Written by Stephen Ives, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Houston
The YMCA of Greater Houston’s commitment to strengthening communities prioritizes the safety and well-being of our staff and community. The YMCA of Greater Houston condemns the hateful and harmful discrimination and violence towards Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. For generations the Asian population has been a target of hate in the United States. Often the painful discrimination that our API community experiences is invisible and under-reported.
As a global community, we are stronger together and we stand against all forms of racism, discrimination and inequities. Many of these issues are multi-layered and complex and we are committed to educating our community and ourselves while we become the change we want to see. Here are some ways the YMCA of Greater Houston is addressing these inequities:
- We have formed an internal Equity Innovation Center Advisory Group “EAG” that includes executive leadership and various staff from different positions, gender, color and background. The group contracts and consults with experts in racial equality to process and address the YMCA of Greater Houston’s systemic racial inequities and provide trainings for all staff and board members to address bias, dimensions of diversity, cultural lenses and allyship.
- Since inception, 20% of the YMCA of Greater Houston full-time staff have been engaged in depth diversity, inclusion and equity learning in 2020. We have opportunities for full-time and part-time staff and have a long-term strategy to train all staff.
- We have piloted 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.
- The YMCA of Greater Houston Equity Innovation Center creates shared spaces for inclusive programs promoting humanity and inclusivity while advancing equity and undoing institutional racism. The Center has hosted virtual experiences and engagement within the community, which includes partnerships, and equity engagement listening sessions on how to dismantle systemic racism to how to talk about racism.
- We encourage staff and members to speak up when they see something unjust happening in their community knowing that staying silent could be a matter of life or death.
- We acknowledge the lack of representation of the API community in our teams and embrace the opportunity to diversify our staff, volunteers, and programs.
- We promise to be an anti-racist, welcoming, and inclusive organization to serve all without any preconceived notions or bias.
- We will continue to build not only safe spaces, but also brave spaces for our staff, volunteers, and members of the community to connect, learn, and act.
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.
We unite together. We rise together.
Take action and learn more from our Equity Innovation Network:
Stephen Ives, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Houston
Stephen Ives has more than 30 years of service in the YMCA movement and is recognized as a national leader in innovation, diversity and entrepreneurship as well as for the prevention of child sexual abuse. He also remains committed to the Y’s mission of strengthening the foundations of community to end isolation, fight inequality, inspire youth to thrive, remove limits and reimagine opportunities, and restore hope and well-being.