ReadyKids has been on a journey that began in 2013 with an equity assessment from TMI Consulting to become a more diverse and equitable workplace environment. Over six years, an internal “Cultural Acumen” committee raised awareness amongst staff of their own identities and how race, class and gender impact interactions with ReadyKids participants.
In 2020, as a part of our new Strategic Plan, we collaborated with another consulting agency called The Spark Mill. They helped us again reflect on how ReadyKids can continue to build an inclusive and affirming organizational climate for both employees and participants, and ensure we more effectively engage marginalized members of our community.
As a part of the strategic planning process, the Cultural Acumen committee has shifted to become the “Culturally Aware, Responsive, and Equitable” (CARE) Team. The CARE Team facilitates activities that engage topics related to culture, diversity, equity, inclusion, and systemic racism and injustice. In these areas, the CARE team challenges ReadyKids staff, assesses the organization, helps us recognize our own biases and social context as individuals and as a whole, and provides ongoing education for staff. It’s a long journey, but we’re grateful to be in a community that pushes us to not be complacent and holds us accountable to the needs of all children and families.
A committee was formed to name racial disparities and injustices that effect children in Central Virginia. The committee also defined how ReadyKids will advocate for children, particularly the most vulnerable, while not centering ourselves in the narrative or putting participants at risk. Conclusions of this committee outlined our role as educators, advocates and thought leaders.
After the death of George Floyd, we issued a statement on how Racism is Trauma. We vow to listen to Black children and their families. We vow to learn about how racial trauma is pervasive and has lasting effects. We vow to stand in solidarity with Black leaders to identify and eliminate systematic racism. Moreover, we vow not to be silent, because to be silent is to be complicit.
Connect for Culture is a segment of the monthly ReadyKids staff meeting that informs about a particular topic. In FY20, Connect for Culture focused around the racial history of Charlottesville. During FY21, Connect for Culture will focus on the intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States.
Staff meet in small group discussions (with a set group of people) during an extended portion of the staff meeting, to self-examine and explore their feelings about topics relating to the Connect for Culture presentation.
Small group activities and large formal activities designed to dive deep into issues, challenge staff to self-examine and identify the ways the topic affects them. In FY20, this included a walking tour and presentation from Charlene Green at the City of Charlottesville’s Office of Human Rights. In FY21, this will include a viewing of Ava DuVernay’s film 13th and panel discussion from participants in our REAL Dads program.
A structured and formal process that examines organizational practices and leads to concrete action steps that are taken to improve our cultural responsiveness. Also, individual and team assessments that examine program practices/procedures and lead to concrete action steps that are taken to improve cultural responsiveness. Because of these assessments, our Human Resources and Leadership teams are currently rethinking how to recruit and retain diverse talent.
will guide our efforts from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023 –includes hiring an outreach coordinator to invest in deep community engagement and trust building, removing barriers to effective program participation, and empowering families with tools for self-advocacy. These are just three among many changes we will make. Click here to see a complete summary of our strategic plan.
ReadyKids intends to engage in this work until every child has equal access to equal opportunities.