The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ network envisions a healthy and equitable society that is just, fair, and inclusive, enabling all people to participate and reach their full potential. Building on this vision, the Alliance is launching the Building Organizational Capacity for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) cohort to advance specific, significant change for emerging and leaders, organizations, and the human services sector.

Through an open application process, up to 15 organizations (with two leaders per organization participating for a total of 30 leaders) will be selected for the EDI cohort. The cohort will allow organizations to deepen capacity to attract, develop, and retain leadership talent and advance the knowledge base in the sector and beyond.

Apply online by Jan. 29 to participate.

Ultimately the cohort will offer the Alliance network and sector:

  • Organizational leaders, including emerging leaders of color, trained with a better understanding of themselves and the principles and practices of EDI
  • Organizations equipped with plans to strengthen their diversity, equity, and inclusion practices
  • The creation of replicable models demonstrating organizational excellence in creating environments and cultures that attract, develop, and retain racially diverse leaders, primarily those under 40, in human service organizations

Each organization will identify two of its leaders to participate in the 15-month cohort (Phase 1 will be three months; Phase 2 will be 12 months). Each organization will select an emerging leader of color (preferably under the age of 40) and a senior leader (not necessarily a person of color; can be anyone within the organization’s C-suite or a manager/director of a program).

With support from the American Express Foundation, the Alliance will begin the cohort in January 2018, including launching the cohort application process, selecting cohort members, engaging members in organizational assessment through the Commitments of High-Impact Organizations , and beginning leadership and equity training and education. Contingent support from the foundation will launch the full program in the second quarter of 2018.

Cohort Participation Commitments

Participating organizations will demonstrate improved organizational culture in EDI as they learn, assess, and engage in transformational planning for their respective organization. This will be accomplished through:

  • Cohort Assignments. This includes a comparative data walk for their organization versus best practices.
  • Participation in the Alliance’s Commitments of High-Impact Nonprofit Organizations Assessment Tool. The employment of the Alliance’s Commitments of High-Impact Nonprofit Organizations Assessment will provide a point-in-time assessment of the organization’s EDI commitment and help to set goals for improvement: 
    • Through the Commitments, organizations will consider how EDI affects each part of their organization and the organization as a whole. Organizations will be challenged to examine their entire cultural framework, assess their strengths in each area, and build an EDI plan that intersects with each Commitment, from governance and leadership to evaluation and investment, to partnerships and advancing equity as a principle of its own. 
    • All cohort organizations will complete a pre- and post-cohort Commitments Assessment that will measure organizational quality along the ten Commitments. Cohort members will receive analyses of their assessment results to help guide the development of organizational plans to address three to five Commitments areas that will improve their organizations’ EDI efforts and deepen organizational capacity to attract, develop, and retain leadership talent.
  • Organizational Plan. The development of an organizational plan to advance and measure progress toward transforming organizational cultures to support EDI internally and externally. In developing their plans, each organization will develop EDI benchmarks aligned within the Commitments and will engage in formative evaluation as they plan, test, and evaluate their progress. Cohort members will develop a dashboard of benchmarks and their progress toward them at regular intervals over the 15-month project period.

There will be two phases to the EDI cohort. Each organization must commit to the following with approximate dates:

Phase 1:

  • Applications due Jan. 29
  • Pre- and post-assessment of EDI organizational culture (due Feb. 5 and March 5)
  • Four-week leadership and equity e-course (Feb. 5-March 2)
  • Book review and teleconference (Feb. 14)
  • Initial Commitments Assessment Tool overview (Feb. 16)
  • Initial proposal for creating plan for EDI (due Feb. 28)

Phase 2 (Approximate Dates and Activities Are Contingent on Funding):

  • Pre- and post-assessment of organizational EDI
  • Full Commitments Assessment review
  • Completion of organizational EDI plan
  • Two four-week e-courses (May-September)
  • Annie E. Casey Race Equity and Inclusion Training (Summer TBD)
  • Three study tours of exemplary organizations (1.5 days with travel stipends and hotel expenses covered)
    • May 2018: Chicago
    • July 2018: Portland, Oregon
    • November 2018: Detroit
  • Alliance National Conference (Commitments TBD) (Oct. 15-17, 2018 in Denver)
  • Four 90-minute teleconferences (April, July, December and March 2019)
  • Present at 2019 Senior Leadership Conference Feb. 16-19, 2019 in Clearwater Beach, Florida
  • Assist in research and evaluation and dissemination of results (throughout 12-month cohort)

An ideal organization demonstrates continuous development consistent with change leadership, advancing equity, engaging all voices, and co-creating with community. Specifically, such organizations:

  • Increase their demonstration related to systems change for more equitable outcomes at the organizational and community levels
  • Have a desire to increase their leadership skills so that they have well-rounded leaders who are committed to and skilled in building strong organizations that advance EDI
  • Want to deepen their knowledge and practice in applying principles and practices of EDI
  • Foster emerging leaders and equip senior leaders/mentors to work effectively in multigenerational settings that support EDI
  • Are willing to share lessons learned through the cohort experience with other leaders in the Alliance network including the publication of case studies illustrating cohort successes, failures, challenges, and opportunities.

Application Process and Timeline

Organizations should complete the online application by Jan. 29, 2018. To be eligible, organizations must be members of the Alliance network in good standing and have a desire to build a supportive EDI culture. Each organization will be vetted by an internal leadership panel of Alliance and American Express staff.

A maximum of 15 organizations will be selected.

Application Questions

Limit responses to open-ended questions to no more than 250 words.

  • Organization information (name, city, state, website, names and titles of key senior leadership staff)
  • Primary contact information (name, title, phone, email)
  • Is the organization willing and able to participate in all activities related to the cohort as defined in phases 1 and 2? (yes or no)
  • What is the demographic makeup of your current leadership team and board of directors? (race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, differently-abled)
  • Describe any significant equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts your organization has employed related to building, retaining, and supporting talent within and outside the organization.
  • What is your current assessment of your organization related to building an equity, diversity, and inclusion culture around recruiting, supporting, and developing talent?
  • What would your organization consider to be important factors in developing an organizational plan to advance and measure progress toward transforming cultures to support equity, diversity, and inclusion internally and externally?
  • What has been your experience in using and understanding the Alliances’ Commitments of High-Impact Organizations?
  • Why should your organization be considered for inclusion in this cohort?

Direct questions to Undraye Howard, vice president of the Alliance Centeron Leadership.