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Working toward greater equity and justice

Mississippi

Mississippi is making strides toward health equity, as highlighted in a recent op-ed by Vangela M. Wade, president and CEO of WKKF grantee Mississippi Center for Justice. The story sheds light on the state’s dire health outcomes due to the absence of accessible care and coverage. However, this year marked a hopeful milestone: Both the state House and Senate made a serious attempt to expand Medicaid coverage, which could benefit 123,000 Mississippians caught in the coverage gap. Although not yet successful, this progress, coupled with continued advocacy, brings hope that comprehensive health care reform is within reach, promising better health outcomes and a brighter future for all Mississippians.

The U.S. Department of Justice has initiated a civil investigation into the Lexington, Mississippi, Police Department. It was prompted by allegations of systemic violations of constitutional and civil rights, including excessive force and discriminatory policing. This follows numerous reports of misconduct against Black residents and racist remarks by former Police Chief Sam Dobbins. The investigation is supported by WKKF grantee JULIAN, which has been instrumental in highlighting these issues.

Michigan

In Battle Creek, Michigan, structural barriers have caused Black residents to be underrepresented in the thriving tech sector, despite regional growth in industries like electric vehicles and semiconductors. WKKF partner Automation Workz is spearheading efforts to remove these barriers and establish Battle Creek as a hub for tech training and employment. The initiative they lead aims to leverage local industry investments to create equitable opportunities and economic empowerment for Black residents, challenging historical barriers and aiming for inclusive growth in high-tech fields.

In Michigan, the “10 Cents a Meal” program, funded in part by WKKF grants, supports children’s access to fresh, local produce by reimbursing eligible child care providers and schools for purchasing Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables and legumes. Launched as a pilot in 2016 and now funded in part by the state, the initiative has expanded significantly. It benefitted over 269 school districts and early care and education sites in the latest funding cycle. By integrating local foods, the program not only enhances menu diversity and nutrition but also supports the efforts of local farmers and food-based entrepreneurs.

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