We believe that our social ills are caused by inequities in access to the basic resources and benefits of a democratic society. These inequities are based on discrimination against various groups by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other identities.
We also believe that a diverse and powerful social sector can address these inequities. As we state in our Theory of Change, we believe that a diverse and powerful social sector requires:
- Activated leaders who are thoughtful and effective changemakers that bring creativity and fresh perspectives to solving our communities’ most intractable social problems;
- People with an understanding of power dynamics and the systematic, historical and cultural context in which they are trying to make change;
- Networks that facilitate working across institutions and bring diverse groups of people together to achieve common goals;
- Research, writing, and speaking that challenges the systems that hold us back and consistent engagement with a variety of ideas and approaches.
Simply put, advancing true equity requires us to understand and effectively work across difference.
We have laid out several strategies to activate young nonprofit professionals around the important work of strengthening the nonprofit sector and achieving meaningful results in the areas of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). In the immediate term, YNPN is:
- Educating and training YNPN members and offering intentional spaces for discussion. We are developing curricula that will cover the basic concepts and tools of EDI including the history of difference and privilege, tools of inclusion in diverse environments, and skills training in facilitating critical conversations as well as conflict. We will also provide space for and encourage these discussions as a necessary practice consistent with YNPN’s values of collaboration, authentic inclusion, and continuous learning.
- Gathering data through members and chapters about the state of the sector and measuring our own progress on EDI. An understanding of the current state of the sector and meaningful measures of progress are critical to achieving and demonstrating results. We are developing both quantitative and qualitative metrics that will help us assess the health of our network in EDI as well as the health of the sector overall.
- Leveraging our communications platform to model the change we want to see in the sector. As a meta-network for the nonprofit sector with tens of thousands of members, YNPN is well-positioned to share information and best practices between communities. We also believe we have an important role to play in elevating the prominence of these issues and contributing information, resources, and diverse perspectives to the sector.
- Continuing to recruit diverse and inclusive leadership and membership in our network. We believe authentic inclusion of diverse voices is critical to providing emerging leaders with the context that is necessary to understand the power dynamics and the systematic, historical and cultural context in which they are trying to make change. We also know that diverse perspectives strengthen our network and bring creativity and a variety of ideas to make our work more effective.
These strategies are intentionally action-oriented. To paraphrase the words of Paul Schmitz, former CEO of Public Allies, we believe that equity, diversity, and inclusion are actions, not just ideals. It is something we act to bring about, and our results matter.
As the leading organization serving and gathering emerging leaders in the sector, YNPN is uniquely positioned to equip our current and next generation leaders with the context and skills they need to be truly effective in their changemaking work. Our vision of stronger communities supported by a diverse and powerful nonprofit sector can only be achieved by making our network and the sector as a whole more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.