Policy and Advocacy Update

June 29, 2020

The first part of 2020 has been very eventful. On March 6th, the legislative session was brought to a close for both the House and Senate with no quorum, and only 3 out of the 258 bills made it into law. The Emergency Board, a statutory interim committee met to allocate limited funds, including disaster relief funds for flooding in Eastern Oregon. By the end of March, Oregon had a shelter in place order issued by the Governor in response to the threat posed by COVID-19. 

The past three months have been trying for our communities in Southern Oregon. We at NWU have worked diligently to amplify community needs with our congressional delegation, our national and state member organizations and with local partners.  With the federal and state governments looking to craft bills that will shape our recovery from the pandemic, NWU will continue to advocate for the needs and the priorities of our rural Southern communities. Whether it is housing or economic development, legislative and policy work of NWU will continue to grow and develop to meet the challenges of these strange times.  The work of the organization will continue to be guided by this saying “Mission first, People always.”  

Board Equity Statement: Why Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Matter at NWU.

There is a broad consensus that the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion are good for individuals and organizations, but not everyone agrees on what made these principles necessary to call out in the first place. Racism and other forms of discrimination do not exist solely at the individual level, with intentional and direct acts.  Racism and other forms of discrimination are embedded in our culture and in how our institutions operate.  The work of individuals and organizations like NeighborWorks Umpqua is not to be defensive but to understand that racism and other systems of privilege/power work unconsciously. Without active, explicit intention, organizational policies and practices have supported, shored up and actively participated in maintaining the racism and other forms of discrimination embedded in our collective cultures and institutions. They will continue to do so if policies, practices and beliefs remain operational but unexamined.

The role of the Board is to steer the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as by making sure the nonprofit has adequate resources to advance its mission. Since equity is part of NWU’s current strategic plan, the Board’s duties include leading/framing equitable governance, policy creation and strategic work. The role of the Board also extends to committing to learn, uncover and disrupt the systems of power and discrimination that the organization has historically participated in/shored up, be it through programming, procedures, funding, or service provision (who and where).

In light of this, NWU is proud to share the equity statement crafted and adopted by our dedicated Board members.

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