As a response to the myriad of issues regarding “otherness in America,” which seemed to culminate in last year’s incidents of social and civil unrest, Trinity Youth Services (TYS) formed a Diversity, Inclusion, Value and Equity (DIVE) team to provide a space where staff members could ensure their voice and choice were given consideration and weight in the decision-making of the agency. The team is composed of staff from each of Trinity’s locations and encompasses every level of service. TYS felt the same space should be created for the youth of the agency. With this in mind, TYS partnered with the SOURCE Nonprofit Consulting team from Claremont McKenna College (CMC). Their purpose is to celebrate and spark community collaboration on issues such as the arts, human services, and education. Together, a DIVES (Diversity, Inclusion, Values, Equity, and Social Justice) program was created. The aim of the program was to create an open and safe environment that allows youth opportunity to discuss their experiences and opinions regarding DIVES topics.
Four members of the TYS DIVE team worked closely with the CMC SOURCE task force, to expand the staff’s programming into a curriculum for our youth. The program is designed to span out into a 5-month program. The program features five units, which are referred to as episodes, and centered around one of the DIVES topics. Each episode consists of three class-sessions, one being the educational resources and discussion, the second being follow-up activities, and the final class-session revolving around a capstone project.
Diversity is the topic of episode one and focuses on explaining how embracing diversity is not a quick, easy fix. It is an issue that is systemic and requires proper education and understanding. Another key focus of this episode showcases the benefits of having a diverse population and why it is important.
Inclusion is the topic of episode two and focused on emphasizing why a sense of belonging and support should be created intentionally by groups, institutions, and society. Another focal point of this episode is eliminating implicit or explicit barriers when involving all groups of people.
Value is the topic of episode three and defined it as the beliefs that individuals have that guide the way they live, work, and interact with others. Values usually reflect one’s life experiences, family, culture, etc. and should help determine your priorities as well. The focus point of this episode was to have youth “trace” their values and see how they have changed over time and help them identify and learn to put into practice their own values in the context of the greater community.
Equity is the topic of episode four, which focuses on the fair treatment for all people in terms of one’s opportunities, advancement, and self-valuation. Additionally, equity includes actively working towards ensuring that all treatment is fair.
Social Justice is the topic for episode five, which imposes a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development. This episode is designed to discuss how initiatives and movements come from groups and communities, not just one person, allow for discussions on power, and ways to oppose injustice when it is at the hands of the powerful.
“Working with the CMC team to build this curriculum was such a great opportunity. These are important topics and I hope this program helps youth build confidence and form a comfortability around discussing these issues,” says DIVE member, Briana Calderon.
TYS’s mission is to help children and families create a better future and creating a space for youth to discuss DIVES topics, allows our youth the opportunity to let their voice be heard. When youth feel heard, they learn that their voice matters. To learn more about this program, contact (909) 426-0773 ext. 234 or email email@example.com.
Isabel Millward-Pena, Communications Specialist
Isabel contributes content for our social media, blog, newsletters and promotional materials. She recently earned a bachelor’s degree in English from California State University San Bernardino and is currently working on her master’s degree. Isabel began working at Trinity as an intern, was hired as clerical, and was then promoted to communications in our development department. Prior to her work at Trinity, she was a substitute instructional aid and a supervisor at Starbucks. She has also volunteered as an aid at local elementary schools and notably achieved “Partner of the Quarter” at Starbucks in 2017. Isabel is an active member of Trinity’s Diversity, Inclusion, Value and Equity (DIVE) team and volunteers her time at the Children’s Foundation of America.
Trinity Youth Services honors and acknowledges Juneteenth (June 19) as a significant day of importance for our nation, our staff, and the families and youth we serve. This week, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, a U.S. federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Since the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, following the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War in 1865, a lot of positive change has occurred for civil rights and equality. However, there is more work to be done. Systemic racism exists to this day, affecting children and families across the nation.
Children of color enter the foster care system at an alarmingly disproportionate rate than other children and are at significantly higher risk of systemic institutionalization and incarceration as adults. Black children face challenges and burdens other children do not. CEO, Cher Ofstedahl, stated, “The mission of Trinity Youth Services is, ‘Helping children and families create a better future.’ How can we possibly do that, without raising our voices and taking action? We have an obligation to do everything in our power to provide them with a pathway to the ‘better future’ our mission statement promises.”
Juneteenth serves as a reminder of how far we have to go.
“In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Over the past several decades, there has been a tremendous push toward inclusiveness and equality in the United States; in our schools, our workplaces, our places of worship and in our society, as a whole. In recent years, training in Cultural Competence and Implicit Bias have become requirements, as employers learn to accommodate the needs and belief systems of a workforce that is increasingly diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, gender ideation, sexual orientation and physical and mental capabilities. While great strides have been made to establish and enforce laws against discrimination and to require facilities to make physical changes which afford all employees equal access and opportunity, where we continue to fall short is in our inability to change the way people think and feel about each other.
Without digressing into a conversation of politics or religion, I believe it is important for us to have an honest conversation about why we, as a nation, continue to struggle with inclusiveness and equality, more than 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “Other America” speech at Stanford University.
In his 1967 speech, Dr. King expressed his support for non-violent tactics in the “struggle for freedom and justice,” condemning the rioting and looting that was taking place as “socially destructive” acts. However, he went on to argue that the inequitable economic and social conditions that Black Americans experience must be condemned as equally as the rioting. It is here that he invokes the line: “A riot is the language of the unheard.” The truth of that statement resonates as strongly today as it did more than five decades ago and applies to an innate human flaw: most people view differences as negatives. Until we can overcome this flaw, which is the real barrier to having real equality, we will never achieve Dr. King’s dream.
The difference between “compassion” and “empathy” is that compassion is an emotional response that stems from sympathy and a desire to help others, while empathy is rooted in awareness of others’ thoughts and feelings and an attempt to understand and share in those thoughts and feelings. One has compassion for others and has empathy with others. A compassionate person sees someone in a wheelchair struggling to open a door and rushes to open the door for them. An empathetic person feels hurt and outraged that someone in a wheelchair has to struggle to accomplish what another person does not. Empathy pushes us to see the world through another’s eyes and, hopefully, to take action.
Trinity Youth Services has formed a Diversity, Inclusion, Value and Equity (DIVE) Team made up of voluntary representation at all levels and locations of the organization. The team was formed to provide a platform where voice and choice matter. The team will help guide the agency’s journey to break down barriers to equal access to opportunity and, where historically unheard and/or unseen individuals and groups need additional assistance to achieve equality, the team will create strategies for advancement.
Chief Executive Officer