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Who’s Inspiring Us – Action Towards Equity in Youth Development

POSTED ON March 15, 2023

As a network of youth-serving organizations committed to addressing racism and racial inequities within our own organizations, we believe the most transformative learning and change happens in community. When the work on-the-ground within our own organizations feels at times messy, inadequate, or frustrating, we can seek hope and inspiration from colleagues across the sector who are demonstrating what equity work looks like when it bears fruit. At our recent Member Meetup in February 2023, we invited members and partners to share inspiring examples of organizations who are challenging the status quo around race and power. Today we are sharing some of those shout-outs to encourage you to keep up the good work. 

The organization that received the most shout-outs at our Member Meetup was Atlantic Street Center. Under Dr. Pela Terry’s leadership, Atlantic Street Center launched the Being an Anti Racist Organization (BARO) Group, which spearheads agency-wide anti-racist roundtables and educational opportunities. Sometimes it’s the very name of an organization that carries the weight of racism past and present. In that vein, we’re curious to hear what name Seattle Audubon will land on, as they search for a name aligned with their current organizational values. Neighborhood House, led by Janice Deguchi, is leading with equity in concrete ways. Most recently, they changed their employee holiday structure from one that was grounded in white, Christian-centric values and beliefs to a structure that supports and honors their staff of 350 people who are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, faith, language, and other aspects of diversity. 

Within programs, as well as organizations, what we spend money on is an indicator of just how committed we are to equity. Members were enthusiastic about programs that are offering stipends or hourly pay to youth in recognition of their time and expertise. Members we know of that build this element into their programs include FEEST, whose Student Organizers are paid for their leadership in community organizing and Teens in Public Service (TIPS), which offers paid teen internships in the non-profit sector. 

Finally, as an organization that fully embraced remote work by letting go of our office space in 2022, we’re struck by the important role space plays in building community and creating a sense of belonging and connection. And although we’ve found more ways to have fun in a virtual environment than we ever thought were possible, we were excited to see El Centro de la Raza purchase the Skate Rink in Federal Way to preserve this cultural resource. Stay tuned because we’re thinking of going skating there soon and hope you will join us!