The key mission of the YWCA McLean County is to eliminate racism, empower women, and stand up for social justice. As such, the organization is offering a variety of free racial justice resources, both in honor of Black History Month and beyond.
The largest new initiative recently launched is the YWCA’s inaugural Allyship Institute. It’s a three-week program running from February 1–21. This virtual, interactive learning experience invites individuals of all backgrounds, professions, and experiences to learn to be better allies to the Black community, now and in the future.
While the Allyship Institute is already underway, individuals are still welcome to join. Visit the YWCA McLean County website for more information on how to be involved.
“Allyship is a verb and both an internal, reflective process and the outward habits and behaviors we develop to stand in solidarity with Black communities,” said Hannah Mesouani, director of mission and equity consulting at the YWCA.
“In order to see just how pervasive racism is in every facet of American life, we have a lot of unlearning to do and it’s my hope that this program will give folks space to do work so that we can honor Black history and truly invest in a more equitable future,” she said.
The YWCA McLean County also offers free bi-weekly “Tuesday Training” sessions and “Think about It Thursday” videos on topics, such as targeted and advantaged identities, cross-cultural communication, and language access. Upcoming events include “Gendered Language: Decentering Masculinity” on March 8 and “Race and Beauty: A Brief History” on March 22. Both training sessions begin at noon and are available through the YWCA McLean County’s website.
Additional racial justice resources on the YWCA McLean County website include a Minority Business Directory, a Directory of Black Owned Businesses in McLean County, and LGBTQIA+ Resources. In-depth consulting, DEI strategies, and custom training for local businesses, schools, nonprofits, and other community organizations are also available upon request.
The YWCA McLean County is a long-time community partner of the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), and their resources are being promoted to Illinois State University’s campus community as part of that partnership.
“One of the goals for 2022 for the Civic Engagement Advisory Board is to embrace our #RedbirdImpact by enhancing collaboration with groups in our community focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion,” said Katy Strzepek, director of CCE.
“The YWCA is a wonderful community partner and offers many workshops focused on equity and anti-racism that fit well with our Center’s vision to create a more just and equitable world through meaningful civic engagement. Staff from community agencies such as the YWCA serve as co-educators in our efforts to build a more inclusive community,” she said.