YWCA Greater Cleveland Wins YWCA USA Excellence Award for Racial Justice

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YWCA Greater Cleveland Wins YWCA USA Excellence Award for Racial Justice

Categories: News

On Thursday, June 24, 2021, YWCA Greater Cleveland was selected by CEOs and Executive Directors across the YWCA network to receive the YWCA USA Excellence Award for Racial Justice in recognition of their exemplary and innovative programming and advocacy. The award honors local associations championing YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism within their communities while centering women, girls, and nonbinary people of color in that work. 

 “I just want to say to YWCA USA, I’m so grateful,” said YWCA Greater Cleveland’s President & CEO Margaret Mitchell. “It’s so amazing to see the sleeping giantess awake and take her rightful position as a mighty civil rights organization at the intersection of gender and race. There’s so much to do.”  

Margaret Mitchell thanks YWCA Greater Cleveland’s Board, Staff, and the community for supporting the organization’s journey of achieving true racial justice and gender equity. Thank you!


The YWCA Greater Cleveland team is being honored for their accomplishments in these areas: 

 STRUCTURAL CHANGE IN THE WORKPLACE 

YWCA Greater Cleveland began this journey in 2014 after the murder of Tamir Rice, an unarmed 12-year-old Black boy, at the hands of police. The leadership team resolved to advance racial equity within YWCA Greater Cleveland by operationalizing equity in every aspect of their organization. This includes written equity plans, raising the staff’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, expanded PTO, and a Pathways to Promotion Program that has increased the promotion rate of BIPOC women by 60%. Over the past 10 years, YWCA Greater Cleveland’s annual staff turnover rate averaged 29%, in 2020 it was 9%. 

 A STRATEGIC PLAN TO MEET THE MOMENT 

YWCA Greater Cleveland’s commitment to racial equity is also reflected in their five-year strategic plan, adopted in October of 2019. This new plan focuses on women and girls of color—not as the only community YWCA serves, but as the community whose liberation most ties YWCA’s past to its future and will catalyze other realizations of peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. 

 DECLARING RACISM A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS 

In November of 2019, YWCA Greater Cleveland partnered with First Year Cleveland to host “400 Years of Inequity: A Call to Action” a national summit commemorating the start of chattel slavery in 1619 and its enduring impact on health, economic and educational inequities in America. The summit closed with a call to action – declare racism a public health crisis. With the support of YWCA and other community organizations, in summer 2020, the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County officials declared racism a public health crisis and committed to making real systemic change. These declarations represent an important governmental acknowledgement of racism and its continued impact. 

21-DAY RACIAL EQUITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE CHALLENGE  

Inspired by the work of Dr. Eddie Moore Jr., Debby Irving, and Dr. Marguerite Penick, in 2019 YWCA Greater Cleveland curated an independent and unique challenge as an internal training tool for staff. The team then made the decision to open the challenge to the community and 2,500 individuals took the 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge that first year. The Challenge has grown into a national movement engaging over 30,000 people from 2,600 ZIP codes and 48 states in racial equity work in just 3 years. In partnership with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, YWCA also created 2 mini-challenges around sports, race, and entertainment for the NFL Draft which took place in Cleveland in April 2021. 


Unfortunately, racial equity work remains an extremely underfunded area. Consider making a gift and supporting us, as we continue to serve as a leader in this space both locally and nationally. We’re still on a mission – join us!