Tag Archives: ESGM

TUNE IN: PolicyLink CEO and President talk improving healthy food access tonight on Current TV

Improving access to healthy foods in undeserved areas is critical not just for community health, but for the nation’s future.

This is the topic of discussion during tonight’s episode of Current TV’s The War Room with Jennifer Granholm, featuring interviews with PolicyLink CEO Angela Glover Blackwell and President Judith Bell.

Tonight’s show (hosted by the former Michigan Governor) will highlight local efforts in Oakland, CA to expand healthy food access. It will also take a look at larger policies such as the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) and CA FreshWorks Fund that are also helping communities across the nation to make healthier food choices.

Tune in tonight LIVE at 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET to catch what’s sure to be an interesting and inspiring discussion!

Interesting in learning more about access to healthy foods? Check out the PolicyLink report The Grocery Gap

As always, we welcome you to continue the conversation with us here on Equity Blog.

“America’s Tomorrow”: An Interview with Lisa Hasegawa

Here at PolicyLink, we internalize what it means when we say, “Lifting Up What Works.” Before the close of May and its celebration of the Asian American Pacific Islander community, we want to lift up the work of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development and its Executive Director, Lisa Hasegawa.

PolicyLink is proud to work with CAPACD and Lisa and we think more people should be aware of the incredible work they do to address the issues of housing and community and economic development needs of the diverse and growing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities around the country.

Our America’s Tomorrow video series was designed to bring you some of the leaders out there who are tackling our most pressing issues in thoughtful and practical ways. If you are not yet aware of this dynamic woman and the agency she leads, then our interview will help you. We encourage you to reach out to Lisa as a resource. If you know Lisa and CAPACD, then this will be a reminder for you of how vital the work she and CAPACD does on a daily basis.

Watch our interview with Lisa below and let’s continue the equity conversation in the comments.


New U.S. Census Data Underscores the Changing Face of America

New U.S. Census Data Underscores the Changing Face of America

Today the U.S. Census released new data showing that Whites now make up less than half of births in the United States, with Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race representing a majority for the first time in the country’s history (at 50.4 percent). The following is a statement from PolicyLink Founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell in response to this news:

“Today’s news from the U.S. Census that whites now account for less than half of U.S. births underscores what PolicyLink has been saying for some time: the face of America is changing and the nation’s fate hinges on how we react to and invest in those changes. At a time when other countries are beginning to see their youth populations dwindle, the U.S. is experiencing a boom not seen since post-World War II. We must recognize this as a tremendous opportunity to develop a national policy agenda that leads with equity and makes it possible for this growing youth population to fully participate and prosper in our nation’s economic revival.

“It is a shocking and unacceptable fact that today 45 percent of Black middle-class children are expected to end up poor by the time they reach adulthood. According to the Brookings Institution, a mere 13 percent of Latinos and 18 percent of African Americans have a college degree, compared with 31 percent of whites. Such statistics, when viewed within the context of these rapidly changing demographics, reinforce the urgency for making targeted investments that will prepare today’s youth of color and help them to reach their full potential. This means supporting quality early childhood education programs so that young children are well-equipped to perform and succeed in the classroom. And investing in our community colleges so that young workers get the training and skills critical to compete in the global economy.

“The only way to achieve true, sustainable economic recovery is by influencing public policy and making equity the superior growth model for our future. Today’s developments represent a prime opportunity to do just that. Let’s start now.”

Check out these maps below for a visual of this changing face of America. What do you think these rapid changes mean for America’s future? Share with us in the comments.



“Toward 2050 in North Carolina”: A New Report by PolicyLink and the Center for American Progress

“Toward 2050 in North Carolina”: A New Report by PolicyLink and the Center for American Progress

The face of the nation is changing, and North Carolina is at the cutting edge of this national transformation. Since 1990, the state’s communities of color grew by ten percentage points. 35 percent of North Carolinians now identify as black, Latino, Asian, Native American, mixed race, or other non-white racial group. By 2040, that share is projected to grow by another 11 percentage points to equal 46 percent of the population.

These dynamics made Raleigh, North Carolina, a perfect place to hold a roundtable discussion with community leaders about demographic change and state’s future prosperity. This was the fourth in a series of roundtables that PolicyLink is convening in partnership with the Progress 2050 project at the Center for American Progress.

Toward 2050 in North Carolina: A Roundtable Report on the Changing Face of the Tar Heel State  summarizes our discussion, highlighting several key themes:

• For the state to prosper, all of its diverse communities must prosper
• Quality education and economic inclusion are critical to the leverage the opportunity of diversity in North Carolina
• Multiracial and multi-generational coalitions are essential to making positive change happen

We hope you enjoy reading the report! Please take a look at other reports in our America’s Tomorrow series for more information about why equity is the superior growth model for the future.

Reflections: A Galvanizing Day for Bay Area Social Equity

Reflections: A Galvanizing Day for Bay Area Social Equity

L to R: Mitchell Silver, President, American Planning Association; Bertha Lewis, President and Founder, The Black Institute; Allen Fernandez-Smith, President and CEO, Urban Habitat (Photo courtesy of Urban Habitat)

The following post is a reflection by Urban Habitat Social Equity Caucus Coordinator Frank López  on the organization’s annual “State of the Region” conference, which was held last week in Oakland.

