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People of color in Lane County invited to help direct dollars of new Racial Justice Fund

Alma Fumiko Hesus, United Way staff person, speaks about the impact of the fund.jpg
United Way of Lane County
Alma Fumiko Hesus with United Way of Lane County staff person, speaks about the impact of the Racial Justice Fund in downtown Eugene.

This Wednesday, May 25, United Way of Lane County will host in-person listening sessions for its new Racial Justice Fund. People of color are invited and urged to share their hopes, concerns, and concepts for addressing racial injustice.

The purpose of the fund is to move substantial resources to communities that have historically been prevented from accumulating wealth and shaping public policy. So far, over $65,000 has been raised.

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Mo Young calls herself a "help detective," ever looking for ways to assist communities of color.

United Way of Lane County said what comes out of these gatherings will ultimately shape how funds are used locally. In the three past listening sessions on ZOOM, participants discussed initiatives to retain staff of color in schools, advocacy for local justice systems to address inequities and helping people of color build generational wealth and purchase property among other ideas for using funds.

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United Way of Lane County
Local leaders of color gather with United Way of Lane County for a recent Racial Justice Fund planning meeting on ZOOM.

Mo Young works building community partnerships for Lane County Public Health and serves as co-chair on the Racial Justice Fund. “It’s not every day that any of our systems ask for our input as people of color,” she said. “I think this is a really huge opportunity for us to help build a foundation of something that can change a lot of our lives.”

The two listening sessions will be “open house” style at United Way’s office in Springfield. People can drop in this Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. There are also ways to provide input online.

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United Way of Lane County

United Way’s Racial Justice Fund is explicitly led by people most impacted by racial inequities. An advisory council is made up of local leaders of color and the Fund is being shaped by input from people of color through one-to-one conversations, listening sessions, and surveys.

“By ensuring funding decisions are made by those who know the needs and solutions best, we can help improve outcomes for every person in Lane County,” said Alma Fumiko Hesus, United Way of Lane County’s Director of Individual Giving and Racial Justice Fund advocate.

Mo Young said she hopes the Racial Justice Fund will provide assistance with home ownership for people of color. Young was part of a group of community members who helped buy civil rights activist and UO alum, Lyllye Reynolds-Parker known as "Miss Lyllye," her first home at 75.
A woman who helped hundreds in the Eugene community gets help to find a home (klcc.org)

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.