Co-authored by Jelina Tunstill (CAN) and Laura Olson (GAVA), members of the Success By 6 Leadership Team and Success By 6 Equity Team.
United Way for Greater Austin proudly serves as the convening organization for the Austin/Travis County Success By 6 Coalition.
The first five years of a child’s life are a critical period when 90 percent of all brain development occurs. What happens in these early years has a lasting impact from birth to Kindergarten readiness, to high school graduation and beyond.
In 2012, Success By 6 ATX formed a coalition to transform Austin/Travis County’s early childhood system through a Strategic Plan (originally called the School Readiness Action Plan). Today, the Success By 6 ATX Coalition (SX6) has grown and continues to make progress on the goals we have set. We are coordinating programs and actions to ensure that every child born in the Austin area receives the support and care they need during the first 2,000 days of their life, an essential time for development. We seek to ensure success not only for children, but also for the long term economic health of our community.
In 2021, SX6 will be leaning into race equity work as a priority for our coalition. To get beyond the buzzwords of racial equity and put real action behind intention will require alignment with our coalition, state leaders, funders, and local decision-makers to affirm: When it comes to the much-touted ideal of “child-centered” planning, supports, and care, children and families of color count too. As a first step, members of the SX6 Leadership Team have participated in Undoing Racism, a three day race equity training, to deepen their intentional work on race equity.
As a continuation of the learning that happened during that training and the desire from participants to continue intentionally working on race equity, the SX6 Leadership Team has created a dedicated Equity Team. This team will assess equity in our Strategic Plan, and establish a team whose sole purpose is to ensure equity remains a focus in our work. The Equity Team has been formed with members of the Leadership Team, and will be incorporating community and other coalition members. It is designed to create space for parents and early learning educators of color to share about what works, what needs improvement, and what matters most. Their leadership will help the Equity Team grow, and their insights and experiences will inform our efforts to prioritize equity in each pillar of our work: Healthy Beginnings, Supported Families, Safe and Stimulating Communities, and High-quality Care & Education.
The first thing the Equity Team has accomplished is the development of a clear vision of what we want our work and role to look like. We want the SX6 Coalition to be a “table” that represents the Austin community, that centers BIPOC families in the decision-making process, and that explicitly and intentionally focuses on racial equity in childhood outcomes. The City of Austin Equity Office created a thorough Equity Assessment that was originally developed with community input for Austin’s City departments. We felt that this was a great place to start to analyze the structures (meeting structure, types of representation on different levels in the SX6 coalition, community engagement, etc.) and plans and measures that we currently have in place. The assessment will take our coalition up to six months to complete, and will then be reviewed by the Equity Office.
As we begin to work through the assessment we have already started to make changes to include equity in our planning in a more intentional way.
- We’re going to be examining our data by race/ethnicity whenever we can.
- We have asked each of our workgroups to use inclusive/asset-based language in their strategies and to identify strategies that specifically address equity.
- We will identify ways to engage and collect input from community members.
- We will include feedback from community members, Equity Office, and results from our assessment in the revision of the SX6 Strategic Plan.
We challenge you to get started or continue working on race equity in your organizations and personal life. A great way to begin is by signing up for an Undoing Racism training or speaking to the City of Austin Equity Office staff or a member of the SX6 Leadership Team to find out what resources are available for you.