We got together and made it happen. On April 26, Urban Habitat hosted 120 Bay Area leaders for the annual State of the Region Conference at The California Endowment’s Oakland Conference Center. On a day that threatened rain but eventually brought the sun, social justice advocates came together to talk about equity, how to problem-solve, act, and organize.

Urban Habitat President and CEO, Allen Fernandez Smith kicked off the event by celebrating the victories and achievements of the more than 80 organizations in attendance, while outlining the important work being done in the region and all that still needs to be done moving forward.

Panel sessions explored the challenges in more depth, ranging across the board, from local and regional planning issues that affect low-income communities and people of color to the changing geography of race and class, the dissolution of redevelopment agencies, and regional agency reform. Workshops were offered to help social justice advocates build capacity to develop the tools they need to win regional campaigns, fund regional advocacy work, and build stronger inside-outside relationships with progressive decision makers.

Keynote speakers Mitchell J. Silver, president of the American Planning Association, and Bertha Lewis, president and founder of The Black Institute, delivered exhilarating and passionate¬ calls to action as they spoke about the changing demographic in the United States and how to ensure that low-income people and people of color have the infrastructure and policies in place to support their success.

As an organization, Urban Habitat is committed to building on the work and conversations that were started, nurtured, and further nourished at the 2012 State of the Region Conference. We ask and encourage you as social justice advocates and allies to please continue the dialogue, idea-sharing, and any thoughts about the conference here on PolicyLink’s Equity Blog or on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/urbanhabitat.org

Follow Urban Habitat on Twitter @Urban_Habitat

PolicyLink CEO: “Improving healthy food access critical to curbing obesity”

Much attention has been given to this week’s New York Times article, “Studies Question the Pairing of Food Deserts and Obesity,” which reviewed two new studies that did not find a relationship between the food outlets in neighborhoods and obesity rates among youth.  Yet over the past 20 years — with more than 130 studies under their belt — most researchers have found that people who live in neighborhoods with better access to healthy food also have better nutrition and better health.

In 21st century America, more than 23 million people lack adequate access to fresh, healthy food choices according to the US Department of Agriculture. Finding healthy food can mean multiple bus rides carting groceries and children. The same communities without supermarkets and grocery stores often have blocks and blocks of fast food, liquor, and convenience stores selling unhealthy, high-fat, high-sugar foods. The lack of healthy food retailers is a double whammy for poor neighborhoods since these neighborhoods also miss out on the jobs and economic activity that grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and produce stands can bring.

The majority of research shows a clear relationship between healthy food access, diet, and obesity. Another new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that was not cited in the New York Times article, finds that neighborhood access to healthy food and safe places for physical activity does matter for children’s weight. The study finds that children living in neighborhoods with healthy food and safe play spaces are 56%  less likely to be obese than children in neighborhoods without these features . Other reputable studies have found that African Americans are more likely to meet dietary guidelines for fruits and vegetables when they live in a census tract with a supermarket; and for every additional supermarket in a tract, produce consumption increases 32 percent. In addition, a 2008 California study found obesity rates are 20 percent higher in low-income areas with high densities of fast-food and convenience stores compared to low-income areas with lower densities of outlets selling primarily unhealthy foods.

The two studies highlighted have limitations — as acknowledged by the study authors. Dr. Lee’s research, for example, is based on a very small, non-geographically representative sample that cannot explain the disproportionate obesity rates for “at-risk” children.  We simply can’t draw conclusions about what strategies will work to reduce obesity rates for the many low-income children living without access to healthy food based on this one study. Providing access to healthy food does more than enrich diet and health.  Grocery stores revitalize distressed neighborhoods by creating jobs and bringing in more tax revenues. A Pennsylvania program developed in 2004, and continuing today, has developed or retained 88 grocery stores of other food markets and created more than 5,000 jobs — while improving access to healthy food for over 400,000 residents.

Every community, regardless of income, race, and geography should have ready access to high-quality, healthy food, and be able to benefit from the economic opportunities spurred by new food retail.  Improving the availability of healthy food in underserved areas must be a core component of any comprehensive strategy aimed at combating America’s obesity crisis. Only then can we effectively strengthen the health of our communities, children, and families now and for generations to come.

We encourage you to join us in the comments section below to keep the conversation going and share your own stories about accessing healthy food in your community. Also, see noted researcher Mari Gallagher’s thoughtful response to Times article here.

WATCH: Angela Blackwell on PBS’ Moyers & Company

Set your DVR’s!

Last night PolicyLink Founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell appeared as a guest on Bill Moyers PBS series, Moyers & Company. Angela sat down for more than an hour talking with Bill about the issues she has spent most of her adult life advocating – practical ways to fulfill America’s promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all. Now, with our middle class struggling, poverty rising, and inequality growing, Angela shares her reasons for hope in the face of these hard realities. Here’s a quick preview:

You can watch the entire episode here on Bill Moyers.com. And please continue the discussion with us below in the comments section.

