Regional leaders embrace pledge to address racism

From the coronavirus pandemic to protests against police brutality, the past few months have cast a bright light on systemic inequities facing communities of color. To demonstrate the region’s commitment to addressing racism in our workplaces and in our community, the Northwest Arkansas Council and EngageNWA partnered with Walmart, Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt Transport Services and other regional entities to embrace the Northwest Arkansas Leadership Pledge.

EngageNWA encourages businesses and organizations across the region to make this tangible commitment to creating a more just, equitable and inclusive community.  We look forward to exploring new ways to support signers and develop strategies and supports to help them fulfill their commitment.

This is a holiday about freedom delayed and the long wait for progress. We invite you to read “The Long Wait” by Dr. Rickey Booker to further explore this wait for progress.

big NEWS.

City of Bentonville launches DEI Community Task Force

The City of Bentonville is initiating a new campaign called Bentonville Together and accepting applications for residents to serve on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Community Task Force. The task force will seek to examine and address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion with the goal of ensuring Bentonville is welcoming and that all feel a part of the community.

The campaign will coordinate, encourage, and implement initiatives and activities around a learn, listen, and lead approach. This includes active listening sessions, a review of city policies and practices that may create inequality or exclusion, and the creation of additional committees and advisory boards within the Mayor’s office to guide strategy and implementation.

Candidates interested in applying for the DEI Community Task Force should apply by August 15th.


“Yes, some companies are facing difficult financial decisions, but *there could not be a worse time* to reduce the function that ensures your marginalized employees feel seen and heard.”

- "Diversity job openings fell nearly 60% after the coronavirus. Then came the Black Lives Matter protest."

take NOTE.

Community responds to COVID-19 impact on Marshallese families

The Marshallese community represents around 2% of the population in Benton and Washington counties, but it accounts for 60% of local deaths attributed to COVID-19.

The federal Centers for Disease Control visited NWA to look at this disparity and others and offered recommendations based on the challenges that were observed. According to the report, there is an overlap with cases spreading in poultry plants, households and community. Language barriers, fear and distrust with health care systems, lack of access to Medicaid, and a reluctance to miss work for fear of losing pay are contributing factors to the transmission in Marshallese households.

Recently, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved $7 million in funding for testing and contract tracing for our region’s Latinx and Marshallese communities. Two nonprofit organizations, Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese and the Marshallese Educational Initiative (on behalf of the Marshallese COVID-19 Response Task Force) have submitted proposals for funding to provide assistance on basic needs and communications to the Marshallese community through the CARES Act. The Northwest Arkansas Council and EngageNWA support both proposals. If you would like to write a letter for support, please contact us.

You can read ACOM’s proposal here, and MEI’s proposal here.

make MOVES.

Program on Debt Forgiveness Request of the Payment Check Protection Program (PPP) in Spanish

HOSTED BY: Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center
DATE: August 6, 2020
: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

En esta sesión se explicará cómo aplicar para la petición del perdón de la deuda del Programa de Protección de Cheques de Pago o PPP (Paycheck Protection Program). En conjunto con el SBA, las presentadoras Juliana Echeverri y Eileen Devereux del Centro de Desarrollo Tecnológico para Pequeñas Empresas o ASBTDC, describirán el proceso a seguir para que los dueños de pequeños negocios que recibieron fondos del PPP apliquen para la solicitud de la condonación de esa deuda.


The Fayetteville Public Library has launched a curated collection of anti-racism reading material. The collection – Anti-Racism Pathfinders – includes a wide range of books and web sources specifically curated for children, young adults and parents.

Walmart Foundation has approved its grant to EngageNWA for 2020-2021, and we received a new grant from the Walton Family Foundation. Specifically, the grants will allow Engage to do the following:

– Implement a regional business engagement learning cohort to build DEI competencies of five chambers of commerce and 15 small to mid-size businesses.

– Expand our communication reach by targeting small and mid-size businesses with content and programming that addresses their needs and constraints.

Last year at this time, we were preparing for our annual network convening held at the newly opened TheatreSquared in downtown Fayetteville. I’m not sure anyone could have predicted then that we’d be sitting this year’s gathering out due to a global pandemic, yet the work continues with even greater urgency.

A public health crisis reveals the true cost of exclusion, which is far too high for any community to tolerate. While we remain #togetherapart, I look forward to a year of expanding commitments, deeper learnings and investments and transformative results towards our shared goal of a more diverse and inclusive region.