Nonprofits are in the business of making their communities healthier, stronger and more enriching for all of its members. Whether they are involved in health care, the arts, civil rights, religious activities, or any other worthwhile charitable cause, nonprofits influence the quality of life for people in the communities they serve. In a community as culturally diverse as Jackson, organizations that value diversity – diversity in thought, planning processes, and recruitment strategies – are stronger.
Diversity and inclusion, also referred to as Cultural Competency, leads to sustainability, better decision making, a more inclusive process, an increase in independent thought and a 360° organizational perspective. Cultural Competency is commonly defined as having the knowledge, skills, and values to work effectively with diverse populations and to adapt institutional policies and professional practices to meet the unique needs of client populations.
Capacity builders, like Nonprofit Network, can contribute to organizations who desire to be more diverse and inclusive, by helping them develop a vision for an inclusive environment, and provide concrete tools, practices and processes that eliminate barriers to success. Nonprofit Network is responsible for ensuring that all nonprofit organizations in Michigan have affordable access to best practices that help them to be efficient and effective. Ignoring how diversity and inclusion affects an organization’s ability to fulfill their mission and serve the community would be ignoring our mission.
“Culturally-based” capacity building is defined as providing transformational technical support and training services for individuals, organizations, and communities in their unique cultural contexts based on knowledge, awareness, and sensitivity to the issues of race/ethnicity, language, gender, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, age, disability, and religion. Nonprofit Network will foster capacity building through concrete community engagement, organizational development, and relationship building strategies.
Tested and proven methods of transforming communities in the areas of diversity and inclusion include the following key starting points:
· Developing the leadership capacity of Individuals
· Strengthening the Capacity of Community Institutions
Nonprofit Network will accomplish this through:
· Implementing a leadership development program for underrepresented minority groups through the L.E.A.D. (Leadership Exploration Achieving Diversity) cohort program
· Engaging community members in implementing effective community outreach/education programs
· Building trusting cross-cultural relationships
· Engage in, facilitate and lead cross-cultural bridge building
· Build core organizational capacities to better lead, manage, govern and adapt to external changes
Diversity and inclusion is not a luxury, but an important foundation for organizations – making it possible to serve all communities, bridge across differences, and ultimately improve the social, health and educational outcomes of children and youth. However, this is a long journey that cannot be addressed and fixed in a few months. The conversation we start will take years to complete.