House Meetings for Equity



Detailed Description

  • An opportunity for community coalitions, individual change agents, organizations, faith-based groups, networks, friends & neighbors to build relationships and take concrete and specific action to advance equity in their community.
  • An opportunity for leaders to connect with those most affected by inequity. For example:
  • To connect to local residents and people with lived experience of inequity
  • To create & sustain community around issues of inequity
  • At any gathering place: Homes, schools, gymnasiums, rooms at places of worship, community centers, workplaces, senior centers, parks, libraries
  • Ideally conducted in person (can be a virtual gathering with web cameras on Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangouts, etc.)


Failing Forward Moments

In a workspace:

  • Be intentional about the space you choose to hold a House Meeting.
  • If hosting a virtual meeting, test out the technology and be mindful of engaging those who are joined by web if there is a mix of those in person and those who connect virtually.
  • Be thoughtful of the identities you bring into the House Meetings: if you share your own experience, give yourself time to prepare what you want to share.
  • If Origin Stories are included as a team building exercise, assign pre-work to allow participants to prepare for the meeting.
  • Anyone can share their story no matter where they are in their equity journey, just make sure to have an open mind and open heart through the process of holding a house equity meeting
  • Be open to adapt to the energy and flow of the room.

As a class assignment:

  • Learners should be coached to not act as the "experts" at the table and may need practice with listening and facilitating rather than teaching (a partner in the process) - can use Habits of the Heart to help with this (this is an opportunity for co-learning & listening)
  • Better to do the house meetings in groups of 2-3 so people don't worry about doing them alone & should have a practice session prior to hosting the meetings so they feel more comfortable
  • Be prepared with follow-up actions for folks - what to do next if they are interested
  • Make the concept of equity your own (tie it to yourself and your audience) & adapt the template to your audience so it is useful to them

With a refugee-based organization:

  • In the actual meetings, keep the conversations really organic
  • Extend another meeting you were already having to encourage participation (rather than a separate meeting to talk about these issues)
  • Talking about race and racism may be new for these communities; not everyone had the same experiences with inequities/injustice though they may not have known to call it that (perhaps a language issue)
  • Some people may express fear about stepping up to take a leadership role on this because they are afraid to lose benefits if they become more "visible"; some folks had relatives with expired visas so they were afraid to expose themselves; the leaders of these conversations need to know how to tell them that they would be safe (lacked information to prove this);
  • Leaders of these conversations need to be clear as to the end point of these conversations & what to tell people to do next


Type of Tool

Tool or toolkit


Equity, House Meetings, Social Justice, Community Organizing, Capacity Building

Key Contacts

Cleola Payne


  • Family and social support

  • Housing and homelessness

  • System change: Public health transformation

  • System change: Health care transformation

  • System change: Faith community transformation

  • System change: Community transformation

  • System change: Policy transformation

  • System change: Cultural transformation

  • Equity

  • Equity: Racism

  • Education

  • Equity: Place

  • People (community residents, community members with lived experience)

  • Education

  • Faith-based

  • Health care (payers, service providers, device/pharma, IT/infrastructure)

  • Public health

  • Community-based organizations/nonprofits

  • Law, justice and public safety (legal, judicial, criminal justice)

  • Housing

  • Social/human services

  • Equitable

  • In partnership

  • Individual/family

  • Interpersonal (between people)

  • Network

  • Organization

  • Community/place

  • Policy/system

  • Culture

  • School

  • Faith community

  • Workplace

  • Home

  • Neighborhood

  • Social services

  • Broader community

  • Adults 18+

  • Adults 18-44

  • Adults 45-64

  • Older adults 65+

Geographic Context
  • Urban/large city

  • Suburban

  • Small town

  • Rural

  • Frontier (<5000 people)

  • Village

Geographic Unit
  • Neighborhood

  • City/Town

Words to Describe