Service Year Alliance has made the conscious decision to address racial equity and we begin with our mission: making a year of paid, full-time service —a service year — a common expectation and opportunity for all young Americans. Service Year Alliance is focused on how to stay true to our mission of making national service an opportunity for all young Americans, no matter their background.
We believe it is critical to scale and expand service years with particular attention to diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) because national service should be an opportunity for all, and in order to scale national service, we need all Americans ready to serve. When using a DEI lens to examine our current and future work, we aim to ensure young Americans who participate in national service are part of a transformational experience that provides an opportunity to gain personal and professional skills. Service years have the potential to address root causes of inequity in programming, build bridges across societal divides, and connect young Americans to opportunities that will unlock their full potential not just as workers, but as active citizens and leaders.
To this end, we strive to:
(1) increase our understanding of who is serving, who is being served, and who is not represented in these answers;
(2) identify root causes that have prevented the full participation of diverse groups in service years; and
(3) implement DEI-focused practices and strategies to build a more equitable national service field and garner champions for service.
Developing a clear understanding of these key points will assist Service Year Alliance in developing evidence that will persuade champions and decision makers to unlock investments leading to increased opportunities for diverse populations in service years.
In Service Year Alliance’s commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, we have prioritized goals and action steps to begin this work for the remainder of 2020 through December 2021. The focus of DEI is a two-pronged approach with an internal paradigm to promote a culture of inclusivity and belonging in order for the organization to lead by example and an overlapping external paradigm to prepare and support our staff and board to drive diversity, equity, and inclusion across all bodies of work and engagement with external stakeholders and audiences.
For more information and for support in advancing your diversity, equity, and inclusion work at your organization, please contact: Monique Ellington, Director of Programs, Equity, and Inclusion at [email protected].