we must 

and will do better

June 16, 2020

The Sorenson Impact Center was endowed in 2012 to provide a practical and academic focus on direct impact investing. Since that time, our disciplines and capabilities have broadened to include data science, policy innovation, and field building—all while keeping student experiential education and impact investing at our core.

 

Central to all of our work is striving to change the way that communities access capital and to address deeply entrenched, systemic challenges in the social sector. We are guided by data that remind us that in the U.S., Black household wealth is ten times smaller than white household wealth, the Black homeownership rate is less than two-thirds of white homeownership, and in Utah, Black people are nearly ten times as likely to be killed by police than whites. These data support what Black leaders have called on us to recognize for decades: the four centuries of systematic exclusion and oppression of Black people. 

 

While social impact has always been at the heart of our work, we acknowledge that we have not yet done enough to dismantle structural racism both inside and outside our own institution. We champion investments in historically marginalized communities, use data to promote greater equity in higher education, consult with governments to reduce reliance on incarceration, and direct capital to critical needs like early childhood supports and housing—yet we don’t have any people of color on our leadership team. 

 

As a Center, we have been reflecting, reading, listening, and engaging in honest conversations about our power, privilege, responsibilities, and the ways that we can address racism as individuals and as an organization. 

 

We commit to leveraging our platform and holding ourselves accountable to work toward increasing equity and eliminating racism, beginning with the following steps:

 

  • We will recruit for our senior leadership team and advisory board to ensure representation from Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) changemakers.

 

  • We will continue to use our platform to amplify Black voices on our social channels, in our articles, in our newsletters, and at the Winter Innovation Summit. 

 

  • We will more actively recruit BIPOC, women, LGBTQ+, and students with disabilities into our courses and internship programs. We will also continue to improve our student training and mentorship to support students from marginalized identities and equip all students who enter our doors with the knowledge to identify privilege and injustice—and then to act upon that knowledge.

 

  • We will launch a social impact scholarship fund at the University of Utah in an effort to increase access for BIPOC, women, LGBTQ+, and students with disabilities who are seeking to become social impact leaders.

 

As an organization that promotes impact measurement and transparency, we commit to hold ourselves accountable and share our learnings as we work toward anti-racist policy and practice. Our first step is to share the racial and gender makeup of our current staff and students, and we will continue to do so on an annual basis: 

 

The current racial and gender composition of our organization is

 

  • All staff (n=26): 4% Black, 12% people of color, 60% women

  • Leadership (n=9): 0% Black, 0% people of color, 44% women

  • Students (n=43): 4% Black, 27% people of color, 37% women

 

Clearly, we have considerable work to do. But we are guided in our efforts to do better by our shared commitment to a future that is more just than today. 

 

We invite your feedback on our efforts and how we can continue to improve by contacting us at inclusion@sorensonimpact.com.

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Visit eccles.utah.edu and www.utah.edu to learn more about the University of Utah