Each summer, Urban Initiatives spends time evaluating our work from the previous school year, developing plans for the new school year, and setting goals for our team and our organization. This year, we turned up the volume on our planning processes even higher to accommodate all the remote learning changes! One of the areas that we renewed our focus on is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Our DEI committee has set new goals for UI this year, and we are excited to share them with you.
Our work is grounded in three core beliefs that are critical to the successful delivery of our mission:
1) We believe in the dignity of each and every person and that our identities impact our experiences
2) We believe we can all play a role in supporting a vibrant and thriving city
3) We believe a diverse team makes us stronger and more effective, and that building unity in diversity is the way to break down barriers and to create a more equitable distribution of opportunities
By combining the power of sport and play with intentionality in working toward anti-racism and anti-oppressive transformation, we make these beliefs actionable. The following three goals will direct our actions taken towards anti-racism this school year.
Create an inclusive and equitable workplace for staff who identify as Black.
Urban Initiatives is not immune to the effects of systemic racism or systemic anti-Blackness, so focusing our efforts to ensure UI is as positive an experience as possible for our Black team members is a critical goal this year. We will continue to assess staff-wide satisfaction through our annual DEI survey (which is going on its third year of completion) and use it as a baseline to measure progress in this goal area. Additionally, we will be piloting racial caucus groups at the organization-wide level to ensure staff has safe, supportive spaces. We will also be continuing our partnership with Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism to learn how we can continue to make progress towards racial equity.
Ensure UI community members, including program participants, partners, funders, and volunteers, have a clear understanding of UI’s DEI values, support those values and understand how those values impact their role in our organizational approach.
If you’re a UI stakeholder reading this blog post, this is where you come in! Whether a school partner, volunteer, Board member, or supporter, we want you to understand UI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion values and know how you can support those values in your role at Urban Initiatives.
Many of our stakeholders have already begun this work! Several representatives from our Board of Directors have participated in a training with our partner, Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism. Our Board will also be launching a DEI Liaison role to ensure that this education and action continue at our highest governance level.
We will also have conversations with each of our school partners, donors, and volunteers about how they can take anti-racist, anti-oppressive action as a UI stakeholder. We look forward to your support and enthusiasm for this work!
Programs use an inclusive and healing-centered approach to empower and celebrate youth.
Our final goal is to apply our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion values directly to our mission and our programs. Our team will be infusing these values into our curriculum, program sessions, and training. Each UI programmatic session should be as inclusive and equitable as possible, and our team is always striving to apply the most innovative best practices.
We’ve taken some initial steps, including introducing a healing-centered approach to our work that recognizes the collective nature of trauma and works to address it through holistic practices.
This year we are incredibly excited to apply a data-driven approach to our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts. As we’ve seen, there’s a lot of talk about diversity and inclusion, but rarely do these allyship efforts translate into measurable, meaningful action. We are working to combat this narrative by tracking key performance indicators related to each of these goals to ensure accountability and progress.
Urban Initiatives continues our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion this year, and we look forward to working with our schools, supporters, and youth to put our values into action. As always, if you have any questions about our efforts, you can send our DEI committee an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!