During the 2017–2018 school year, Urban Initiatives made a commitment to prioritize our efforts to foster unity, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We believe these values are critical to our mission. Developing a plan and actions to be proactively an anti-oppressive and anti-racist institution is foundational in our work.
In order to support continual progress toward our DEI goals and objectives UI has:
- Developed a Unity Statement and a DEI Statement along with accompanying trainings for key stakeholders to hold ourselves accountable to these values.
- Added Unity as our sixth core value – We believe a diverse team makes us stronger, and that prioritizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is essential to breaking down barriers, creating more equitable distribution of opportunities, and combating racism and oppression.
- Engaged in staff-wide trainings with Chicago CrossRoads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training (CROAR) and internal discussions and activities about DEI
- Launched a DEI Committee with a charter and budget to positively impact our organization in all things DEI, with a focus on: Programmatic Curriculum, Marketing and Communications, Partnerships, and Talent Management
- Established timelines and action plans to continually assess our progress toward identified DEI goals
- Co-Chair of our DEI Committee Cynthia Dominguez said, “Our Committee consists of a dedicated group of nine individuals who are committed to leading the DEI charge for Urban Initiatives. Our hope is that through the creation of this Committee, we’ll enhance the great work Urban Initiatives is already doing in so many Chicago neighborhoods. We’ve already seen the dialogue shift internally with office staff, and our team members are now feeling more equipped with a better understanding to have these important conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. We recognize there is a lot of work ahead of us but we are excited about the possibilities we’ll have in the future to engage UI stakeholders and program participants in these conversations as well!”
Executive Director Jim Dower shared that he is incredibly proud of how far the team has come in bringing DEI to the forefront of our work this year, but also acknowledged that we have a long way to go. “An ongoing investment and commitment to this challenging work is key to our success. UI is committed to contributing the time, talent, and treasure necessary to continually improve our DEI efforts across all functions of our work. It’s been inspiring to watch our team come together to make this work a priority.”
Link here for our full Unity and DEI Statements.