For years Park City Community Foundation has been doing the work to help lead the conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion in Summit County. In 2018, the Community Foundation partnered with Park City Municipal Corporation to build greater social equity and a more complete community. The result was the Social Equity Initiative, a community-wide strategic plan that furthers the vision of a community where everyone has access to opportunities, feels respected, seen, and heard. The Community Foundation led the charge, convening government, business, and philanthropy stakeholders to jointly address issues such as housing, education, and access for underrepresented communities.
Then 2020 put on the pressure in more ways than one. Such a turbulent year and time in history has shined a light on equity gaps across Summit County and the nation. Disparities are real here, and with the growth of greater Park City comes the opportunity to preserve our sense of community and ensure that inequalities are not rising.
Community Impact Director, Diego Zegarra notes that no one could ever have been truly prepared to tackle 2020 all at once. COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter protests, and the stress of the election cycle while simultaneously maintaining social distance brought society to a point of reckoning–taxing on both mind and body. Yet, the community of Park City was still able to come together to help the Community Foundation raise over $5.2 million in donations over the span of the year.
“It takes years of building relationships with multiple stakeholders from different communities in order for us to pick up the phone when a crisis hits and be able to determine how we’re going to employ dollars and raise those dollars,” commented Zegarra. “Last year is proof that we are a trusted entity in Summit County that can quickly, accurately, and equitably identify needs, raise dollars, and then deploy them to meet those needs.”
“2020 was truly meaningful in helping us inform our processes in a much more inclusive way,” Zegarra added. “It allowed us to cement relationships with people who experience disparities and key partners like Park City Municipal, Park City School District, Park City Mountain, and other nonprofit leaders who are joining this social equity effort and are learning together about what it means to achieve equitable outcomes for Summit County.”
Now, in 2021, the Community Foundation looks forward to bringing the Equity Advancement Cohort to the table. This project looks to build momentum upon years of strategic planning and key realizations derived from the lessons of 2020 and beyond, creating a joint conversation. 20 organizations across Summit County are coming together and learning what it means to advance equity internally (within their organizations) and externally (by holding folks accountable).
The cohort consists of two tracks geared towards different community members. One track includes key stakeholders such as the Park City mayor, school district superintendent, and other decision-makers in Summit County. In parallel, “change teams” made up of staff members at participating organizations will operate on the second track to evaluate how ideas and decisions are made, and in turn, implement change on the ground level. By taking a deep dive into race equity conversations during monthly meetings, staff members will have the opportunity to facilitate often tricky conversations and come up with solutions to key organizational problems.
The goal here is to exemplify solidarity and commitment at leadership levels and to follow through on promises and goals to address disparities and achieve more equitable outcomes. Zegarra believes the Equity Advancement Cohort will offer the opportunity for leaders in the community to come together and have difficult discussions on the same playing field. It is the project he is most excited to take on in 2021.
“When we are well versed in the language of equity and inclusion, we show up in a whole different way,” Zegarra explained. “We are much bolder in our approach and it allows for leaders to verbalize their vision of a more equitable community. When we have shared language, it’s far easier.”
Learn more about the Social Equity Initiative and find resources about diversity, equity, and inclusion.