Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Diversity, equity, and inclusion form the basis of our work at United Way of Southeast Louisiana.  

We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable. And we’re committed to fight until that vision becomes a reality. 

Equity is one of our Blueprint for Prosperity’s six Core Values that represent our highest priorities and deeply held beliefs. We recognize having a diverse organization allows us to benefit from a variety of perspectives and strengthens our ability to achieve our mission to eradicate poverty. View our full Statement of Diversity here

To promote equity in our community, we must first do the work to ensure our organization is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. 



United Way Partners with Resilia

United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) and Resilia, a “tech-for-good” social enterprise, have come together to strengthen the capacity of BIPOC-led nonprofits in our region. Resilia is providing 1:1 coaching, online training, fundraising tools, peer-to-peer learning, access to over 100 customizable templates, and actionable resources on topics ranging from board management strategic planning to help these organizations maximize their impact. 

“By providing access to vital resources, coaching, and support, we aim to level the playing field, empowering these BIPOC-led and serving organizations to reach their full potential,” says Mary Ambrose, Chief Equity and Impact Officer, United Way of Southeast Louisiana. “Together with Resilia, we envision a future where our trusted nonprofit partners – regardless of size, background, or resources – can thrive and contribute to building a stronger, more equitable Southeast Louisiana for every person everywhere.” 

Learn more



What’s the Difference Between Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

We use the following shared definitions – affirmed by our staff and board - to represent the values and practices we’re committed to as an organization. 

Diversity: the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs.

Equity: the quality of being fair and impartial. 

Inclusion: involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized. An inclusive environment promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and practices respect for the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of its members.

Culture: the variety of created systems that govern our daily activities and interactions to meet our needs and accomplish our goals, and the ways in which various systems interact with one another.



Actions We’re Taking to Promote DEI 

There are no quick fixes or easy steps to success with DEI. We’re committed to ongoing evaluation and change at every level to make our internal and external practices more equitable. We’re taking steps and developing strategies to embed DEI into the DNA of who we are and how we work with communities to generate positive impact.

Internal Practices 

  • Surveyed senior leadership and staff to assess and audit our internal practices and operations for equity. Coordinated culture and DEI trainings for full staff meetings based on the results of this survey. 
  • Evaluated Board of Trustees membership and created a multi-year plan to build a board that is more diverse, inclusive, and representative of the seven-parish region we serve. 
  • Seeking to engage with more minority-owned businesses. 
  • Reviewing our hiring, vendors, and operational practices and policies to create a supportive workplace environment, centered on inclusion and belonging, where our team can thrive and do their best work. 
  • Working to establish an internal staff committee and a committee of external local experts to continue to move our DEI work forward.  


  • Reevaluated grant-making process to ensure funds are directed to service providers and programs that center equity in their work. 
  • Beginning in 2018, offered each grantee an opportunity to complete an equity audit as part of our rigorous application process. Equity evaluations will continue to be included in future grant applications. 
  • Committed to a three-year grant cycle to provide consistent support to impact-focused programs because we know eradicating poverty and building equitable communities requires long-term effort. 
  • Partnered with BET and United Way World Wide to address and provide financial relief to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the African American community in New Orleans.

Public Policy and Advocacy  

  • Advocating for bipartisan policy that removes systemic barriers so all individuals have equitable access to resources and opportunities (view our 2020 Legislative Agenda here
  • Collaborating with advocacy partners to mobilize supporters and increase the power of our collective voice to create change 
  • Hosted a statewide Equal Pay Summit in partnership with the Office of Governor John Bel Edwards in 2017 and continue to advocate for pay transparency and equal pay legislation.


  • Helped coordinate the United Way Worldwide 2019 Equity Summit in New Orleans. 
  • Presented at the 2019 PEAK Conference on embedding an equity lens in the grant process. 
  • Participated in local and national external panels and presentations regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

In the News



Join our Fight for Equitable Communities 

Meaningful change happens when we work together. By challenging practices based on racism, sexism, and other historical and current forms of discrimination, we can create more inclusive communities and equitable outcomes. Learn more about opportunities to engage in our DEI work below. 

Learn about becoming a United Way SELA board member (Coming soon) 

Learn about the external DEI Advisory Committee (Coming soon)