Taking place on June 19, Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It’s also a time to reflect on our country’s history of racial inequality and recognize there’s more work to be done.
Focus on Our Workforce
At Room & Board, we’re taking steps to include more Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals in our workforce, finding ways to support more BIPOC-owned or operated businesses and publicly supporting BIPOC equity and justice. We’ve partnered with Genesys Works to provide internships to students in underserved communities and plan to expand these opportunities. Room & Board is also building a relationship with BRAG, a nonprofit organization that prepares and educates professionals, entrepreneurs and students of color for executive leadership in retail.
Throughout our 40 years, Room & Board has supported the communities where we live and work through our Community Partnerships. This year, we expanded our reach to include nonprofits dedicated to racial equity, as well as LGBTQ+ causes, environmental organizations and nonprofit organizations that strengthen home and families.
Room & Board has been a long-time supporter of the ACLU as they fight for the rights of all people. In addition, this year we’ve made a concerted effort to support more nonprofit organizations focused on BIPOC communities, including Climate Generation, the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council and more. We’re also funding the summer internship of a BIPOC first-generation college student at CommonBond Communities and doing a similar internship funding effort with the Minnesota chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
Educate and Volunteer
At Room & Board, we are marking the holiday through education and volunteer efforts. We are encouraging all of our locations and our headquarters to partner with community groups, share helpful resources or have thoughtful discussions within their teams.
Looking back at 2020, many Room & Board teams used the day as a way to educate themselves, support the Black community and make a difference. Here are some highlights:
- Our Washington, D.C. Delivery Center honored the day by dressing in the colors of the Pan African flag and committing to contribute to the growth of the local Black community through volunteer and donation efforts and identifying Black-owned businesses to support.
- The Minneapolis/St. Paul & National Delivery Center team kicked off an essential item donation drive for a church in north Minneapolis.
- The Portland store team shared information about Juneteenth during their morning meeting and chose a local organization for a donation.
- The Merchandising and Design team spent the afternoon researching and reaching out to Black artisans to start the process to bring diversity into our vendor partners. The team also coordinated a donation drive for a north Minneapolis church.
- Our Human Resources and Web groups both used books, movies and other media to anchor discussions about issues like racism and discrimination.
We are inspired by the many efforts made by our colleagues to start a dialogue with each other, work to end racism and make a difference for the Black community. We are making progress while also acknowledging this effort will take time and understanding there is more work to be done.