According to the Equity Manifesto developed by PolicyLink, equity is “just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. Unlocking the promise of the nation by unleashing the promise in us all.”
What is equity?
It’s a word we hear a lot now, with tensions running high in the heat of the current presidential campaign and the seemingly never-ending news cycle of Black lives being extinguished.
What is equity? And what does it mean for our everyday lives? And how do we achieve it?
These are all questions PolicyLink has been asking since 1999.
“In January 1999 the word ‘equity’ was not being used to talk about social justice in the context of the United States,” says Angela Glover Blackwell, President and CEO of PolicyLink. “We really pushed hard to lift up the term ‘equity.’ We pulled everything together under one umbrella and sharpened for researchers and others how to think about advocacy in this country.”
PolicyLink is dedicated to advancing economic and social advocacy, being responsive to organizing on the ground, and using data and communication for advocacy. “You don’t get good policy without good advocacy,” Blackwell states.
The organization is based in Oakland, California, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. It is a national research and action institute that advances economic and social equity through policy work and by connecting people already doing such work on the ground.
“We understand that being responsible to people doing work on the ground is the most responsible way to do policy work,” says Blackwell. “Advocacy needs to be founded in community, and understanding the power of place and how place impacts lives. At the time we started PolicyLink, place was not a policy idea.”
The tagline of PolicyLink is “Lifting Up What Works,” a way of focusing attention on how people are working successfully to use local, state, and federal policy to create conditions that benefit everyone, especially people in low-income communities and communities of color.
“We think in this quest to achieve a fully inclusive society that includes a focus on racial equity, there are examples of what works all over this country and we need to shine a light on these things to insure victory,” Blackwell explains.
PolicyLink shares their findings and analysis through print and web-based publishing, convenings, national summits, and briefings with local and national policymakers. 3,000 people attended their Equity Summit 2015, where they shared the “Our Moment” video, in which they champion the idea that a movement is not a flash of light but a torch that gets passed from one generation to the next.