Racial Equity and Inclusion Initiative (REI)

photo of soldiers saluting

"I work full time. I am a Black mother of two Black boys, and my husband is an active duty officer. We will move again in less than a month to a new neighborhood, and I am more fearful now than ever about whether the neighborhood will accept my boys and my family."

– Black Military Spouse

“My kids experienced racism a lot and did not feel accepted in school or their community. Teachers and other students called them ‘Negro.’ They picked fun of my daughters for their dark skin. They had little to no kids around them that looked like them. One daughter has low self esteem and is very socially underdeveloped, because other parents would even tell their kids not to play with her.”

– Black Army Veteran

What is REI?

The Racial Equity and Inclusion Initiative (REI), led by Blue Star Families, is a multi-dimensional, cross-sector, collective-action effort to improve the service experiences of military families of color. Through five impact areas — Research & Advocacy, Training, Leadership, Collaboration, and Community Impact — the initiative will gather new resources and focus the energy of Blue Star Families and a broad assembly of corporate, foundation, and non-profit partners. The REI will direct this effort to ensure that our country meets its obligation to deliver positive, fulfilling experiences to all families who serve.

Launching the Initiative: WHAT WE ARE DOING TODAY:

Blue Star Families has launched several important efforts as initial steps of the Racial Equity and Inclusion Initiative.

Racial Equity Committee (REC)

To root the Racial Equity and Inclusion Initiative in strong leadership, Blue Star Families has enlisted the support of an extraordinary group of leaders and trusted advisors — men and women who have experienced life in a military family, and who have important perspectives to share. The Racial Equity Committee comprises high-ranking military leaders from all branches, wounded warriors, caregivers, and military spouses. This committee has been meeting regularly since this summer. Their perspectives, guidance, and governance are a bedrock of this initiative.

together collaborate of hands teamwork at park outdoor photo
Military patches photo

DEPLOY Fellowships

Existing research and data indicate that military families of color are more likely to experience financial distress and are less likely to hear about support and resources. Importantly, the leadership teams of the organizations who serve them — MSOs and VSOs — are disproportionately white.

As an initial step in combating these inequities, Blue Star Families has launched the DEPLOY Fellowship program (Diversify and Expand the Pipeline Of Leaders for Your military community). This program seeks to train a new cohort of racially diverse leaders for MSOs and VSOs.

These leaders will serve (be deployed) for one year in chapter-based or national roles at Blue Star Families while they receive training in MSO/VSO leadership curated by several of our key partners.

They will focus their fellowship work on improving the experiences and increasing the representation of military families of color in community settings across the country, and will graduate the program to continue that work in positions of leadership within the MSO/VSO space.

Collaborative Partners

We have announced an initial group of collaborative partners — organizations that are dedicated to the goals of this initiative and are invested in its success.  These partners are providing not only the needed financial sponsorship to make this work possible, but also additional resources and leadership training in direct operational support of the five impact areas. Our growing list of nonprofit partners will also contribute to the training and leadership development programs and serve as potential hiring organizations for leaders who will graduate from these programs.

photo of handshake

How It Works

The REI’s Five Impact Areas:

RESEARCH & ADVOCACY

Conducting research via focus groups, applying new lenses to prior surveys, and launching new surveys to further understand the unique experiences of military families of color. We will then pair these findings with data-driven policy recommendations geared to meaningfully improve their experiences.

See our current data and insights on the experiences of military families of color:

Leadership

Assembling and engaging a committee of established leaders who will help inform strategies, programs, and outcomes of the initiative, and will provide thought leadership on racial equity to the entire military- and veteran-family support sector.

See the extraordinary group of individuals on our Racial Equity Committee.

Training

Building programs that seek to train new cohorts of racially diverse leaders who will help lead efforts to improve the service experiences of military families of color and increase their representation in the MSO/VSO space. These fellows will immediately provide leadership at the local and national level so that military families of color can see themselves represented in the support organizations that seek to serve them.

Learn more about our DEPLOY Fellowship Program

Collaboration

Harnessing the involvement of a cross-sector group of organizations to create collective action, share programs, and drive change across a broad set of stakeholders.

Community Impact

Building programs and engagements that focus directly on improving the experiences of military families, on fostering inclusion, and on increasing the sense of belonging in communities nationwide.

REI Launch Event Video

On Dec. 16, 2020, Blue Star Families, members of the Racial Equity Committee, and Racial Equity Initiative partners and supporters joined together for a special event announcing our efforts to better serve our military families of color.

If you were not able to join us, please enjoy the on-demand video of Blue Star Families on Racial Equity: Frontlines and Homefront below.

Podcast

Behind the Mission with PsychArmor thumbnail image

BTM07 - Kathy Roth-Douquet and Sinclair Harris - Blue Star Families Racial Equity Initiative

Feb 23 2021

Length: 24 mins

Listen for free
View show details

Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families, and retired Navy Rear Admiral Sinclair Harris join the show to talk about diversity, equity, inclusion, and Blue Star Families' Racial Equity Initiative.

Article

Organization Launches $1 Million Racial Equity Initiative

Feb 2021

Featured in Militaryinfluencermagazine.com

Blue Star Families launched a new leadership initiative aimed at addressing racial inequities among military and veteran communities while improving the wellbeing of military families of color.

Funders

USAA logo
JPMorgan Chase & Co logo
craig newmark philanthropies logo
Lockheed Martin logo
Robert McCormick Foundation logo
Salesforce_Corporate_Logo_RGB
Starbucks siren logo transparent
Amazon Logo
bae systems logo
CSX BLUE LOGO
REI Co-Op Logo
OptumServe logo
AARP Logo
Leidos transparent logo

Boeing

IntelliDyne, LLC

Partners

American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces logo
Bob Woodruff Foundation logo
Institute for Veterans and Military Families logo
George W. Bush Institute logo