The Baltimore Children and Youth Fund’s (BCYF) mission to improve the lives of Baltimore’s youth could not be achieved without an intentional and comprehensive approach to equity and inclusion. That’s why it is essential for us to have an REI (Race, Equity, and Inclusion) framework to guide our work. The REI framework that we utilize is based on the values of racial equity, intergenerational leadership, community ownership, and collective decision-making. By adhering to these values, we ensure that all of our work is done in a way that is fair and takes into account the needs of all members of the community, especially Black and Brown people. In addition, by prioritizing equity and inclusion, BCYF can ensure its programs and services are accessible and relevant to organizations in Baltimore that are historically and currently under-resourced.
The core principles of our REI framework include specific goals and strategies for promoting racial equity and inclusion, such as:
- Race-informed/explicit policy: We prioritize decision-making that explicitly addresses systemic issues, such as discrimination, racism, implicit bias, and other inequities disproportionately impacting communities of color. This ensures that the organization actively works to identify and remain informed about these challenges to make impactful decisions.
- Accountability Mechanisms: We aim for comprehensive decision-making models clearly outlining responsibilities and goals, ensuring that the organization follows through on its commitments to REI. Accountability mechanisms can take various forms, such as setting clear targets for reducing disparities, regularly measuring and reporting progress, and holding leaders and staff accountable for meeting these goals. In addition, it’s essential to provide transparency to stakeholders, such as funders, community members, and staff, who may want to see evidence of the organization’s impact on promoting racial equity.
- Outcomes-oriented approach: We aim to approach REI by achieving measurable and meaningful change, using data and evidence to demonstrate progress and effectiveness over time, rather than just checking off boxes or meeting quotas. This approach helps showcase concrete outcomes and demonstrates the impact of its REI efforts, building trust and credibility.
- Culture of Practice: We encourage a culture of sustained commitment to equity and inclusion involving embedding REI principles into the everyday practices and processes of the organization rather than treating it as a separate initiative. This helps to foster innovation and encourages staff to experiment with new approaches and ideas, developing practical solutions to the complex problem of racial inequity.
Our REI framework is critical for our organization because it helps promote impartiality, respect, and equal opportunities for all participants, particularly in communities that have faced historical challenges of systemic barriers and inequities, including poverty, racism, and unequal access to resources and opportunities. By acknowledging and addressing these systemic issues, creating a safe and welcoming space, promoting equity in access to resources, empowering leadership, and providing opportunities for cross-cultural learning, our REI framework helps organizations in Baltimore provide meaningful support to its marginalized populations.