Urban Habitat CEO: Equity is Key to the Bay Area’s Prosperity

Urban Habitat CEO: Equity is Key to the Bay Area’s Prosperity

The Golden State’s tremendous diversity will be the key to its future economic success—if its leaders take action to increase fairness and opportunity. Equity is not only a moral imperative—it is also an economic one.

These are the key messages of the new report California’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Modelauthored by PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE). The report was released at a legislative briefing earlier this month hosted by PolicyLink and the California Legislative Tri-Caucus, and was attended by legislative staff and nearly 40 advocates from all parts of the state.

Below is a reflection on the report from Urban Habitat President & CEO Allen Fernandez Smith:

Urban Habitat fully supports PolicyLink and PERE’s core finding in the California Report that to create a prosperous California, we must address current systemic inequities, avoid creating new ones, and serve residents of all races and incomes equally.

At Urban Habitat, we situate our work at the intersections of education, advocacy, research, and coalition building to advance environmental, economic, and social justice in the Bay Area region for low-income people and communities of color.  We believe that equitable growth is critical to securing a prosperous California and that the state’s demographic diversity is an economic asset.

Recent data show that low‐income people and communities of color are fragmented across regions. This fragmentation constrains these communities’ ability to establish the networks, political solidarity, and information infrastructure needed to influence the regional agencies that oversee important issues, such as transportation justice, economic development, affordable housing, and the environment.

In order for Californians to live up to their highest potential, we must change the way these regional agencies have historically made decisions. To do so, we need people to think locally and act regionally.

Urban Habitat is very proud to lead two strategic initiatives in the Bay Area to address these issues: Our Social Equity Caucus unites leaders across sectors to create a unified regional social justice community; and our Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute trains the next generation of leaders in the Bay Area region.

By lifting up new and under-represented voices to become strong advocates, and by uniting these leaders with social justice organizations working to advance equity, we can build the powerful movement needed to win a prosperous California.


“Toward 2050 in California”: Two New Reports about Diversity, Equity, and the Future

Earlier this month, we shared with you the new PolicyLink/PERE report California’s Tomorrow, which looks at how demographic and economic trends in California have converged in ways that make equity central to the future of California’s economy.

Today, we’re releasing two new papers that summarize roundtable conversation conversations we had with local leaders in Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley to discuss demographic change and new policy ideas that reflect a changing, increasingly diverse United States. These conversations, titled “Toward 2050 in California” are a part of a series of roundtables that Progress 2050 and PolicyLink are hosting around the country.

We hope that you find these to be useful resources in your own work, and we encourage you to keep the conversation going here on Equity Blog. What do you think are the next steps for creating a stronger Golden State? Tell us below in the comments section, we want to hear from you.

P.S. – We would like to thank the Center for American Progress and the Partnership for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) for partnering with us on the reports.

Reflections: Promoting equity in opportunity will help California grow and prosper

Reflections: Promoting equity in opportunity will help California grow and prosper

The Golden State’s tremendous diversity will be the key to its future economic success—if its leaders take action to increase fairness and opportunity. Equity is not only a moral imperative—it is also an economic one.

These are the key messages of the new report California’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model, authored by PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE). The report was released this week at a legislative briefing hosted by PolicyLink and the California Legislative Tri-Caucus, and was attended by legislative staff and nearly 40 advocates from all parts of the state.

Below is a reflection on the report from Kendra Bridges of Sacramento’s Coalition on Regional Equity (CORE):

On Monday, members of the Sacramento region’s Coalition on Regional Equity attended a briefing in California’s State Capitol Building that discussed the future of California, and proposed an exciting and timely new way to think about and plan for our future. This opportunity to hear from thought leaders and our elected leadership from the Latino Legislative Caucus, Legislative Black Caucus and Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus gave us a view into how California can best climb out of the economic hole dug by the recession, into a future of equity and prosperity for all.

Simply put, we heard that Equity is the Superior Growth Model, and will help California move forward.

In order for California to emerge from this recession into a productive future, a shift in thinking and investment must occur. We can no longer defer maintenance of our educational system, defer funding for workforce training, or fail to invest in our communities. In order for all Californians to prosper tomorrow, equity must be a priority today.

Our state has undergone a demographic shift, and people of color are the new majority. The educational attainment necessary for the jobs of tomorrow is not yet a reality for many people of color. Many neighborhoods where people of color live suffer from lack of investment, poor infrastructure, and unhealthy conditions. Accordingly, investment in opportunity for our children and in our existing neighborhoods will help ensure that all Californians are able to stand up to the challenge of the new economy.

We know that providing the tools necessary to help the next generation succeed will help us all emerge from the economic downturn and create new prosperity in our state. We look to our elected and community leaders to make positive change happen. There are a few important ways the leaders in our state can ensure that we all prosper:

  • Invest in our schools. Tomorrow’s workforce needs the necessary education and skills to meet the demands of the rebuilt economy.
  • Invest in our communities. Our public spaces need to be safe and accessible, and our communities need resources such as jobs, services, and places to be physically active. Healthy communities produce a productive workforce!

Promoting equity in opportunity will help California grow and prosper. We look forward to helping our elected leaders make equity a priority in California.