Embracing Diversity

Bring in the experts

Due the sensitivity of diversity training, many programs leave this important topic to the experts. It is too easy for things to "go south" in a hurry.

For most of the topics in member training, we encourage staff supervisors to jump in and follow the advice given here and elsewhere. However, when it comes to diversity training, unless it is a specialty of program staff, we advise relying on trained consultants.

Diversity training is a fundamental part of any AmeriCorps or VISTA development program. As many organizations recruit volunteers from throughout the country, the mix of volunteers and service recipients is often quite diverse. By providing diversity training, programs can help minimize misunderstandings and promote collaboration.

Numerous diversity trainers and programs exist. Here's a list of resources and tips to help you find the one that's right for you:

  • Look at a number of diversity websites to get an idea of available services. Some places to start are the Center for Diversity EducationDiversity Training University International, and the National Coalition Building Institute.
  • Contact local universities and colleges: Many offer services around diversity education and are a source of potential trainers and resources. Some examples are the University of Oregon and the University of Minnesota's Center for Teaching & Learning Services.
  • Turn to state governments: Many have human resources departments that offer diversity resources.
  • Ask for discounts: While many trainers market their services to the for-profit sector and are expensive, they may provide reduced fees or pro bono training for nonprofits.
  • Identify needed diversity trainings before you engage a diversity trainer to ensure that the program you choose meets the needs of your members. Examining Stereotyping in the Classroom (DOC) (PDF) is a workshop that allows members to examine stereotypes and issues of prejudice and determine what additional diversity training they need. 

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