond to the 2020 census from the comfort of your home:
– Online at My2020Census.gov (the code for your address is included in the mailed form)
– By phone at 844-330-2020 (English) — click here for a list of phone numbers in different languages
– By returning the paper questionnaire (mailed soon)
Please use email, social media and other online forms of communication to tell family members, friends and fellow residents to look for their census form in the mail and help ensure an accurate census count.
We may be “social distancing,” but the shared experience of this crisis reveals that we are only as safe as those members of our community who are most at risk. This interconnectedness is in sharp relief these days and demonstrates that the safety and success of this region belongs to all of us — our aging parents, our favorite baristas and waiters, our beloved small-business shops and restaurants, and, of course, our nurses and doctors.
As a convener and connector, EngageNWA may be working from home these days but we look forward to settling in and doubling down on virtual community and solidarity across the NWA region.
Thank you for your continued commitment to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in Northwest Arkansas!