The YMCA’s Equity Innovation Center intentionally engages individuals, organizations, and communities to become change agents.


Equity Innovation Center

The Equity Innovation Center is located on the third floor at the Dayton YMCA at Gaviidae in downtown Minneapolis. The Center brings together diverse stakeholders from all sectors to develop a common understanding of and design solutions to challenges related to equity, diversity and inclusion.

This space is the first of its kind within the YMCA national movement and provides an interactive simulator designed and built by the Science Museum of Minnesota. The social innovation experiential learning activities include a design thinking process for developing a deeper understanding of how social equity issues effect daily work, life and society.

The Simulator Room

As part of the Equity Innovation Center, the simulator provides an experiential hands-on learning space that includes state-of-the-art simulations on equity, diversity, inclusion, and global realities. The goals of the simulator experience are to:

  1. Create a safe space for everyone to be inspired to create innovative solutions toward greater equity, diversity and inclusion in their organizations, communities and networks
  2. Create life-transforming experiences that lead to deeper understanding of self and others
  3. Foster a paradigm shift in all sectors by unpacking race, gender, ethnic and other biases

Equity Innovation Lab

Equity Innovation Labs explore how organizations and communities can help to bring about social innovation, corporate responsibility and entrepreneurship. Each lab session begins with a complex problem from which a group can design solutions.

Participants can include:

  • Arts and culture organizations
  • Corporations
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Health organizations
  • Law enforcement
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Schools and universities
  • Social services

By participating in the Equity Innovation Labs,

Individuals and organizations can learn to:

  • Enhance their current approaches to these topics within their sphere of influence 
  • Create innovative solutions to increase opportunity and equity
  • Convene and host groups of all generations from non-profit, corporate, foundation, community, government sectors and others

A customized Lab experience may include:

  • Identity – Learning one’s own gifts, talents, and preferences to build on their strengths
  • Integration – Build stronger teams and community by understanding the strengths, inclinations and preferences of diverse stakeholders
  • Intrinsic Motivation – Establish effective forms of influence to lead in a diverse world
  • Broader Influence – Apply lessons learned and engage in local, national and global conversations to work on issues of social injustice, social responsibility, inequity, and poverty

The Equity Innovation Simulator

As a key component of the Equity Innovation Center space, the simulator will be an experiential learning program that reflects state of the art simulations related to equity, diversity, inclusion, and global realities. As part of the simulator experience, participants will:

  • Develop a common understanding of complex problems through a multicultural lens and a deeper understanding of “real life” from multiple perspectives 
  • Increase their understanding of diverse stakeholders through empathetic experiences that support the design of new and innovative services, programs and services, and solutions 
  • Learn new tools and strategies that are required to successfully address complex challenges in a rapidly changing world

Participants in the lab will benefit from current research that shows how transformational leadership relates to identity, integration, intrinsic motivation, and influence.  

The Y believes that if people gain a greater understanding of themselves and the motivations of the people around them, they will be more effective in all relationships and be inspired to meet human needs through social innovation, social justice and equity.

Social Responsibility Assessment

The Social Responsibility Assessment (SRA) is an online measurement tool that organizations can use to assess their current level of social responsibility. The tool helps highlight successes within an organization and outlines areas to focus future efforts towards greater social responsibility.

The SRA will strengthen organizations’ ability to:

  1. Define what it means to be socially responsible
  2. Identify systems or practices that can be transformed to be more socially responsible
  3. Gather insight and respond to the needs of an increasingly diverse consumer population

Equity Leader Certification

The Equity Leader Certification program was designed and implemented by the Y to provide leadership in advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion both internally and externally. By participating in the Equity Leader Certification, you will engage in best practices and develop the human-centered design skills to intentionally engage internal staff and external stakeholders and community through facilitative discussions and intercultural relationships.

Aspects of the certification include:

  • Global orientation and IDI Assessment
  • Dismantling Racism
  • Dimensions of Diversity and Cultural Lenses
  • Intrinsic and Extrinsic Biases
  • Elective classes relating to equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Customized curriculum to fit the needs of your organization

Those who become certified will:

  1. Foster intercultural competencies for colleagues related to age, gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation
  2. Help develop a positive work culture that supports equity and inclusion and drives positive behaviors among staff, customers and the community
  3. Develop effective communications for diverse populations internally and externally to help recruit and engage a diverse staff and to retain customers and attract new ones

Student Survey

The Student Survey, created in partnership with Search Institute, helps organizations determine how the youth programs you offer are impacting young people. The survey examines youth capabilities, youth characteristics and program capabilities, including:

  • Cultural competence
  • Demographics
  • Employability
  • Experiences of discrimination
  • Opportunities for skill building
  • Program quality
  • Youth development and leadership

With insights from the survey, your organization can improve and refine its youth-focused programs and services.
 
Conduct a Student Survey in your organization.