Issues of Race and Representation in Working with U.S. Minority Populations: An Examination of a National Youth-Serving Nonprofit
Issues of race often percolate below the surface of discussions on student outcomes, poverty, the economy, crime, the justice system, and the myriad of concerns affecting the missions of youth serving organizations. Communities In Schools, one of the ten largest such organizations in the U.S. serves primarily children and youth of color in its work to reduce dropouts. In the communities where this work is carried out, reflective of the nation at large, children of color experience the day-to-day realities of discrimination, lowered expectations and negative stereotypes that affect their ability to succeed in school and in life. This paper presents data gathered from the organization’s national network on the racial demographics of leadership and staff at the state, local and national levels, as well as information about the race-related issues faced by the organization at each of these levels. Understanding the network’s racial make up is fundamental for the organization to take measure of itself as a nonprofit seeking racially equitable solutions for its clients and racially diverse and culturally competent leadership and staff. The qualitative research used to uncover and explore existing issues and concerns about race gathers information from practitioners that can be analyzed and used to improve the work of drop out prevention and begins the sometimes difficult dialogue on race within the organization. This paper presents principal findings and recommendations for further action.
Keywords: Race, Representation, Youth, Diversity, Dropout Prevention
Robert H.B. Baldwin Fellow, Robert H.B. Baldwin Fellows Program, Communities In Schools