Since 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has devastated our communities. COVID-19 has not only impacted physical health of individuals, but it has also impacted our mental health through fear, anxiety, and the need to social distance. Our connection to our communities, be it extended family, friends, or neighbors, seems fractured. Not to mention the disruptions caused in almost every sector of the economy—labor, housing, commercial, education, retail, and transportation to name a few. Our connectedness to family, friends, and neighbors; being part of our community network of coworkers, service providers, and service receivers; our relationship with nature; and our spiritual, social, intellectual, and emotional pursuits all lead to a sense of belonging.
This project, funded by the Walmart Foundation and executed in collaboration with RAND Corporation and Charles Kamasaki, provides evidence of the benefits of building more inclusive societies, shining a spotlight on communities that build cultures of belonging through empirical analysis of the pandemic response in inclusive communities and how youth have viewed their communities and belongingness.