“Poverty is often material scarcity piled on chronic pain piled on incarceration piled on depression piled on addiction — and on and on it goes. Poverty isn't a line. It's a tight knot of social maladies. It is connected to every social problem we care about— crime, health, education, housing — and its persistence in American life means that millions of families are denied safety and security and dignity in one of the richest nations in the history of the world.”

 Matthew Desmond 


Thank you for saying yes, for being curious and for making a commitment to further your learning about the causes and connections between equity, racism and poverty. As a country and a community, we continue to experience immense tragedy and systemic violence towards marginalized communities around the world — particularly our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) friends, family and neighbors. 


While we have made some strides towards greater equity, there is so much work to be done. We can all build our capacity to think critically and be voices for change. 

The content of this Equity Challenge was curated by a collaboration of United Way of Greater New Haven and the United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut. Thank you to the content design team! 


For this Equity Challenge: Abolishing Poverty, we will build from Connecticut United Ways' virtual conversation with Matthew Desmond, author of Poverty, By America. Over the next week, we will explore the myths surrounding poverty, the history of poverty in the United States, the economic factors contributing towards poverty and the impact of poverty on basic needs. We will close the Equity Challenge with a focus on the future, highlighting innovations to abolish poverty. 

In order to effectively advocate for our communities, we need to speak a common language and grapple with our own responsibilities toward making change. The intention of this Equity Challenge is to help spark that effort and encourage us all toward action.  


Starting on Monday, March 4, you will receive a daily morning email with an overview of the day’s topic and four categories of resources and ways you can learn: READ articles, WATCH videos, LISTEN to podcasts or take ACTION. You have the choice of which specific resources you want to open and explore. There is no expectation for you to explore them all, but we ask that you commit 10-15 minutes each day to engage with the resources and see which ones resonate with you.  

As you prepare for next week’s Equity Challenge, consider exploring the resources and tips below to get a head start.


PBS.org interview with the Poverty, By America author: “Matthew Desmond on American’s Poverty Crisis.” (17 minutes) 

Explore the variety of stories shared by the U.S. Census Bureau about poverty in the U.S. that include articles, statistics, personal stories and more: “America Counts: Stories about Income & Poverty.” 

Ground yourself with definitions and concepts that will be helpful for next week’s Challenge by reading Race Forward’s “What is Racial Equity,” to understand the difference between racial equity and racial equality, as well as the different levels of racism. 


Schedule time each day in your calendar when you will engage with the Challenge content. Establishing a habit is based on setting up a practice or routine. Learning about racial equity is a habit we all want to build. 

We are all learners on this journey, and we look forward to traveling along with you. Thanks for joining us! 

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United Way of Connecticut

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