County Leaders Convene to Discuss Groundbreaking Report and Develop Policy Changes:
Introducing the UNITE Pinellas Collective
St. Petersburg, Fla. (April 22, 2019) – Last Thursday, over 350 community leaders, elected officials, non-profit heads, and equity advocates convened at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater to learn about the results obtained from the 2019 Pinellas Equity Profile. This first ever countywide assessment, the report measures economic outcomes and quality-of-life indicators for Pinellas County residents through an equity lens.
Attendees were provided with highlights of the report and a discussion on strategies that can help communities here and across the country to achieve equitable and inclusive economic prosperity. Participants included St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor and City Administrator, Dr. Kanika Tomalin, Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners Chair, Karen Williams Seel, St. Petersburg Police Department Community Intervention Director, Rev. Kenny Irby, and Director of New Deal for St. Pete, Brother John Muhammad.
Mirroring national trends, Pinellas County is becoming a more diverse county. However, a history of racial discrimination and disinvestment in communities of color has created racial inequities in employment, income, wealth, education, health, justice, housing, and transportation. The 2019 Pinellas Equity Profile estimated that these racial inequities have cost the county nearly $3.6 billion.
Furthermore, research shows that if additional income is generated by families who have low incomes there are five areas of wellbeing that are positively impacted: health, academic success of children, quality of housing, likelihood of living in a more safe and secure environment, and civic engagement.
Existing community and policy efforts are beginning to adopt an equity-focused approach, providing meaningful opportunities for residents, government, and businesses to advance long-term sustainable change to shape a more inclusive economy for all. The UNITE Pinellas Collective is a new resource to help meet that goal.
The UNITE Collective was formed out of a need to examine and combat systemic inequities in Pinellas County that have diminished economic and social success for residents with low incomes and especially for people of color. It is a collective of organizations united in a common mission to increase income and race equity through county-wide systems change.
“The success and prosperity of Pinellas County will rely on dismantling these unjust barriers and ensuring that everyone can participate and enjoy the benefits of a thriving economy,” explained UNITE Pinellas executive director Tim Dutton. “Strategies for impacting systems will rely on the wisdom and co-creation of those people most impacted by the policies, practices and “blame narratives” that perpetuate inequity.”
Counties are equitable when all residents- regardless of their race/ethnicity, nativity, gender, income, neighborhood of residence, or other characteristics- are fully able to participate in the country’s economic vitality, contribute to the region’s readiness for the future, and connect to the region’s assets and resources.
Developed by the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at USC, and PolicyLink, a national leader in equity research, and with support from the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, United Way Suncoast, and the Juvenile Welfare Board, the Pinellas Equity Profile is a powerful tool that can help inform local policy decisions and produce stronger equitable economic outcomes.
Over the next 12 to 24 months, the Equity Profile will be used to help pinpoint areas that deserve more detailed examination related to the policies, institutional practices, and narratives. People most impacted by those issues, in concert with policy and practice specialists, will develop solutions and influence their adoption.