Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh’s work to make everyone’s homes safe and healthy has always been motivated by our belief in equity. However, we know that we still have work to do to overcome true racial inequality and injustice in the communities that welcome us each day. We continue to reflect on who we are and how we conduct our business.
Our commitment to social justice should be present in everything we do and that requires a constant process of engagement, outreach, and education. We need to understand that our organization exists in large part because of the unequal health and economic burden carried by low-income, often Black, communities in Pittsburgh. We need to grow beyond happy homeowner stories that reinforce stereotypes of the “deserving poor” and share our impacts in the contexts of the assets we help our clients preserve.
Internally, RTP has a very active Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee that exists to listen, learn, and advocate for change starting within. The committee is comprised of deeply engaged members of both our board and staff, each member with a personal sense of ownership and high standards for RTP’s DEI efforts. Since the summer of 2020, they have pushed the organization to recognize and embrace that RTP exists to address the people and environments created by past social injustice such as redlining and disinvestment.
Toward that end, we recently instituted Service Holidays at RTP. These are three intentional occasions for staff and board to participate in services projects that are developed through a DEI lens. The three holidays are Martin Luther King Day, Juneteenth, and Veteran’s Day. Each service project is matched with an educational component so RTP staff and board can step outside their daily viewpoints to see the broader community in which we work.
Externally, we are working to identify and partner with community-based and diverse contractors. We are allocating new resources to maintain our strong track-record for authentic community engagement. And perhaps most critically, we are building capacity and consensus for new board and staff candidates that better reflect the diversity of our community.
I look forward to continuing to update you on the advancements RTP achieves in our equity goals.
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