Lutheran social ministry organizations are known for quality, compassionate care and for enabling people from children to seniors, people with disabilities, the homeless, veterans and more to live a full life with dignity and respect. By coming together and bringing national partners and stakeholders to the table, we gain new skills, perspectives, and ways of engaging community partners to create exponentially better outcomes for people. A crucial piece of this ongoing work is tackling systemic racism.
As a faith-based organization, one committed to equity and justice, our team at Lutheran Services in America continues to recognize and act upon the need to eliminate systemic racism in the U.S. In so doing, we will continue to help reverse the very real toll systemic racism’s related effects continue to have on the health and well-being of people of color and their communities.
Existing disparities across so many sectors of our society emphasize how systemic racism directly affects the foundations of wellness for communities of color. We and the 300+ health and human services organizations that comprise our national network see evidence of this every day in our related work with children, youth and families, seniors, and people with disabilities. Systemic racism must have no home or acceptance. It translates into nothing short of a public health crisis, one which we are committed to helping correct.
One such example is through our ongoing Results Innovation Lab, which already has improved the lives of over 7,000 youth. Importantly, this initiative disaggregates data by race to capture a clearer understanding of where inequities lie and how to address those inequities.
Building on our existing efforts in working with people and families of color so they can thrive, we also recently launched two major initiatives:
- the Results Network where we work with 13 of our member organizations to address what it will take to stabilize families in their communities, so families can remain intact and children do not need to be removed from their family; and
- the Congregate Care Initiative to improve equitable outcomes and permanency for children in congregate care, develop more community-based resources for children, and reduce the number of children in congregate care.
Further, we have launched two related learning collaboratives:
- our Race Equity Group where our member organizations regularly meet to share learnings and best practices of their work to address systemic racism in their own systems and structures, and which also informs our national advocacy platform on critical related issues such as homelessness; and
- our Mission Leaders Group, comprised of leaders from our member organizations who act as stewards of their organization’s faith-based mission, and who meet to form strategies on increasing diversity and discuss related topics tied to equity and inclusivity from an all faiths perspective.
We also recently launched our ongoing Strength & Service Series, ongoing dialogues through which thought leaders and panelists share experiences tied to becoming an anti-racist organization through open dialogue. Participants from our national network discuss critical related topics such as engaging community partners to dismantle racism and addressing organizations’ role in systemic racism – all geared toward capturing a more thorough and actionable understanding of concrete steps needed to eliminate systemic racism.