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National MS Society Signs on to Statement of Guiding Principles to Advance Racial Equity and Justice

June 16, 2021

As leaders who are committed to equity and justice, as mission-focused organizations who are stewards of the public trust, and as a nonprofit sector with far-reaching impact on the national economy, the undersigned are committed to advancing racial justice and equity in all areas of civic and community life. We are deeply moved by the stark racial injustice that the intersecting crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and police violence toward people of color have once again revealed -- racial injustice that is intertwined with America’s past and its present. The racial and ethnic disparities that persist across economic, education, healthcare, criminal justice, and other sectors of society make clear that systemic racism continues to undermine the foundations of well-being for communities of color by denying access to opportunity and making it more difficult to secure jobs, housing, healthcare, education, nutrition, and equal treatment under law.

Faced with this moment of national urgency and entrusted by communities to lead in crisis, we affirm and commit to utilizing the following principles and values as a guide in our individual and collective efforts to advance equity and justice:

We commit to dismantling systemic racism, redressing past discrimination, and advancing equity within our organizations, in our communities, and in our nation--through our organizational policies and practices, in our programmatic work and by advocating for changes in public policy and law. Racial and ethnic disparities are a direct result of systemic racism today as well as past, unremedied discrimination that was often imposed or sanctioned by the government. Addressing these disparities requires our active engagement to change law, policy, and practice.

We are committed to achieving a more comprehensive approach to justice and safety that invests needed resources in schools, child care, mental and behavioral health, affordable housing, job training, and other supportive programs and services that contribute to healthy, strong, safe, and vibrant communities. Societal goals of racial justice and public safety are best achieved when communities have the resources to match crisis situations with an appropriate response, whether that be mental and behavioral health, social service, police, or other interventions.

As we work to strengthen communities, we must listen to and lift up the voices and experiences of impacted people and communities, particularly the voices of young people in those communities who will lead future generations. Intentionally engaging impacted communities strengthens policies, strategies, and decision-making. When we center and address the needs of the most marginalized, we recognize their humanity and advance equity and opportunity for all.

As we evaluate our programmatic work as well as policy proposals and legislation, we will specifically examine the extent to which they decrease racial disparities and oppression, particularly in systems and settings known to disproportionately and negatively impact people of color and other marginalized groups; advance solutions that have been developed in collaboration with and have the support of impacted communities; incorporate an intersectional and multi-sector approach to community challenges; and include the investments needed to fully implement and achieve racial equity outcomes.
  • Alliance for Strong Families and Communities
  • American Alliance of Museums
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
  • American Heart Association
  • American Lung Association
  • Americans for the Arts
  • Americans for the Arts Action Fund
  • The Arc of the United States
  • The Army of Survivors
  • Association of Art Museum Directors
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • Cancer Support Community
  • Catholic Charities USA
  • Council for Advancement and Support of Education
  • Covenant House International
  • Dance/USA
  • Feeding America
  • Futures Without Violence
  • Girls Inc.
  • Goodwill Industries International, Inc.
  • Habitat for Humanity International
  • Hemophilia Federation of America
  • Independent Sector
  • Leadership 18
  • League of American Orchestras
  • Lutheran Services in America
  • Mental Health America
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • National Council on Aging
  • National Council of Nonprofits
  • National Health Council
  • National Human Services Assembly
  • National MS Society
  • Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies
  • The Nonprofit Alliance
  • OPERA America
  • United Philanthropy Forum
  • United Way Worldwide
  • The Salvation Army
  • Volunteers of America
  • Welcoming America

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


© 2023 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.