The Equity Center, U.Va.

The Equity Center

A UVA Democracy Initiative center for the redress of inequity through community-engaged scholarship

UVA Board of Visitors endorses goals presented by the Racial Equity Task Force

U.Va. Board of Visitors votes to contextualize Thomas Jefferson statue, remove George Rogers Clark statue

UVa site consolidates resources on virtual learning, child care for area families

UVA groups launch equity website for Charlottesville-area community

August 2020 Newsletter

Fifth week of Cities Rising Summit to focus on education equity

Tanesha Hudson, Community Fellow-in-Residence, Premieres R.A.C.E. Podcast

Three years later, Charlottesville looks to educator Benjamin Tonsler’s legacy

"There’s a deadly paradox here. This virus is amplifying racial inequities with a disproportionate impact on the Black and Latinx communities, locally as well as nationally. To limit in-person school is to honor the health of the Black and brown community. But without radical thinking and quick action, we risk perpetuating educational inequities."

Local Steering Committee Member Don Gathers Speaks out against racist threats that cut short his city council run

UVA IDEA fund announces MLM Endorsed Award grant - CBS19

The University of Virginia Equity Center has been selected as this year's Marcus L. Martin Endorsed Award.

The UVA IDEA fund announced on Wednesday the Equity Center will be getting a $5,000 grant to support its work to facilitate long-term, institutional change in the areas of inclusion, diversity, equity and access.

A Conversation on Racial Equity and Technology

Equity Center Lead Data Analyst, Dr. Michele Claibourn, discusses the Equity Atlas with Saif Y Ishoof, Vice President for Engagement at Florida International University, and Dr. Charlton McIlwain, Vice Provost for Faculty Engagement and Development at New York University.

Local Steering Committee Member Charlene Green talks to TomTom Founder Paul Beyer about Friendship Court Renewal

The Girls are Alwrite: 2nd Annual Summer Camp

This year “The Girls are Alwrite” is hosting its second annual summer camp virtually. Rising 6th - 12th grade Black and Latinx girls are invited to join Camp Coaches Sonia Montalvo, V the Writer, Tessa Thompson, and Brande Mccleese as they engage in and create poetry, fiction, and nonfiction pieces. To register visit:

City Council signals support for frontline workers

The City Council discussed the Frontline Workers Fair Treatment Charter during its meeting early Tuesday morning.

Ben Allen, executive director of The Equity Center, said the charter would allow public and private employers to be certified as meeting a list of 12 employment practices laid out in the charter.

Equity Center research featured in Charlottesville Tomorrow: Determined to Be Free

Equity Center Lead Data Scientist Michele Claiborn and Research Associate Sam Powers contributed to Charlottesville Tomorrow’s “Determined” series. Using the Equity Atlas platform, Dr. Claiborn and Mr. Powers compiled Charlottesville City Police Department records of street stops by CPD officers. The Equity Atlas allowed the detentions data to be visualized both spatially and broken down by race, showing clearly that disparities persist in city policing.

Equity Center Faculty Director, Barbara Brown Wilson, Appointed to UVA’s Racial Equity Task Force

UVA President Jim Ryan appointed Kevin McDonald, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Ian Solomon, Dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; and Barbara Brown Wilson, Assistant Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning and co-founder and Faculty Director of UVA’s Equity Center, to a task force addressing racial equity at UVA. The Task Force is reviewing stakeholder demands for racial equity going back 50 years and meeting with current student, faculty, and administrative voices. Recommendations for university actions will be presented publicly mid-August.

For more details and to become involved, visit:

Actionable Steps

Social media presents a myriad of tweets, commentary, and opinions on the events of the last few weeks. Rage, anger, disbelief, grief, and in some cases those who choose to deflect from the underlying cause of it all - systematic racism. I have hesitated adding to this range of emotion with the thought that my voice wouldn’t make a difference - that it wouldn’t change anything. But I realized while we can’t change what happened, we do have the power to change this from occurring again. Allow me to offer some perspective.

In the past few weeks we have literally watched the murders of Black bodies on national television. Yet as we grieve the loss of Amhaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, David McAtee and many others, Black Americans also have to be available to explain to others how we’re feeling, whether we’re ok or not, and our opinion on what people should be doing to address this. We are expected to attend Zoom meetings, go to work, to continue to put on our armour and be ok. As tough and as resilient as we are - we are not ok.  

