public-policy newsletter

Recommendations to Biden Administration on Achieving Equity

January 26, 2021

By Jeff Fleischer, NHSA Board Chair and Adolph Falcón, EVP, National Alliance for Hispanic Health

Before, during, and after the pandemic–whenever that time arrives–the nonprofit human service sector has been and will be the bedrock of communities across the country.

We showed up in every way a human has needs. We provided shelter and housing, food, clothing, family supports, mental health and more, serving our neighbors from all walks of life in a time of unprecedented individual and community need.

As our nation has a mosaic of organizations who serve neighborhoods all across the country, we are fortunate to have a strong foundation of 1.6 million nonprofit community-based programs that employ over 11.6 million workers nationally and is the third largest sector of our economy, after retail and manufacturing. However, like all of us, the pandemic had devastating consequences to our field.

About one-third of nonprofit organizations are in danger of folding or merging as revenue for the human service sector has dramatically declined during the pandemic. Yet, nonprofit human service organizations have stepped up to serve our communities in life-saving ways.

Our front line workers, that reach every community across America, have continued to support children, youth, families, adults and seniors all thru the pandemic, even though front line workers put their health and lives on the line each and everyday, and are more likely to represent groups with higher vulnerability to COVID mortality.

President Biden has prioritized racial justice and inequity early in his administration. We are leaders in addressing racial inequities, as many of the people we serve have experienced first-hand the institutional and systemic racism of so many systems, and our organizations are often rooted in communities of color. Here are some recommendations for the Biden Administration to consider:

  • Appoint a cabinet level position as liaison to the nonprofit human service sector.
  • Include human service sector leaders in leadership appointments of key agencies to represent the needs of those closest to the communities the government is charged to serve.
  • Embrace the nonprofit community-based, human service sector as a partner to address inequities within and across systems, including expanding nonprofit sector/government partnerships.
  • Redirect government funds from jails, prisons and cages, to community organizations, closest to our neighborhoods where creative solutions and innovative care is possible.
  • Include human service sector leaders in strategy. Tap into our expertise and include the sector in planning and strategy on how to allocate resources and tackle our most important issues.
  • Build in financial support to strengthen the vast mosaic of nonprofit organizations providing essential supports in our communities and addressing critical issues across the life span.
  • Value the input of communities to solve problems. As part of a whole government initiative to advance equity, embrace the advice of people with lived experience–those credible messengers most likely to help advance equity and policies that promote fairness and justice.
  • Value nonprofit organizations that work to organize and advocate communities around justice issues, in addition to those that provide vital direct services.
  • Promote equity in leadership and board of directors of companies that the federal government does business with.

By shifting to community-based organizations to address inequity and create solutions, we tap into what is our national strategic reserve by empowering those most impacted by our policies and practices to create and offer more effective and meaningful solutions. And because the solutions are developed by community residents ourselves, we are most likely to succeed.

Human services are designed to strengthen our community by providing the solid foundation of essential supports that help people live up to their full potential. The sector’s deep experience and commitment to the well-being of every one of our community members makes us uniquely prepared to help our community navigate through the immediate response to COVID and the long-term rebuilding process that will follow. We ask that the Biden Administration make a meaningful and sustained commitment to bolstering the community’s health and human service infrastructure.