ACT has partnered with Wayfinding Partners, a justice-driven consulting firm, to create a cohort program for organizations that want to continue their racial equity journey. This cohort program is designed for organizations interested in exploring their own behaviors, organizational culture, policies and practices to see how they may be perpetuating racism, bias and discrimination.
Applications were accepted for the program in March 2023 and the selected cohort participants include Carpenter’s Shelter, ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia, Northern Virginia Family Service, The Campagna Center, The Child & Family Network Centers, and The Spitfire Club. ACT is also participating alongside these organizations.
This 6-session cohort program will provide the opportunity to build community, accountability and learn together and from one another. Each organization will complete a racial equity assessment that will help them identify ways they can adopt, change, or strengthen practices and policies to better ensure racial equity. Based on the assessment, each organization will create a racial equity plan and take a deep dive to identify one challenge area of focus for their organization to advance racial equity. Organizations can also participate in 1:1 coaching for additional support in implementing action plans or to discuss other challenges that may arise along the way.
For more information about the program, please see the below FAQs.
Who can participate in this cohort program?
This cohort program is open to nonprofit organizations that serve Alexandrians. The cohort will include 6 organizations, plus ACT. Up to 4 members from each organization can participate in the cohort.
When does the cohort program take place?
The cohort program will run for 6 sessions beginning Wednesday, April 12:
April 12 – in-person, all-day session
May 9 – virtual, half day session
June 7 – virtual, half day session
September 14 – virtual, half day session
October 11 – virtual, half day session
November 8 – in-person, all-day session
The cohort will meet monthly April, May, June, September, October and November. The summer months (July and August) will be used for internal assessment, conversations data collection, and reflection. This will be a hybrid model with the first and last sessions in person and the others held virtually.
What can I expect during the monthly cohort sessions?
In the six together, we’ll invest our time building community and leaning into our growth mindset. You’ll be introduced to a strategic planning template and the tools that will be the basis of your journey. In each progressive session, you will gain more insight into how to progress your plan and focus in on one critical area, for which you will design and build your strategy. In addition, you will learn the foundation and importance of emergence in change and the importance of self-care in this powerful work of racial equity. Lastly, you will complete your strategic plan outline and present a summary of your plan to your cohort peers, preparing you to do the same with your organization’s leadership and/or Board. This cohort is intended to be a collaborative process where your active participation, self-challenge, ability to sit in discomfort as well as allowing open-endedness, in session and out, will foster not only your personal and organizational grown, but also that of your peers.
What can I expect in between sessions?
In between sessions, participants will be given assignments ranging from self-reflection, mindfulness practices and self-awareness building, and organization-related assignments related to data collection, alignment setting and defining actions within their organizations.
What can I expect from the 1:1 coaching opportunities?
There will also be the opportunity to meet with a coach 1:1 to help navigate some of the challenges and questions that may arise during the cohort program. As you review your organization’s issues and strategies and hone in one area of focus, there could be one or two points along the journey where coaching or guidance could help you gain additional perspective and clarity. You may opt for a session at a time when you need to dive deeper into the best focus area in your organization, or decide the best next step in building your strategy, or need to approach a delicate stakeholder conversation. The coaches are here to support you! (Note that a limited number of sessions are available throughout the cohort)
How should I think about the composition of the team participating from my organization?
This depends on your organization. You may want a cross-section of your organization with representation from each functional area, or you may select one department to take the lead, or you may be a small organization that only has a few employees. While there are up to 4 participants from each organization, the expectation is that they will be engaging other members of the organization throughout the process.
Are board members eligible to participate on behalf of the organization?
It is up to the organization to decide who will participate in the cohort program as part of their team. If an organization has a working board and/or members who are involved in program implementation and operations, it would be appropriate to include them.
What is the time commitment for participation?
The in-person sessions (April and November) will be full days – up to eight hours and the virtual sessions (May, June, September and October) will be half days – up to four hours.
For every week not in session, plan to allocate 1-3 hours per person/week for this program. This could be time to complete the organizational work, including leadership and employee interviews or conversations related to your strategy buy-in or development, or to meet as a group and make decisions on and progress towards building, completing or presenting your strategy; or personal work to expand your self-awareness or self-compassion while engaged in this work.
Who is Wayfinding Partners and who will be leading the cohort program?
Wayfinding Partners is a justice-driven consulting firm dedicated to individual, organizational, and community transformation. They partner with leaders who are entering or are in the midst of uncertainty. They approach all of their work with a racial justice lens. The firm is comprised of a multi-faceted, diverse team of passionate and driven professionals. Each member is essential to the success of their everyday engagements, as well as the long-term mission of achieving lasting and sustainable equity for their communities and the world around them.
Wayfinding Partners Team Members Include:
Dr. Stacy L. Scott
Dr. Scott is the Chief Strategist for Wayfinding Partners, President of the Center for Understanding Equity and Senior Lecturer at Boston University’s College of Education and Human Development. His expertise are in strategic planning; leadership development; executive coaching; educational consulting; workshop facilitation in equity, diversity, and inclusion. He consults in business, education and non-profit settings focused on strategic planning, capacity building, data-driven performance and leadership development. His book, Making Equity Work, is a guide for (educational) leaders to manage change, increase equity and improve performance. In his spare time you can find him walking, singing, dancing, traveling, working on one of his real estate projects or enjoying a really good game with friends and family.
Jasmine is an in-house consulting strategist and lead for community programs at Wayfinding Partners. In her almost-three decades of corporate and volunteer work, she built and honed her proficiency in strategic planning, change design, innovation and leadership, supporting and creating growth in five industries, including high-tech, manufacturing and finance, across North America and Europe. Jasmine also trained as an integrative health and transformational coach, a teacher and facilitator in yoga, dance, mindfulness and mindful meditation–expanding to hundreds the awareness and benefits of mainly-Eastern practices aimed at returning inner peace, presence and overall wellness. Blending this unique background, she now consults, coaches and facilitates organizational strategic planning and advancement as well as individual transformation and self-actualization across the equity and wellness arenas and their intersection. In her spare time, you can find her ballroom or salsa dancing, surfing, forest bathing, eating banana pancakes at her favorite beach cantina or meditating to begin and end her day.
A note from ACT for Alexandria
ACT is excited about participating in this program and learning from Wayfinding Partners and fellow cohort participants. We know we have a lot to learn and changes we need to make to our practices, operations, and policies to fully realize our commitment to racial equity. That is why we want to participate and learn alongside all of the participants. We recognize the power dynamic that can exist with ACT as a funder and participating nonprofits as current or future grantees. Participation will not influence future grant or other decision making. In all of our work, our desire is to be a partner with organizations, sharing and learning from one another. We’ve discussed this potential concern with Wayfinding Partners so they are mindful of this dynamic and can help us set a trust-based learning environment. As we go through the cohort process, we want to encourage organizations to share any concerns they may have with us (if they are comfortable) or with Wayfinding Partners. We want to create a space where we can all engage with honesty, humility, and candor.