We’re doing better—but we’ve still got work to do.

4 minute read

Amid local and national calls to end police brutality and address racial injustice, the Innovation Quarter publicly acknowledged earlier this year that systemic racism and socioeconomic hardlines create deep divisions within the Winston-Salem community. We also announced plans to work on addressing inequities, disparities and misconceptions through collaborations that level the playing field.  

We believe in the power of representation, whether in healthcare, technology, entrepreneurship, education or art —and we must be intentional about furthering our commitment to inclusivity and diversity.

But we also know that words are not enough. We must take action.

Our Next Steps

We have made progress on the initiatives we announced in our “First Steps” statement. We want to share these updates on our commitment to addressing racial inequity and advancing opportunities for marginalized people and groups in our community:

  1. We established an Innovation Quarter Diversity & Inclusion task force. This dedicated internal group will continue to develop our evolving inclusive innovation efforts within the Innovation Quarter and our sphere of influence.
  2. Our website now features an official inclusion, diversity and anti-racism statement that acknowledges the profound racial disenfranchisement embedded within the history of this part of downtown Winston-Salem.
  3. As we welcome more people into the Innovation Quarter community, we are working towards creating a system for collecting and tracking demographic and economic data to better inform our equitable impact and new efforts and initiatives.
  4. In February 2021, the Racial Equity Institute will provide ongoing racial equity training to Innovation Quarter team members and critical iQ vendors, including ambassadors from United Maintenance Corporation, Sunstates Security and Cushman & Wakefield. We’ve also cultivated a deep, unified commitment from existing development partners Wexford Science + Technology, Grubb Properties and Front Street Capital to support and participate in this training.
  5. In September, we announced iQ Community Labs. This partnership-driven initiative focused on social innovation aims to scale solutions in health and social equity in five key sectors: health; inclusive community; startup and small business scaling; education and training pipelines and spatial justice. You can learn more about iQ Community Labs here.
  6. Our newly established iQ Community Labs continues to develop an inclusive art strategy. As the City of Arts and Innovation, we believe that art can play a critical role in driving conversation and building community. We recently commissioned the “#WinstonStrong” mural on Long Branch Trail by Jessica Singerman and orchestrated the “Depot Street Renaissance” mural on 7th Street, sponsored by Inmar Intelligence and created by local artist Leo Rucker. 
  7. iQ Community Labs is working towards new strategic partnerships with entrepreneurial and small business ecosystem partners to promote diversity and inclusion resources and minority businesses within the iQ.
  8. Our commitment to creating inclusive spaces continued this summer when we welcomed Winston4Peace to Bailey Power Plant to support their equity outreach —and we are proud that Bailey Park was at the epicenter of a push for social equity in Winston-Salem. Our commitment to spatial justice recently included events like LeanBack Soul Food’s Thanksgiving dinner giveaway in Bailey Park and Second Harvest Food Bank’s weekly distribution in our parking lots along Research Parkway. In 2021, we will advance our goal to “continue to support organizations that serve to advance equity” by hosting the Soy Emprendedor ACCelera Camp in January.

These efforts represent tangible steps we have taken to do and be better, but they’re not our last steps. 

We are determined to implement and model change within our community and beyond. Our responsibility as stewards of the Innovation Quarter and the North Carolina entrepreneurial ecosystem must include continual, intentional work to bridge the physical and historical divides. We must ensure that everyone in our community is welcomed and valued here, with access to opportunities and resources.

If you’d like to engage with us directly about any of these issues, please contact Lindsey Schwab, our community relations director, at l.schwab@wakehealth.edu.

Statement of Commitment

At the Innovation Quarter, we’re committed to not only recognizing but celebrating, utilizing and elevating the valuable perspectives from historically oppressed groups, including people of color, women and the LGBTQ+ community.

We strive to be more intentional about preventing and rooting out racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry from our spaces.

As we strive to live these values, we seek to partner with and learn from organizations and individuals in and around Winston-Salem embedded in this work, to lift up voices that have been left out and to continually renew this commitment in order to ensure our community is one where all feel welcome and valued.