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The term “systems change” captures the idea of addressing the root causes of issues, rather than the symptoms. To make progress against financial, social and health disparities, it’s necessary to find a way to make every person heard and understood—and, at the same time –support them to working collectively to dismantle the systems that keep those issues in place. “Until we have just systems, where outcomes are meant to be equitable for everyone involved, we’re just spinning our wheels. The individual doesn’t have the same impact; and so, we have to work at a systems level to create real change,” explains Jasmine Coaston, Vice President, Advocacy, Community and Strategic Relations at the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio. This is the type of change that the Urban League is working toward: overcoming those challenges and realizing the potential of policy advocacy, workforce and financial empowerment programs and initiatives. Today, we’re shining a spotlight on the multitude of ways the Urban League has helped advance policy and systems change in our region.
For example, Urban League programs and resources have:
Interact for Health’s work to advance health justice is uniquely intertwined with the Urban League's efforts to support systems change. Under Interact for Health’s new strategic plan, “health” focuses on all the factors that contribute to a person’s health—not just access to quality healthcare, but also economic stability, access to quality education, community connections, and neighborhood and environmental factors. “We know that 80% of people’s health is everything outside of healthcare, specifically the social drivers,” states Ashlee Young, Interact for Health’s Vice President of Policy and Engagement. “The Urban League’s approach joins the broad definition of health equity because they are a key partner in policies and systems change.” While the numbers above are important indicators of the Urban League’s success, it’s the work the organization is doing to make community voices heard and represented that is driving powerful change. “The Urban League is moving towards powerful changes as a well-rounded organization that connects people’s voices to the policies they’re working to change,” Young continues. “What does community power look like? It’s this work."
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