With a rise in awareness of the disparities that exist between communities based on race and ethnicity, there’s interest in discussing racial equity and social change.

However, even as the subject of racial equity enters the discussion, there’s still confusion around what it means and why it’s so important.

Defining Racial Equity

According to Race Forward, “racial equity is both an outcome and a process,” and the outcome occurs when race no longer determines someone’s socioeconomic status.  The process ensures that those most impacted by structural racial inequality are involved in the discussions and decisions around the policies that impact them.

These Race Forward definitions clarify the key difference between equity and equality:

  • Equality provides the same resources and opportunities for all, assuming everyone is starting at the same “level.”
  • Equity acknowledges that some communities have been left out and left behind and warrant greater investments to achieve parity with other communities.

In the context of socioeconomics, racial equity would ensure that every community, regardless of race, has the same access to stable housing, healthy food options, job opportunities and other public structures that help us live happy and healthy lives. Then, at that point, equality can begin.   

Why Racial Equity Is So Important

The roots of equity begin when every community is included in the planning, decision-making and ownership of the institutions that influence and govern. Advancing racial equity helps us achieve balance, where all communities can flourish, economies can prosper, and governments can make better use of resources.

Racial equity is also a life and death matter, with the health of our communities at risk.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed long-standing inequities connected to our history of systemic discrimination. Locally, the mortality rate of Black San Diegans is nearly double that of white San Diegans, shining a light on continued health disparities. 

Once we bring everyone to the table, we begin to lift up communities and change systems that have prevented historically under-represented groups from succeeding. And success is truly the goal — when communities of color become successful, all communities become more successful.

This isn’t just an idea, racial equity is possible and within reach. By coming together, we can achieve across all communities stable and safe housing, equal education opportunities, healthy foods, job prospects and access to health care and equality in pay.

Contributing to Racial Equity

We arrive at a place of equity only when we collectively create systems that support all races equally. However, like any systematic shift, it takes resources and planning. At The San Diego Foundation, we have a vision for just, equitable and resilient communities.

Here are two ways you can make a difference in advancing social and racial justice, and fostering equity of opportunity in San Diego – two key goals of our Strategic Plan.

Black Community Investment Fund

The Black Community Investment Fund (BCIF) prioritizes and invests in community-led, innovative efforts that increase racial equity and generational wealth for Black San Diegans.

Co-founded by the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce and led by an advisory council of San Diego leaders, the fund focuses on grantmaking in four key pillars impacting economic prosperity among Black San Diegans: education, employment, entrepreneurship and housing. Announced in September 2020, the fund has awarded grants to the San Diego Workforce Partnership and the Neighborhood House Association for education and workforce training, provided local college students with Dr. Wilma Wooten Courage Scholarships and launched the San Diego Black Homebuyers Program. Learn more.

Community Scholars Initiative

Since education is arguably at the core of an equitable society across race and ethnicity, scholarship funds are another way to contribute. Ensuring students, regardless of race, family income or the zip code they live in, can achieve their aspirations of a college degree is critical to achieving a future of racial equity. Generous San Diegans can establish their own scholarship fund prioritizing student need. Or, easily make a contribution to the Community Scholars Initiative that provides scholarships and wraparound services for students facing the greatest barriers to college success: first-generation students from low-income households and underrepresented communities.

To date, The San Diego Foundation has developed a Community Scholarship Program that has awarded more than $40 million to more than 10,000 students since 1997. Learn more.

It’s a Group Effort

Creating a world that moves closer to racial equity requires a collective effort that directly involves members of each community. It also needs the financial and strategic support to make systematic changes possible.

For more information on the Black Community Investment Fund or how to contribute to the Community Scholars Initiative, contact The San Diego Foundation.