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Pilot Project Prepares Latino Leaders To Serve On Nonprofits

Credit: Flickr Public Domain

Credit: Flickr Public Domain

The Cultural Inclusion Project in Lawrence, Massachusetts aims to train Latino professionals and pair them with nonprofits that are trying to build boards that better represent the community.
Associations have heard time and again about the importance of embracing diversity and inclusion, especially in their governing bodies. Yet, many continue to struggle to truly represent their communities.
A little help may be on the way from the Cultural Inclusion Project, a pilot program being tested by two nonprofits—Jericho Road Lawrence and the YWCA of Greater Lawrence—in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Nearly three-quarters of the population of Lawrence identifies as Hispanic or Latino, according to the most recent U.S. census data, but you wouldn’t know that if you looked at the boards of the city’s nonprofits.
“Boards are predominantly white, and many have members who are not even from Lawrence,” said Clare Gunther, director of development at the YWCA of Greater Lawrence. “Many of the Latinos in the community had some pretty unsettling stories to tell about how they had actually served on boards but felt tokenized, and they really weren’t clear on what their job was once they got there or what skills the board perceived that they brought to the table.”
The groups hope to change that. The Cultural Inclusion Project is in the second year of a two-year pilot phase. Through pro bono, nuts-and-bolts training delivered by local experts, Latino professionals are introduced to the basics of volunteer leadership—everything from nonprofit law to fundraising basics to corporate governance. Local nonprofits willing to make the commitment to D&I join the conversation as well, which helps to promote cultural competence and inclusivity, said Gunther.
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