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.

Greenwich Student Identity: A Community Conversation on Diversity at Greenwich High School

This community dialogue was a platform for students at GHS to discuss how the concepts of diversity and inclusion tie into their understanding and creation of a Greenwich student identity, while also establishing a list of action steps all Greenwich students can partake in to continue the conversation and lead to concrete progress in our town.

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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 and more than 30 community partners celebrated the life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by hosting an outstanding panel of experts for a discussion titled, “Overcoming Racial Health Disparities: During and Beyond COVID-19.” The discussion was moderated by Tiffany Donelson, President and CEO of Connecticut Health Foundation and the panelists include Dr. Irene Blanco, Associate Dean, Office of Diversity Enhancement at Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Dr. Juliet Mushi, OBGYN and expert in maternal/fetal health at Yale School of Medicine; and Dr. Sten Vermund, Dean and Professor of Public Heath, Professor of Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine.

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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.

DIVE Project

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