In 2008, NAMC developed a countywide Cultural Competency Initiative, with the purpose of improving the quality of life for all residents of Monterey County, especially those with the greatest vulnerabilities and disadvantages.
With a history of producing educational conferences on this topic, NAMC identified the need to broaden the focus to Diversity & Social Equity, and to move from “discussion” to “action.” Following a conference where input was collected from more than 100 representatives from the nonprofit and public sectors, NAMC formed a Blue Ribbon Panel of 30 community leaders to guide a strategic planning process for this project. That process identified two major areas of initial focus: advocacy/policy and capacity building.
Monterey Peninsula Foundation provided funds to staff the project. Community Foundation for Monterey County provided a 2-year grant used to ensure sustainability, including additional staff support to develop and implement a work plan.
Diversity and Social Equity (DSE) Project
All people in Monterey County have equitable access to a healthy community: quality education; quality health care; nutritious food; employment with a living wage; affordable housing; homes in safe neighborhoods; and connection to/enjoyment of the natural environment.
A healthy community is fully accessible. It is inclusive, respectful, hopeful, and celebrates diversity of all kinds – social, cultural, economic, environmental, and political.
All people have equitable opportunities to participate in decision making regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, immigration status, economic status, sexual orientation or disability.
Monterey County as a community of residents, businesses, nonprofit and public agencies is committed to open and accountable policies and processes that engage all people residing within our local communities.
Diversity is strength and power. The root causes of injustice can only be eliminated when all sectors and community members across the county work together to assure that all voices are valued, respected and heard.
Conditions in Monterey County, December 2012:
- 68% of third graders do not read at grade level
- 29% of 12th graders do not graduate high school on time
- 13% of all students drop out of school
- Only 8.1% of children attend preschool, nursery schools or Head Start
- 21%of residents lack health insurance
- 27% of women do not receive early prenatal care
- 12% of adults in Monterey County live in households that are food insecure
- 32% of all children in Monterey County live in households that are food-insecure
- 63% of adults and 12% of children in Monterey County are overweight or obese
- Type-2 diabetes affects approximately 5% of Monterey County residents
- Monterey County unemployment rate is 10.2%
- 1 in 5 county residents and more than 1 in 4 children live below the poverty line
- There are 5100 homeless children in Monterey, an increase of 31% from last year
- Monterey County has the highest per capita rate of youth murders in the state of California
- There are 28 contaminated sites in Monterey County according to the California Dept. of Toxic Substances
- Residents report that they do not go for walks in parks or other open spaces because they do not feel safe
DSE Initiative Goals:
The purpose of NAMC’s Diversity and Social Equity Initiative is to lead, support, and influence policy makers in the public and private sector to make a positive impact on the above indicators for the good of all people of Monterey County. Our goals include:
- Convene policy makers on a regular basis to identify and transform systems that lead to structural inequities.
- Broaden access to diversity and social equity information, materials and tools to support local nonprofits, public agencies, and businesses.
- Provide organizational self-assessment tools and assist in initialization.
- Identify local diversity experts, community leaders, and professionals as resources.
- Engage local organizations to participate in a pilot project of cultural diversity, inclusion, assessment and systems change and share strength and gaps.
- Support participating nonprofit organizations to identify impediments to equity, implement change to remove barriers and share their experience.
- Document impact of pilot project and nonprofit participants on people served in Monterey County.