Association of American Colleges and Universities

Rx Racial Healing National Mobilization Campaign

Lead Organization

Association of American Colleges and Universities

Washington, D.C., United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Racism persists in our nation largely due to our failure to disavow the embedded belief in a hierarchy of human value. This belief and the systems and public policies it has generated have caused centuries of harmful discrimination. Today, growing inequality and dramatic demographic changes demand that we create enduring racial equity in order to maintain our political and economic strength and the integrity of our democracy. Our coalition, which collectively reaches millions of people in nearly every sector of nearly every community in the US, will leverage its profound influence to transform our society by going beyond treating symptoms of racism. Using the Rx Racial Healing methodology to create empathetic and compassionate support, we will generate local action coalitions to jettison the racial hierarchy and implement long-term policies that recognize the interconnectedness of racial equity in housing, education, health, and economic opportunity and that lead to enduring national well-being.

Problem Statement

The US has a history of enslaving people, committing genocide among indigenous people, and embracing centuries of institutionalized racism. Yet, unlike many nations that have confronted deep divisions and endured significant social unrest due to war, sector or racial strife, we have never undertaken a comprehensive truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) effort. Thus, we continue to experience a significant wealth gap between white families and families of color, the persistence of government-incentivized residential segregation, unequal access to quality health care and affordable housing, achievement gaps in education, and discrimination in hiring practices. Research reveals that these inequities cost our nation almost $2 trillion annually in lost purchasing power, reduced job opportunities, and diminished productivity for college graduates of color. Further research documents the extent to which the reluctance of policymakers to acknowledge the interconnectedness of these inequities and to devote adequate resources to addressing them is grounded in an often-unconscious belief in a racial hierarchy. Because full human engagement and action on shared interests are the foundation of our governance system, we must heal the wounds of our past and learn to work together with civility, and indeed, with love. We must build the individual and collective capacity to “see ourselves in the face of the other.” This means prioritizing the mobilization of a critical mass of champions who will lead us to confront the challenges of racial healing and equity with compassion, empathy, and perspective-taking acumen.

Solution Overview

Our solution has two key, interrelated strategies: build a national organizational network and drive local action to promote racial healing and racial equity. The five partner organizations will form a National Steering Committee to guide the project and engage others in their sectors to become racial healing and equity champions. Thus, organizations throughout the education, health, housing, economic development, philanthropic, faith, and nonprofit communities will make up a second sphere of collaborating entities, with representatives from many serving on a national advisory committee. We will document, track, support, and connect this expansive network through online and in-person communication.The five partner organizations will also spur local action through their affiliates across the country. Representatives from these affiliates will form community leadership teams to meaningfully engage with grassroots community members. The steering committee will coordinate communications overseen by AAC&U. Community leadership teams will receive training, including participation in a Rx Racial Healing Circle. During the circle, people from diverse backgrounds/perspectives will be guided through a storytelling process to help them recognize and embrace each other’s humanity. Other training topics will include core skills and capacities for co-facilitators; TRHT framework; implicit bias; our history of white supremacy; and team building and planning for local action. Follow-up through an interactive platform will occur monthly to assess progress, successes, challenges, and lessons learned.An annual conference will bring together community teams to share lessons learned and to be renewed. Over five-years we will engage hundreds of diverse communities and create irreversible momentum for transformation.

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Project Funders

  • Newman's Own Foundation 2017 - 2019
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2017 - 2019
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation 2016 - 2017

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