I appreciate the people who have reached out to me via text or called to ask if I’m doing well. It shows compassion, shows you care. Collectively we have to do more because this keeps happening. So with the same energy that you post on social media, I need you to harness it and be ready for action. Action starts with yourself in reflection. It starts with recognizing how you may intentionally or unintentionally propagate systematic racism. For those who may be new to this, guide your thinking with this reading list from Ibram X. Kendi. If you are ready to take action read this piece by activist and UVA student, Zyahna Bryant. 

Consider the organization you work for. Are there diverse voices at the decision making table? If not, what are you doing to ensure that happens? Are you going to point out inequitable practices and hold leadership at every level accountable?  

Are you going to support community based organizations that are doing the work? Donate your time, money, resources in a way that is beneficial to the community and not a way to self promote or satisfy misplaced guilt. Specifically for today, consider supporting the following local organizations. By no means is this an exhaustive list.  I encourage you to research organizations that support the Charlottesville Black Community.  

And most importantly, listen. Listen to the powerful voices of Black leadership in our community such as Don Gathers, Daniel Fairley, Leah Puryear, Joy Johnson, Karen Waters-Wicks, Tami Wright, Tanesha Hudson, and Cameron Webb. Support those who are doing the work 7 days a week in our community: Shantell Bingham, Lehman Bates, Andrea Douglas, Charlene Green, Myra Anderson, Destinee Wright, Libby Edwards-Allbaugh, Harold Folley, and Mary Coleman. The injustices you are now beginning to really see - we’ve been trying to tell you for a long time because we have lived it. 

When the hashtags are no longer trending and the streets are quieter, remember these emotions you are seeing and feeling. Turn it into action and fight for structural change. I will continue to reflect to better myself, support my UVA and Charlottesville community, and listen to the strong voices that show leadership in a time of great need.  I pray that you join me so that George Floyd does not pass us by as another hashtag.  


In Partnership, 

Ben Allen, Ed.D

Executive Director, UVA Equity Center 


The Equity Center was recently created in part to redress racial and economic inequality in university communities through critical conversations, authentic community partnerships with shared power, and meaningful action.


Local Steering Committee Member Shantell Bingham Featured in "Determined" Series

Shantell Bingham of Cultivate Charlottesville was featured in Charlottesville Tomorrow and Vinegar Hill Magazine's "Determined to be Nourished" article.

Local Steering Committee Member Daniel Fairley 'Runs with Ahmaud'

Facing a spike in food insecurity, local organizations band together

Highlighting the partnership between the Food Justice Network, Equity Center, and the Global Policy Center.

University Sets up Volunteer Center For Community Response Pandemic

The Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Outreach, UVA Health’s Office of Community Partnerships, the University’s Equity Center and the Office of Economic Development have partnered to establish the employee Volunteer Center.

Making Commitments and creating trust are hallmarks of Public Service

Barbara Wilson given the Thomas Jefferson Award for Early Career Excellence in Community Engagement.

"Giving Thanks" - Community Launch of the Equity Center

This event is to thank our community for putting their faith and work into building the Equity Center. We want to begin by thanking them too for all they have done to build and support UVA.  It will be our turn to begin the structured and systemic practice of giving back. The two days will include:

  • FAFSA and College Essay Parties – UVA students will be in the community helping parents complete FAFSA forms to submit to colleges where their kids will apply, and helping youth construct essays for college applications. Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.

  • Dance Party – Live music for an old fashion dance party
  • Giving Thanks Dinner – sit-down dinner with presentations by our community partners to showcase work that has been done by the Center so far
  • Music and Film – Local activist/filmmaker will preview her film and speak along with local musicians.

November 14-15, 2019


Faculty Launch of the Equity Center

On Thursday, Oct. 31, 9:00 a.m., Harrison Auditorium of the Small Special Collections Library, an information session was presented to all UVA faculty interested in hearing about the Equity Center and how they could be a part of its work. 

Click HERE to download presentation slides. 

Click HERE to view additional photos from the event.