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Minneapolis, MN – The YMCA, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, will celebrate the grand opening of a transformative new Equity Innovation Experience developed with the Science Museum of Minnesota and community partners from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 5.

The new Equity Innovation Experience, located in the YMCA Equity Innovation Center on 651 Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, is a catalyst to engage the mind on equity, diversity, inclusion and global realities. This interactive exhibit used in conjunction with the Center’s programs provides a unique opportunity to see life from another’s point of view and challenge a person’s mental models of the world. Through this immersive learning process participants gain a deeper understanding of the life paths and experiences present today so they can better serve their communities or reach their customers with greater relevance and comprehension of needs.

“In an increasingly connected world, organizations must adapt to better meet the needs of diverse teams and communities,” said Glen Gunderson, president and CEO for the Y. “The YMCA’s Equity Innovation Center provides unique opportunities for building transformational leaders and engaging diverse stakeholders from all sectors. By experiencing hands-on training designed to help foster innovative solutions to challenges regarding equity, diversity and inclusion, teams can create a safe environment for authentic conversation and build a lasting culture that values all perspectives.” 

Dr. Hedy Lemar Walls, chief social responsibility officer for the Y added, “Organizations are looking for experiences where diverse communities come together for participating in problem solving to shape their own future. The Y’s Equity Innovation Center offers a customized engagement process based on the outcomes the organization wants to achieve.” 

Recently 160 students and staff from North Central University participated in the Y’s Equity Innovation Experience as part of its student leadership development program. The goal of the training was to heighten student cultural awareness and leadership skills in the community.

“To my delight, the customized learning process provided current and historical lessons and information about personal and institutional behaviors, and systems of racial discrimination and injustice which challenge our ability to live, work and play in ‘Comm-Unity’,” said Bill E. Green, director of multicultural engagement and support at North Central University. “The outcomes of our experience have been greater conversations and discussions as well as more activities for personal and institutional opportunities to enhance cultural awareness, inclusion and equity.”

Open house attendees will have the opportunity to visit Y leaders and learn more about the YMCA Equity Innovation Center programs and services being offered for all in the community and tour the new Equity Innovation Experience that is used in conjunction with the Center’s customized programs.  They will see firsthand how the experiential learning experience includes hand-opportunities to explore cultural markers, wealth disparities, microagressions, implicit bias and the history of race in America.  As part of the reflective process and after going through the Equity Innovation Experience, participants debrief and connect with a small group about personal experiences and its impact and how to lead differently going forward.

During the open house there will be a special session What Do You See? with renowned photographer Wing Young Huie at 4:30-5 p.m. with questions and answers following. Huie will discuss his collection of photos featured in the Equity Innovation Center that challenge participants to learn the backstory that will complicate and challenge initial perceptions, opening up perspectives not considered. He will examine how when people look at photographs it shows them how they look at each other. 

WHO: 
YMCA Equity Innovation Experience Developed with Science Museum of Minnesota and Community Partners

WHAT:
YMCA Open House Celebration of the New Equity Innovation Experience 

WHERE:
YMCA Equity Innovation Center on Third Level of the Douglas Dayton YMCA at Gaviidae at 651 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

WHEN:
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
11 a.m.-7 p.m. – Open House
Special Session: What Do You See? featuring renowned photographer Wing Young Huie at 4:30-5 p.m. with questions and answers following.

For more information and to register for the YMCA Open House Celebration of the New Equity Innovation Experience, visit https://www.ymcamn.org/eicopenhouse. For more information on the programs and services offered at the YMCA Equity Center, visit https://www.ymcamn.org/EIC.

About the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities

The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities is a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  Established 162 years ago, the Ys provide life-strengthening services across the greater Twin Cities metro region, southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin communities.  The 29 Y locations and program sites, eight overnight camps, 10 day camps, and more than 90 child care sites engage more than 350,000 men, women and children of all ages, incomes and backgrounds.  To learn more about the Y’s mission and work, visit www.ymcamn.org.