REDI Journey

California’s First 5s serve one of the most diverse states in the nation, playing a crucial role in funding and shaping early learning resources for hundreds of thousands of children and families – many who are affected by structural racism.

The First 5 Network believes it’s crucial to center Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) to truly address the opportunity gap and champion racial equity. We know that our children won’t be READY for school and life if our systems are not centered in REDI.

Our REDI Journey, started in 2021, reflects two years of progress — steps taken, decisions made, lessons learned, and plans for moving forward. It’s part of an ongoing, dynamic story of striving for a brighter today and an even brighter future for all children and families in California.

REDI began with a commitment and transitioned rapidly to learning in action

The dedicated REDI Core Team was tasked with a vital first mission: to develop a roadmap for the REDI journey. They developed a Theory of Change (TOC) to outline the vision and intentions behind REDI efforts.

The TOC goes beyond setting a clear goal; it establishes core values guiding the team’s collaboration, focusing on understanding challenges and recognizing the potential for positive change. 

It outlines strategies for impacting individuals, the entire First 5 Network, and the broader community. It also sets clear metrics to track progress along the way.

Timeline and scope of activities that First 5 Network members engaged in

Paving the Way for REDI

Some REDI participants have faced resistance or hostility when promoting racial equity. Small changes can lead to significant shifts over time. Each First 5 has unique challenges and will progress at its own pace, recognizing that this is long-term work. 

Participants identified three key areas for applying REDI principles: funding and investments, strategic planning, and community engagement and partnerships. The examples in the diagram are not final models but serve as ideas to inform and inspire.

REDI Venn Diagram
Balance of power

Distribute equally across stakeholders

Learn from peers

Tap the experience of others that have addressed similar issues to share lessons, examples, etc.

Long-term priority

Include REDI efforts in each step / plan

Continue offering supports

Encourage peer learning and support

Know your why

Where does REDI show up now? How do you want it to show up, and why?

Use data

Use disaggregated data, stories, and experiences to make visible where they equity gaps are

Center families

Understand family needs to influence REDI efforts

Plan / design

Identify 1-3 next steps toward your desired goals / outcomes

Listen and learn

Identify who you want to engage and learn about their lived experiences, interests, and goals

Use plain language

Be clear in communicating and provide translation services inclusive of the whole community

Reach out

Work with community ambassadors

Offer technical support

Develop a simple how-to guide


Build relationships in underserved communities and nurture these over the long term

Identify outcomes

Get clear on what success will look like (qualitative and quantitative)

Define REDI

Agree on common language and understanding of what REDI (or other term) means to you

Set guiding principles

Ensure that your process (not just the results) is REDI

Reflect and assess

Monitor progress and use lessons to inform ongoing efforts

Center mission

Tackle REDI as a mission issue, rather than a political one

Build support

Navigate your specific political context by engaging allies, creating feedback loops, etc.

Keep doing the individual work

Continue your own self-development toward practicing anti-racism

REDI Isn't Just a Buzzword

It’s a mindset and a way of operating. Any individual, organization, or system can use this as an approach to awareness and behavior for being more inclusive and equitable.

Looking ahead: Getting REDI

The time for action is now. Many individuals and organizations have already embarked on their REDI journeys, witnessing progress through dedicated effort. Embracing change demands perseverance, endurance, and unwavering commitment to co-creating stronger communities. Continued self-awareness and education remain essential as we navigate this path of transformation.

It isn’t easy, but by shouldering this collective responsibility, we pave the way for meaningful change. Join us in creating systems that are READY for our children by centering race, equity, diversity, and inclusion (REDI). Together, we’ll go further in creating a more just future.