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Citywide Ending Racism Partnership kicks off series of action-oriented roundtables and engagement survey

Greg Deavens in Ending Racism roundtable

Gregory E. Deavens, president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross, delivered welcome remarks at the virtual roundtable.

“Blueprint for Change” to create systemic equality

The Ending Racism Partnership (Partnership), a collaborative movement to develop concrete strategies for ending systemic racial injustice and economic inequality, kicked off today with “A Blueprint to End Racism,” a virtual roundtable event attended by more than 200.

The event was the first in a series of planned roundtable discussions and events designed to inform and engage Philadelphia citizens and regional stakeholders in the work of the Partnership. Co-convened by the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) and Independence Blue Cross, the partnership is co-chaired by Sharmain Matlock-Turner, president and CEO of UAC; Stephen P. Fera, executive vice president of Public Affairs at Independence Blue Cross; and Rev. Dr. Mark Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church. Gregory E. Deavens, president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross, provided welcoming remarks at the event.

“Now is the time to turn the conversations that have been mounting over the past year, and through generations, into a movement to end racism, once and for all,” said Matlock-Turner. “Ours is an ambitious, yet tangible, systemic plan of action to create a more just, equitable society in Philadelphia and beyond.”

Since last fall, UAC and a steering committee of more than 25 leaders representing cross-sections of power in Philadelphia have been laying the groundwork for this multi-phase, multi-year partnership. The group is creating a structured platform for authentic, measurable data and clear deliverables that will serve as a sustainable model that can be replicated in cities across the country.

In January, the Partnership started assembling multiple roundtable discussions to accelerate change across community-identified areas where embedded racism continues to create disparities: education, jobs, housing, health care, and criminal justice, and art and culture. Moderated by a panel of experts, these “Equity in Action” roundtables allowed citizens to discuss their experiences with racism and inform this plan moving forward.

“We’ve witnessed a collective outrage, combined with a passionate desire for knowledge and understanding, among civic leaders and individuals across communities and businesses that we must harness,” said Rev. Tyler. “But we cannot hope to change history without changes in behavior.”

The first phase of the process is intended to hold space for listening and reflecting at a “table” where everyone is welcome, while Phase two will establish shared priorities for healing and rebuilding. In phases three and four, the Partnership will develop steps for implementation, measurement, and accountability.

“At Independence, our dedication to addressing social and health inequities is deeply rooted in our mission to enhance the health and well-being of the communities we serve,” said Fera. “That’s why we are proud to be involved in the Ending Racism Partnership, which will drive important actions to address unfair processes and accelerate inclusive change that brings new opportunity for all.”

To help inform Partnership’s efforts, UAC and Independence Blue Cross announced the launch today of a citywide sentiment survey intended to engage Philadelphians in providing firsthand accounts of their perceptions of racism and its impact on their lives. Special attention will be paid to engage the LGBTQIA+ and immigrant communities, who often have a unique experience with and perspective on racism.

Experience management software company Qualtrics is designing the survey and will capture and assist in analyzing its findings. The Partnership has also received guidance from Pew Charitable Trusts on best practices for the survey’s distribution to the community. Currently available in English, the online survey, which takes about five minutes to complete, will also be available in Spanish and Chinese in the coming weeks. The Partnership will share the results of the survey in May and identify ways to begin the work to build a systematic response to ending racism in Philadelphia.

Ultimately, the Partnership will, according to its vision statement, strive to build “an equitable Philadelphia, where laws, policy, and human interaction are governed by a common belief in our shared equality, opportunity, and equal representation, regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, or color of skin.”

To join the Ending Racism Partnership and complete the survey, which will open for participation through the end of April, visit The Partnership’s next “Equity in Action” roundtable discussion is scheduled for the spring on the issue of health equity.