Our Story

Dec 16, 2021 | Woke @ Work

Many EiC stakeholders don’t know the story of our founding and evolution into an independent 501c3, so gather for story time as we celebrate our first year as an independent non-profit organization, marked by growth and innovation, in the midst of a massive racial justice movement and a global pandemic. Enjoy our story…

The beginnings of what has become Equity in the Center emerged in 2015 from the inaugural Annie E. Casey Foundation Social Sector Talent Pipelines Strategy & Learning Lab cohort program. This program centered on improving diversity in leadership in the social sector. Leaders from ProInspire, Public Allies, and AmeriCcorps Alumni (now part of Service Year Alliance) collaboratively initiated planning for an effort to address racial inequities in non-profits and social sector organizations. Additional funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation supported strategic planning and vision development in 2016. The new, ambitious vision included addressing structural racism at every level in the social sector. With support from multiple stakeholders and oversight from ProInspire, Equity in the Center (EiC) launched publicly in 2017.

Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture was EiC’s first project and a catalyst for EiC’s growth and transformation. A full year of planning, literature reviews, primary interviews, and framework development (with the support and thought partnership of more than 120 EiC advisors from across the social sector) yielded a research-based, practical guide for organizational race equity transformation that was published in April 2018. From 2018 to 2020, we disseminated Awake to Woke to Work widely with presentations and through media. We developed and held working sessions for social sector organizations that wanted an introduction to the Race Equity Cycle framework, and needed help prioritizing action steps to build a Race Equity Culture. We also hosted convenings designed to provide opportunities for leaders and organizations to increase capacity to drive race equity internally and across the sector. In 2020, we expanded our capacity building portfolio to include monthly working sessions on the Awake to Woke to Work research and training opportunities with partners whose content significantly advances the capacity of leaders and organizations to build a Race Equity Culture. In addition, we partnered with colleagues across the social sector to initiate the Deep Equity Practitioners’ Network (DEPn), a community designed to support individual and collective capacity building for race equity practitioners.

Between spring and fall 2020, with the full support of our stakeholders and founders, EiC incorporated as an independent non-profit entity and received 501(c)(3) certification. We are governed by a Board of Directors, and our operational infrastructure is being actively scaled to intentionally center equity.

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Seana Kellman (she/her) is a child of immigrants, an avid researcher, and a crochet and knitting enthusiast currently residing on Wappinger, Schaghticoke, and Munsee Lenape lands. She has worked at EiC since October 2020 and has worked on social media and content development, training coordination, and most notably the development of the codebook and scoring for the Race Equity Cycle Pulse Check™.

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