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Diversity and Inlcusion within CTEP

July 16, 2019

By Anna Norcutt-Preuss, CTEP AmeriCorps Member at Project for Pride in Living

Our group project began last year, with a general idea from our cohort directors that diversity and inclusion efforts should be prioritized and moved to the forefront of CTEP’s actions. After much debate, research, and figuring out what this would actually look like, our group found a framework and a model of diversity and inclusion progress for a yearlong civic engagement project.

This year the project was heavily informed by two focus groups last year, made up of former CTEP members and supervisors, which highlighted CTEP’s strengths as well as areas to improve upon in the program’s diversity and inclusion work. 

Our work last year mainly focused on diversity and inclusion efforts within the cohort, but we wanted to expand these efforts so they were applicable to CTEP members at their service sites, since this is where members spend the bulk of their time. 

We began the program year with a supervisor focus group in the fall, wanting to have a better understanding of what diversity and inclusion work looked like at the CTEP’s 30 partner sites where AmeriCorps members do their service. This spring we asked CTEP members to discuss diversity and inclusion efforts with their supervisor using discussion prompts. We then discussed those conversations in a focus group as a cohort, and identified ways to improve inclusion at sites.

In tandem with these efforts we have been leveraging and promoting to CTEP members diversity and inclusion trainings throughout the  Twin Cities. Some of these have included lectures on race and socioeconomic status, as well as freedom of the press (Dr. Duchess Harris), and training on implicit bias (Minnesota Literacy Council). By participating in trainings outside of CTEP and AmeriCorps our goal has been to highlight the inherent biases and implications of being in National Service. 

While we shifted our group’s focus to site-specific diversity and inclusion efforts we still wanted to continue to build upon activities held within the cohort. This year that took shape in the form of monthly book clubs, where we read, “The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race,” by Jesmyn Ward, and “The Latehomecomer,” by Kao Kalia Yang. We used these readings as a chance for members to reflect on issues of diversity and inclusion independently and through group discussions. 

For diversity and inclusion efforts to be authentic and successful, they need to be ongoing. The one-year timeline of most CTEP members’ service makes a diversity and inclusion focused civic engagement group inherently challenging. In order to create continuity, we have created practices and guidelines for CTEP members moving forward. 

While we feel good about what has been accomplished in the past two years, we recognize that we have only begun to shift from the beginning stages of our multi-year diversity and inclusion framework, and hope that the project will evolve in the years to come.

CTEP Group Members: Emily Myanna, Anna Norcutt-Preuss, Kayla Syrocki

Each year our 35 CTEP AmeriCorps members choose community action projects that make a contribution to bridging the digital divide. The CTEP civic engagement projects are often cited by CTEP AmeriCorps members, staff, supervisors, and community supporters as one of the most unique and energizing parts of the program. This is one of the 2019 civic engagement projects.