A Decade of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:
The Cultural Competency Collective of Greater Kansas City
Challenge, risk, discomfort and second chances – this is the culture required to do the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Cultural Competency Collective of Greater Kansas City (the Collective) is celebrating its 10-year anniversary of fostering this bold culture throughout the metro area with community-led learning communities and organizational trainings.
The Collective began its work with a focus on serving the health and human service sector, and continues to expand its network of influence to include higher education, public administration, and civic and community leaders. While its influence continues to expand, the purpose has remained unchanged. The Collective’s mission is to foster equity in services and inclusion through individual, organizational and systems development; and its vision is that everyone in the Kansas City region respects and values the importance of diversity and inclusion of all people. This powerful vision sustains the work of the Collective and motivates its community leaders into the next decade of progress in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“Doing this work is all about creating trust-building relationships,” said LaDonna McCullough, Director of Intercultural Engagement at MidAmerica Nazarene University. Ms. McCullough also serves on the Collective’s Planning Council and is the co-chair of the Technical Assistance Work Group. “The work of the Collective is important because it not only sets out to guide agencies toward organizational transformation, but it also provides ongoing support and resources that empower organizations and individuals.”
In 2008, the REACH Healthcare Foundation introduced a Cultural Competency Initiative with the aim of increasing understanding and practices of cultural competency in health and human services organizations, with a long-term goal of reducing barriers that contribute to health disparities. In 2010, the Health Forward Foundation joined the support of the initiative, expanding the number of agencies involved. Since then, the Jackson County Mental Health Fund and the Shumaker Family Foundation have also joined this funding effort to make this work possible.
Seeing a need for a more formal structure, in 2014, the funders invited Support KC to act as the backbone organization of the initiative, helping it transition it to a collective impact model of collaboration. The initiative was soon renamed the Cultural Competency Collective of Greater Kansas City to reflect the theory of collaboration that had been established. As the backbone organization, Support KC acts as the fiscal and legal sponsor of the Collective, and Support KC staff provide strategic and administrative support to the Collective’ volunteer leaders.
With a strong backbone in place, volunteer hours have been able to be leveraged as leadership over logistics. Nearly all of the 357 volunteer hours in 2017 were leveraged in a direct leadership capacity. Support KC has enthusiastically embraced this opportunity to support the Collective.
“Our team is recognized for our innovative approach to providing shared services to nonprofits in our community,” said Debra Box, President and CEO of Support KC. “Our staff and board felt we were ready to support a collective impact initiative as the backbone organization. Our values closely align with the Collective’s agenda.”
In 2018, representatives from 95 organizations received training through the Collective’s monthly Learning Community series, a free networking breakfast designed to help participants build knowledge on cultural competency issues. The Learning Community features presentations and simulations across social topics such as implicit bias, gender and racial equity, micro-aggressions, mental health and more. The Collective’s volunteer leaders select presenters, facilitate group discussion and have opportunities network. An independent evaluation found that 86% of Learning Community participants were able to strategize, explain, or talk about the session topic explored, and over 75% of Learning Community participants shared this information with colleagues.
The Collective also provides Technical Assistance, which is organizational training that addresses internal policies and practices that affect culturally competent provision of services and can ultimately influences health outcomes. In the past 10 years, the Collective has provided technical assistance to over 30 agencies in Greater Kansas City. A recent evaluation study found that 81% of Technical Assistance recipients now have active cultural competency committees and culturally competency plans that are regularly reviewed.
“I am continuously excited to see the development and growth of the Cultural Competency Collective,” said Carla Gibson, Senior Program Officer with REACH Healthcare Foundation and founding funder of the Collective. “Today, Kansas City’s nonprofits are more informed, culturally aware, and equipped to implement practices that support culturally competent service provision.”
As it celebrates 10 years, the Collective has planned its most ambitious year yet. A Technical Assistance consultant will assist in developing cultural competency and train-the-trainer curriculum, Learning Communities are experiencing record attendance, and plans are underway for a conference this fall. The Collective is also recruiting for is upcoming volunteer leadership terms, beginning June 2019. Positions will be available on the Collective’s Planning Council as well as the Learning Community, Technical Assistance, Communications, and Evaluation Work Groups.
The learning more about the Cultural Competency Collective, visit a Learning Community, or to get in the upcoming leadership term, visit CulturalCollectiveKC.org.