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New online dashboards highlight equity concerns in Virginia

Virginia's equity and diversity team created an online dashboard highlighting equities across the state.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam is trying to improve equity and inclusion in Virginia.

Northam pledged progress in 2019 after an investigation into a photo showing someone in blackface on his EVMS yearbook page. The results of that investigation were inconclusive and the governor said he was not the man in the picture.

The Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the Equity Leadership Taskforce stepped up and created two new online dashboards to help strengthen equity in the community. 

The Equity-in-Action dashboard will show data focusing on the COVID-19 response and recovery resources.

“COVID-19 has placed a spotlight on existing health and equity and what we know is structural racism is so nebulous, but this dashboard makes inequity visible," said Governor's Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Dr.  Janice Underwood. 

The Equity-at-a-Glance portal aims to show inequities in housing security, food access, and income. 

“So starting with income and poverty, we see that Virginia is 10th in the nation," said Director of Innovation and Strategy, Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, Seon Rockwell.

Underwood held a virtual meeting to show how the dashboards work and how they will help the public get much-needed resources.

“It will help localities target resources that are coming into Virginia. Resources the are coming in like racial equity and vaccine equity," said Underwood. 

Underwood explained the information in the dashboards is organized from all 133 localities in Virginia. Underwood explains the numbers should help local leaders decide where specific resource funds go.

“If used properly by local leaders, state leaders, and decision-makers and policymakers. We’ll provide guidance on how to direct those resources so that we can find and see a measurable impact from those dollars in that investment," said Underwood. 

The dashboards are live and regularly updated. They show how each city compares to others across the state.

“You can’t change what you don’t measure and you can’t measure that which you don’t acknowledge," said Underwood.