At the YMCA, we have committed ourselves to combatting injustice and owning our social responsibility toward a more equitable community. In so doing we expect that we will help create a community, nation and world that will benefit everyone.
The way in which we all witnessed George Floyd’s death and the arguments put forth in Derek Chauvin’s trial have tested my patience as well as my faith. I am grateful for the trial’s conclusion and hopeful that the verdict will bring peace to the family of George Floyd. May this verdict continue the momentum in the efforts to create a safer and more just society in which people of color can live and thrive.
We live in a country where rule of law is a sacred promise, yet at times, our system does not apply justice in an equitable manner. We still have much work to do and are determined to continue our efforts on behalf of all citizens in the Greater Houston region. While we mourn the tragic death of George Floyd and so many others, we also find space for compassion for all of the families and individuals whose lives have been impacted.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of George Floyd. We are grateful for the courageous actions of bystanders who became upstanders, witnesses that testified, and police officers who told the truth about what they saw.
Our work does not end with this trial. It is only beginning. Accountability is not achieved during one moment in time, as the work of community strengthening is a life-long commitment. We must not become complacent. The YMCA of Greater Houston will continue to work with our partners to advance equity and own our social responsibility in doing better, together. We will continue to strengthen our communities through education by engaging in brave conversations while advocating for those who still do not feel safe.
Here are some ways the YMCA of Greater Houston has begun to address racism and will continue to work toward fulfilling our commitment to equity and inclusion in Houston:
The YMCA of Greater Houston Equity Innovation Center creates shared spaces for inclusive programs promoting humanity and inclusivity while advancing equity and working toward undoing institutional racism. The Center has hosted virtual experiences and engagement opportunities available to the community.
We have formed an internal Social Equity Advisory Team that includes executive leadership and a diverse representation of our staff team. The group contracts and consults with experts in racial equity to process and address the YMCA of Greater Houston’s systemic racial inequities and provide trainings for all staff and board members. Trainings include implicit bias, dimensions of diversity, cultural lenses, courageous conversations and allyship.
Since July 2020, 20% of the YMCA of Greater Houston full-time staff have engaged in a racial equity institute. We have opportunities for full and part-time staff and have a long-term strategy to train all staff.
We have launched a Youth Changemakers cohort for young people who are ready to be on the frontlines of meaningful, inclusive and lasting change in their local community.
We encourage staff and members of the community to speak up when they see something unjust happening in their community knowing that staying silent could be a matter of life or death and have provided training to our staff members on how to effectively do so.
We are committed to being an anti-racist, welcoming, and inclusive organization to serve all.
The responsibility to advocate for humanity belongs to all of us. We must recognize our own biases and judgements and work towards ensuring inclusivity and liberation for all people.
The YMCA of Greater Houston’s Equity Innovation Center is a space for members of the community to learn, lead, organize, advocate and connect with intention and a shared focus on advancing equity and undoing institutional racism.
Change Starts With Education
We all hear words like systemic racism and equity, but do you really know what they mean? Understanding each other’s language is the first step to understanding different perspectives.
The process in which individuals are blocked from (or denied full access to) various rights, opportunities and resources that are normally available to members of a different group, and which are fundamental to social integration and observance of human rights within that particular group.
“This experience boosted my courage to be able to act or confront racism in my personal life.”
“The past year has felt so isolating and has, in some ways, forced us to stay in our bubbles and grow in apathy, anger, depression, etc. – but the EIC allows us to come together, communicate, and learn so that we can once again be filled with hope, recognize the humanity of each person, shed those negative emotions, and leave empowered to continue to fight the good fight for all of us.”
“The EIC provides a space to challenge ourselves and each other to learn about the intricate nuances of our identities and life experiences.”
“This was my first experience with the EIC and I was impressed. The diverse viewpoints, energy and passion was exciting to hear within a safe space where all ideas and thoughts are welcome. Thank you so much for this!”
“The content was true, powerful and educative. And demonstrates the YMCA is an organization that is actively against racism and discrimination.”
