A Deeper Dive Into Equity – EQUALITY VS. EQUITY

Equality is an approach in which all members of a society are afforded opportunities, access and treatment in the same manner.  

Equity is the guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all, where individuals are not at a disadvantage from achieving their full potential because of their background or social position. A key principle of equity is the acknowledgment that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations who through systemic inequality, have not had equal access to resources, opportunities or support systems. Equity requires identifying and eliminating the institutional, organizational and societal barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups, and developing the solutions and support systems that are relevant to social structures, trends and challenges. 

In the graphic above, the apples represent opportunities people need in order to reach their potential; the size of the individuals represents the impact that systemic inequities has on people and communities; and the boxes represent support systems that help individuals overcome barriers so they can thrive. 


  • What is one opportunity (“apple”) you would like everyone in your community to have access to?
  • What is one barrier may be preventing some individuals/groups from accessing that opportunity?
  • How can individuals and institutions in your community create support systems (“boxes”) to help people overcome this barrier?

Equity & Child Hunger

According to the USDA, 1 in 6 children in the U.S. do not know where their next meal is coming from. Food insecurity and child hunger prevent youth from achieving their full potential. When kids are hungry, they cannot learn and they do not have the energy they need to stay active and healthy. That’s why the Y serves nutritious meals and snacks to thousands of children and teens in more than 3,000 communities across the country. In 2016, nearly half a million youth received out-of-school nutrition from their local Y.

Learn more about our food program provided by the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Understanding Privilege

Privilege is defined as an “unearned benefit or advantage one receives in society by nature of their identity.” Examples of aspects of identity that can afford privilege include ability, age, citizenship status, economic/social class, gender identity, race, religion and sexual orientation. It is important to remember that the possession of identity-based privilege is beyond one’s control; it is counterproductive to feel—or cause someone to feel—guilty or insecure about their privilege. However, awareness of privilege is an important first step toward developing a greater sense of empathy towards others and awareness of the barriers that prevent certain groups from obtaining equitable access to opportunities. Watch a video highlighting a “privilege walk” exercise intended to help individuals assess their privileges – across various aspects of their identity – relative to others in a group.

Delivering Preventive Health Care to All

The Y offers an equitable approach to health challenges in all communities.
Hundreds of Ys across the country run evidence-based programs to battle chronic diseases and health issues that particularly affect minorities.


Asian Americans and other minority groups have a higher risk for stroke and hypertension compared to Caucasians.

We offer Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring as a way to help those with high blood pressure reduce their risk.

More than 22 million adults report some degree of activity limitation because of arthritis.

We provide Enhance®Fitness programs to improve the quality of life for older adults and people with arthritis.


source: YMCA Member News Article: February 2017