The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities works with schools, businesses, and communities to achieve success by addressing prejudices, in all forms, in order to improve academic achievement, increase workplace productivity, and enhance local trust. Through workshops, retreats, and customized programs that raise knowledge, motivation, and skills, VCIC develops leaders who work together to achieve success throughout the Commonwealth. Our organization traces its roots back to 1935 in Virginia. With a lengthy and rich history, we have been destined to change with the times, even as we work to change the times in which we live. Originally founded as the Virginia Region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities concluded our association with NCCJ in 2005 and joined with many of our fellow offices across the country to form the National Federation for Just Communities, a new movement fighting prejudice in all its forms.
Emerging Leaders Institute
Emerging Leaders Institute programs conducted by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities help middle school and high school students understand how stereotypes, bigotry, and prejudice can negatively affect their schools. These programs also provide participants with tools to develop their own student-led follow-up action plans. Programs can be designed to focus on a specific area of interest that a school wishes to address or can provide opportunities to broadly consider inclusion, prejudice, and leadership. In all cases, participants leave with enhanced skills in conflict resolution, coalition building, group facilitation, and diversity management. Students return to their schools with the ability to shape a community based on inclusion, respect, and understanding. http://inclusiveva.org/emergingleaders.php
Diversity in Higher Education Division
The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities works with colleges and universities across the Commonwealth through the Diversity in Higher Education Division. These programs give college students the opportunity to develop leadership techniques and dynamic strategies for their diverse campuses. Workshops, trainings, and retreats enhance the ability of Virginia?s college and university students to effectively navigate diversity through academics, athletics, Greek life, residence life and all other areas of campus life. The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities also works with administrators, faculty, and staff to enhance intergroup understanding at all levels of Virginia?s higher education institutions.
Inclusive Workplaces Initiative
The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities? Inclusive Workplaces Initiative provides educational programs, professional development, training, and consultation to enhance workplace cultures all across the Commonwealth. Programs are designed to maximize teamwork, productivity, employee retention, customer service, and service delivery. http://inclusiveva.org/inclusiveworkplaces.php Professional development sessions for elementary, middle, and secondary school educators help teachers to navigate diversity issues in the classroom, specifically looking at curriculum, discipline, and overall school policies and programs. Non-profit and business-focused programs provide executives and staff with opportunities to explore how they can help make Virginia?s workplace practices and cultures more respectful of differences.
Community Programs and Partnerships
The fight against prejudice is a cooperative process. Not only does the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities work with school systems, businesses, and law enforcement agencies, but we also work with like-minded organizations to maximize our efforts towards inclusion and respect. With chapters in Lynchburg, the Peninsula, Richmond, and the Tidewater/South Hampton Roads areas, our organization strives to meet the ever-changing needs of localities across the Commonwealth. http://inclusiveva.org/communityprograms.php
Educational Equity Initiative
The Educational Equity Initiative develops a critical mass of educational stakeholders who are passionate, committed, and prepared to lead efforts to eliminate disparities based on race in all areas of school life and academic achievement. These disparities include, but are not limited to: lower scores of Latino and African American students as compared to their white and Asian peers; their under-enrollment in honors and advanced placement courses; higher rates of suspension and enrollment in special-needs classes; and rates of high school graduation and college and university preparedness, acceptance, attendance, and completion.
The Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Connections Institute (formerly Metrotown) is the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ signature high school program. Serving students from across the commonwealth since 1993, Connections is an intensive 5-day, 4-night human relations experience that takes place each summer. Schools send teams of up to 5 students to participate in Connections, and those delegates explore prejudice, identity, and diversity in interactive workshops and small discussion groups with peers from throughout Virginia. They also build communication and conflict resolution skills and develop action plans to share the Connections message with their schools.
Since 2001, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities has held the Project Inclusion program (formerly Unitown) for high schools across the Commonwealth. Designed for students and educators from a single school or district, Project Inclusion brings together up to 60 students and 15 educators for an intensive four-day residential experience. While at Project Inclusion, participants explore issues of diversity and prejudice, gain insight into their own lives and values, and develop action plans to share their learning with their sending school(s). Administrators have credited Project Inclusion with improving school climates, reducing incidents of bullying and violence, and building stronger connections between students and educators.
The Allies Institute is the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ signature higher education program. An intensive four-day, three-night retreat for students and faculty/staff of a single college or university, the Allies Institute features interactive workshops, intense small group discussions, and experiential exercises designed to allow participants to think deeply about prejudice and discrimination. At the end of the program, they develop action plans to share their learning with their peers at the sponsoring institution. The Allies Institute has been credited with fostering campus climates of inclusion by serving as a catalyst for heightened awareness, dialogue, and human relations programming.
Prejudice Awareness Summit
The Prejudice Awareness Summit (PAS) is an intensive day-long workshop for middle school students that leads to a year of programming designed to increase awareness, knowledge, and acceptance of ethnic and cultural differences. Since its inception, the PAS has provided training to nearly 2,000 middle school students from the metropolitan Richmond area. On average, 28 schools participate in the program annually, each sending eight students and one or two adult sponsors, usually teachers, guidance counselors, or administrators. The PAS curriculum takes participants through a process of awareness to action. Students learn to recognize prejudice and intolerance, and to respect others. They work closely with their peers from a wide range of ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Trained adult and high school facilitator teams guide the students through small group learning activities that explore personal experiences with discrimination and develop conflict resolution skills. During the PAS, educators receive professional development training that compliments the student learning. Jointly, students and educators develop follow-up plans to take back to their schools to share the PAS message with the larger school community. Founded in 2001 by the local chapter of Jewish Women International, the PAS is today sponsored by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities with the support of a coalition of community organizations.