BY NHIEN NGUYEN
Over 100 people representing nonprofits from the Puget Sound region gathered at the Fifth Annual Technical Assistance Resource Conference on Nov. 2 at the Tukwila Community Center to participate in workshops centered around the theme, “Building Capacity for Social Change.”
Speakers included leaders from local nonprofits, such as Npower, Northwest Federation of Community Organizations (NWFCO), Southwest Youth and Family Services, among others. Organizations from California included Applied Research Center (ARC) and the National Community Development Institute (NCDI).
The sponsor of the conference, the Nonprofit Assistance Center (NAC), chose this year’s theme because it reflected their mission to empower communities by building strong nonprofits and community leaders and to shape institutions and policies to achieve social justice and equity. Moreover, it “supports the work of many of the community–based organizations that we serve,” according to NAC’s welcome letter to conference participants.
This year’s conference approach was different than other years.
“In addition to sharing promising practices and collaborative relationships, this conference creates a forum for generating dialogue and action on issues such as race and public policy,” writes NAC board president and executive director.
Workshop topics discussed organizational capacity building through technology, inclusive decision making for shared priorities and strategies and multicultural leadership capacity building models.
Gary Delgado of ARC led a workshop with Leeann Hall of NWFCO on “Race and Public Policy.” Participants learned how to evaluate whether policies or practices were racially equitable. Workshop leaders presented examples of equitable polices and practices and a “race neutral” bill that had the unintended consequence of exacerbating racial inequity.
The participants in this workshop broke up into several small groups to analyze sample bills taken from federal and local initiatives. They used a “Racial Equity Impact Analysis” to measure the racial impacts of proposed policies. Some questions for the analysis included: Is racial justice reflected in the proposal? Are racially equitable outcomes a likely result of the implementation of this policy? Is there a realistic plan with adequate resources?
Frank Omowale Satterwhite, president of NCDI, led a workshop on “Capacity Building for Social Change.” In his workshop handout, he noted that NCDI understands that “individuals, organizations and communities experience the world through the lens of culture and that the cultural lens has multiple and diverse dimensions.” The institute developed guiding principles for providing culturally-based, capacity building services in communities of color. One of the guidelines was to “help communities think globally while acting locally.”
Participants of Satterwhite’s workshop gained a deeper understanding of the importance of culture in the capacity-building process.