Read, review, blog or listen to a podcast. Learn new perspectives that may be positively life altering.
HAVE AN HONEST DISCUSSION
We encourage all people to examine how society treats people of color and start those mindful yet challenging conversations with each other. It may be uncomfortable, but change never is comfortable.
SHARE YOUR STORIES
If you are a person of color, share the story of your lived experiences. Start by creating and cultivating those safe and brave spaces to share with each other and begin to have those crucial conversations in the workplace.
SPEAK UP & OUT
Speak up and out about an injustice or uncomfortable situation as it happens. Allies and advocates need to support others so they will know they are not alone.
CONNECT WITH AN ERG
YMCA of Greater Houston ERG’s are committed to creating safe and brave spaces for employees and volunteers to feel known, seen, and heard while empowering themselves and each other.
YMCA of Greater Houston President & CEO Stephen Ives Appointed Chair of the Newly-Reformed Independent Police Oversight Board (IPOB) by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
Mayor Turner announced selection during April 29 press conference about the City of Houston’s policing reform investments and organizational improvements
HOUSTON (April 29, 2021) – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced today during a press conference the appointment of YMCA of Greater Houston President and CEO, Stephen Ives, as Chair of the newly-reformed Independent Police Oversight Board (IPOB). The designation was amongst several recommendations from the Mayor’s “Task Force on Policing Reform” report, published September 2020.
“I am honored to lead such an essential endeavor – not only for our city, but for our nation. This appointment mirrors the YMCA’s proud commitment to advancing equity as well as our historical practice of engaging with efforts that strengthen the foundations of community,” said Stephen Ives, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Houston. “I made the decision many years ago to dedicate my career and personal life to serving communities, and I look forward to continuing to bring people together to hold brave conversations and will work to foster the creation of a safer, transparent and more just society in which citizens can live and thrive.”
The IPOB will feature a diverse group of civilian leaders who will actively engage in police accountability and hold all to a higher standard. Stephen Ives will oversee and lead the board who will work with paid, full-time professionals to review existing and proposed Houston Police Department (HPD) policies, investigate misconduct, and recommend reforms across the agency. Due to urgency of these critical issues, Ives will spend the next 30-days conducting a comprehensive listening tour to gain insight and perspective of the community that will help inform next steps.
“As Stephen Ives mentioned in our discussions, ‘This is a defining moment for our city, and I am ready to serve,’” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “I am confident that Stephen can lead this board and tackle the systemic issues we see in so many police departments around the country.”
Since the 1970’s, the YMCA of Greater Houston has assisted with refugee resettlement in the United States by helping newcomers restore hope, build stability, create opportunity and change futures. During the pandemic, YMCA staff and volunteers stepped in and distributed food to families and seniors who did not have access to food. The YMCA also launched the city’s first YMCA Equity Innovation Center advancing equity and working toward undoing institutional racism. The Center has hosted virtual experiences and engagement opportunities available to the community. These community-centric efforts generated acknowledgment from MacKenzie Scott, philanthropist and author, who donated $18 million for its efforts.
The YMCA of Greater Houston is not a place, it is a purpose; and will continue to work with partners to advance equity and own our social responsibility in doing better, together. Over the last 135 years, The YMCA of Greater Houston continuously evolves in efforts to purposefully transform for Houstonians by becoming a more inclusive, purpose-driven entity built to ensure everyone in every community has equal opportunity. Now, the Y has an expanded opportunity to lead these initiatives for the nation.
Founded in 1886, today the Y remains committed to the health of more than half a million people in Greater Houston who learn, grow and thrive through programs and services at centers across the Houston area. Strengthening community is our cause. Together, we connect active, engaged Greater Houston Area residents to build a better us.
HOLIDAY HOURS: All YMCA of Greater Houston locations will follow adjusted schedules on Monday, May 31 in observance of Memorial Day. Locations will open at their regularly scheduled time and close at 6 pm (exceptions: Alief, Houston Texans and M.D. Anderson YMCA's will be open 8 am - 2 pm).