Racial Justice Initiatives
Eliminating racism is a core element of YWCA’s mission. To help realize this part of our mission, YWCA Greenwich promotes dignity and inclusion; raises awareness about the negative impacts of all forms of racism, bigotry, and hate; engages with governmental and community organizations to make positive change; and offers and participates in mission-focused programs that strengthen our community.
By engaging with governmental and community organizations and participating in mission-focused programs, the YWCA plays an active role in strengthening our community. In addition, each January, we hold an event on a current racial justice challenge to honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and each April, we participate in the signature campaign of YWCA USA, Stand Against Racism, to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities.
Emanuel: Atrocity, Forgiveness and Action
This is part of our Towards Equity: A Series Examining Systematic Racism. An important Zoom discussion with Reverend Ted Pardoe, St. Barnabas Church, Greenwich; Erin O. Crosby, Director of Women’s Empowerment & Racial Justice, YWCA Greenwich; Dorothy Nins, Social and Restorative Justice Practitioner and Activist; Adrienne Reedy, Founder of Racism to Gracism, and Polly Sheppard, Survivor of Emanuel AME Church Shooting.
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Black@: A Conversation About Race, Culture and Curriculum in Our Schools
This is part of our Towards Equity: A Series Examining Systematic Racism. An important Zoom conversation with Antonia Thompson, Stamford Mayor's Youth Services Bureau; Shanelle Henry, Director of Equity and Inclusion at Greens Farms Academy; Toni Jones, Greenwich Public Schools Superintendent; and Ann Neary, National Board Certified Teacher, exploring the current Black@ discussions at schools everywhere.
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Beyond Petitions and Protests: The Art of Being an Authentic Ally
This important conversation included Jenna Arnold, author of Raising Our Hands: How White Women Can Stop Avoiding Hard Conversations, Start Accepting Responsibility, and Find Our Place On the New Frontlines, and Denise Hamilton, CEO of WatchHerWork. They discussed how individuals can contribute and make an authentic impact on systematic racism.
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Honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
YWCA Greenwich, in partnership with the Town of Greenwich and community leaders, honors the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by exploring topics we believe Dr. King would have cared deeply about. On January 16, 2019, YWCA Greenwich hosted an important panel discussion on the issue of labor trafficking. We will continue to be a vocal advocate for anti-trafficking legislation at the state and federal levels. On January 23, 2020, we explored "Women's Suffrage and Power at 100".
2020 event to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Women's Power and Vote at 100 . . . a conversation about empowering women
- Mary Lee Kiernan, President and CEO, YWCA Greenwich
- Sheryl Battles, Vice President, Global Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement, Pitney Bowes
- Denise W. Merrill, Connecticut Secretary of the State
- Patti Russo, Executive Director, The Campaign School at Yale University
- Gretchen Carlson, American Television Commentator, Journalist, and Author
Stand Against Racism
Stand Against Racism is a signature event of YWCA USA to raise awareness about the negative impact of all forms of racism in our community. At this event, beginning April 24, 2020, YWCA Greenwich President and CEO, Mary Lee Kiernan and Professor Gautam Mukunda discussed the importance of civic engagement in today’s environment. This event is posted on our Stand Against Racism page and social media platforms.
YWCA Greenwich Racial Justice Scholarship Awards
Each year, YWCA Greenwich awards two scholarships to high school seniors who live or attend school in Greenwich. The scholarship rewards outstanding contributors to racial and social justice in our community. Recipients are recognized for their special efforts to encourage people to respect differences, promote equality, and eliminate all forms of bigotry, bias and racism in their school or our community. The awards were presented to Yolanda Lewis and Dante White.
Included in YWCA Greenwich’s 2018 – 2021 Strategic Plan was a focus on aligning our mission with all the programs that we offer including Childhood Education, Youth Health and Fitness, Aquatics and Adult Programs. To that end, in 2019, YWCA Greenwich initiated the DIVE (Diversity, Inclusion, Values and Equity) Project. Working with a consultant, curricula were developed to implement age appropriate instruction in diversity, equity and inclusion concepts. YWCA Greenwich staff and Board received the training first and some staff received additional training in the facilitation of the curricula. Phase 1 training has begun in the Childhood Education programs with plans to expand the trainings to other programs in phases 2 and 3.
Welcoming New Arrivals
YWCA Greenwich is a member of the First Selectman's Diversity Advisory Committee. In 2017, the First Selectman’s Diversity Advisory Committee hosted a special meeting at YWCA Greenwich for residents of Greenwich and the surrounding areas to discuss immigration. The purpose was to help residents and new immigrants understand fact vs. fiction as it relates to local policies, how the laws are implemented and where people can go to learn more and find access to services.
Following the event, YWCA Greenwich led an effort to create the first ever resource guide for immigrants. The purpose of this guide is to provide new members of our community and our country with help in navigating their new surroundings and in finding services, such as childcare, healthcare, employment, housing and legal services. These services will enable immigrants to lead healthy, safe, and productive lives in Connecticut or surrounding states. The guide can be found here on the Greenwich Department of Human Services Website in English and Spanish.
Diversity Book Club
The YWCA Diversity Book Club meets on the last Tuesday of the month from noon - 2:00 pm in the Gertrude White Gallery. The club seeks members of all ages, ethnicities, religious affiliations and economic status to engage in spirited discussion. Participants meet for lively conversations about reading material chosen by the group. For more information, call Mamie Lee at 203-552-0807 or email email@example.com.