How can we deepen our commitment to racial equity?
by Kristen Ruhl, Program Director
One of the things that makes me proud to be part of SecureFutures is our commitment to continuous improvement. We put focused effort into measuring the impact of our programs, gathering feedback, and making things better based on the specific needs of the teens we serve.
As we begin a new year, we’re continuing and deepening that commitment with an intentional focus on the values of racial equity, justice, and inclusion.
Racial equity requires work. This work is ongoing, and it is the responsibility of those in positions of power and privilege. It requires the humility to recognize how far we still have to go. As a leader within this organization, and as a white person with the inherent privilege that entails, I want to take responsibility for this work.
Across our organization’s 14 years of existence, we’ve taken steps to ensure that all of our students, from their many diverse backgrounds and experiences, have the greatest possible chance at a secure financial future. We’ve tried to become more aware of the individual and systemic barriers our students face, many of them the result of our country’s history of racial injustice.
The creation of Money Coach was the first of these steps, and was the result of a long process of listening. We recognized that there was a large group of students in central city Milwaukee schools who needed more than what our existing program was providing. Most of these students came from communities of color, low-income backgrounds, or both. Rather than gloss over the discrepancy we saw in program outcomes, we asked ourselves what we could do better, to make sure every teen had the same opportunity to achieve financial capability.
More recently, we’ve taken a close look at both our lesson content and our volunteer training through the lens of equity and inclusion. We’ve observed some ways our curriculum wasn’t fully accounting for the life experiences of our students from marginalized communities, and worked to improve it. We’ve also incorporated cultural competency and trauma-informed service into all of our volunteer training sessions and materials. Our goal is to challenge ourselves and our volunteers on our biases and assumptions, so we can create the educational environment of respect and empathy that our teens deserve.
We’re proud of these positive steps, but we also acknowledge that there is still plenty of work ahead of us. This year, we’re recommitting to that work. As an organization, we’re going to take some time to evaluate our programs, our volunteer recruitment and support, our storytelling, the environment we create at our events, and our organizational structure. We recently invited an outside consultant to lead our team in a formation session on cultural diversity, and have plans for further staff education and formation on this topic.
In the spirit of continuous improvement, we want to hear from YOU, the donors, volunteers, education partners, and supporters of the SecureFutures mission. How can we do better in meeting the needs of the diverse communities we serve? How can we more deeply incorporate the principles of racial equity, justice, and inclusion across our organization?